The Board of Trustees of the Teaneck Public Library hosted a community conversation on Sunday, October 21, where I was introduced as the new Library Director, and the public was invited to share feedback to help shape the future of the Library. After an introduction from Board President Joy Charles, I briefly described my vision for public library services, which included a focus on:
- Developing rich, diverse, and stimulating print books collections for people of all ages, and supplementing this strong foundation with digital content – especially eBooks and eAudiobooks, and streaming audio and video;
- Continuing to offer exceptional programs for children, teens, families, and adults of all ages, but doing more to create unique hands-on learning experiences, including everything from STEM, entrepreneurial, and coding workshops for children and teens, to networking, job training, and career development for adults, and new opportunities for civic engagement and creative problems solving that strengthen the fabric of the Teaneck community and create lasting change;
- Making improvements to Library facilities to create comfortable and safe spaces where the community can learn and connect in ways that are relevant and meaningful to their lives in the 21st century; and
- Taking the library outside of the physical building to engage and provide services to people in the community where they live, work, and play.
Following these opening remarks, the event transitioned to a Community Conversation, where I invited feedback from residents to help shape the future of Teaneck’s crowned jewel public library. Attendees were asked about their aspirations for Teaneck Public Library, and some of their responses included:
- safe and convenient parking
- participatory programs for older adults
- welcoming, child-friendly environment
- all youth materials in one area
- new presenters for youth programs
- drop-in programs
- events that allow residents to teach other new skills
- pairing programs for young children with programs for adults
- computers in the youth services department
- outreach and event information to local churches, mosques, and synagogues
- new public restrooms
- STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) makerspace
- inter-generational events
- simplified library card registration
- better signage
- digital library cards
- more advanced event announcements on social media
- resources for people of all abilities
- more public computers
- dedicated space for teens
- volunteer and community-service opportunities
There were some repeat and related comments that we bundled together, and some feedback that simply couldn’t be included here in the interest of space. But I wanted to share as much as possible with everyone in the Teaneck community.
I want to sincerely thank everyone who participated in this event with their presence, attention, and conversation. This was not a one-time event. I view this event as a starting place, and a reorientation of the Library towards the community. I expect this to be the first of many conversations, and similar community engagement events to come.
Thank you! The Teaneck Public Library is here for you. And we’re listening.