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CGR Study on Rochester Branch Libraries

CGR Study on Rochester Branch Libraries

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Published by rachbarnhart
CGR Study on Rochester Branch Libraries
CGR Study on Rochester Branch Libraries

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Published by: rachbarnhart on May 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Rochester'sCommunities andtheir PublicLibraries
2012 and Beyond
 April, 2013
Prepared for:
City of Rocheste
Prepared By:Kirstin Pryor, M.S.Project Director
1 South Washington StreetSuite 400Rochester, NY 14614585.325.6360www.cgr.org©Copyright CGR Inc. 2013 – All Rights Reserved
Rochester's Communities andtheir Libraries
2012 and Beyond
 April, 2013
Rochester Public Library (RPL) is embarking on a planning process for the 10 community branch libraries. To do this strategically, the Board of Trustees must have an up-to-date understanding of the communities and  patrons served; the current usage and reputation of the libraries; whatstakeholders anticipate and desire in the future; opportunities to partner and improve; and the changing context facing library systems in general.This report builds a shared foundation from which the Board of Trusteesand RPL leadership can launch a more informed planning process. It provides the broad and external picture, and should guide the next stage of internally focused analysis and planning.
Key Findings
As a system, the libraries seem to be serving this communitywell.
Measures of utilization are all trending up, and comparefavorably to peer systems. The one area where RPL is not as strongis in hours of service, which places its relatively high circulationand door count in an especially positive light.2.
Circulation should no longer be the primary measure of library success, although books are still the service mainlyassociated with libraries.
In Rochester, while door count, Internetusage and programming have skyrocketed since 1999, circulationhas actually decreased slightly. And, while all measures of usageincluding circulation have increased in the last 5 years, only aquarter of City patrons and 38% of County patrons checked outmaterials in 2012. In essence, there has been a shift from librariesas a provider of materials/information toward also being a provider of a broader range of services—technology and Internet access, programming, and resources for specific populations such asimmigrants and youth.3.
While RPL is a system, it should be thought of as a system of separate and unique parts—it really is “a branch thing” in thewords of one interviewee.
Serving demographically different
 areas of the City, the libraries play different roles in response. Verygenerally, in more affluent areas (Winton, Charlotte and Monroe)circulation is higher, while program attendance, Internet use and door count is lower; the converse is true in areas with higher or increasing poverty rates (Lyell, Wheatley, Lincoln, Sully, Arnett,Maplewood and Highland). Six libraries serve more youth (Arnett,Lincoln, Lyell, Maplewood, Sully and Wheatley), some moreLatinos (Lincoln and Lyell) and at least three have an increasingimmigrant/refugee population (Maplewood, Wheatley, Highland).As a result, there are systemic questions that must be studied and resolved—number and type of service outlets/branches, locationand hours of services, investments in collections vs. peopleresources, potential partnerships, standardization of some policies,evolving staff roles—but these decisions will need to be driven bythe unique reality of each branch.For example, it is possible that libraries with high circulation and low Internet usage should invest in new fiction, becomeincreasingly self-service, and not expend staff time in designingand promoting programs that are not well attended. Other librariesmay decide to invest more in programming for youth, staffing to provide computer assistance, or serving a specific immigrant population. Leadership and the City will also have to decide when,if and how data will be used to make decisions about branchlocations in the future.4.
In this context, staff matters a great deal.
For libraries to beresponsive to community needs and changes in the way societyaccesses information, new staff capacities are required.Stakeholder interviews and data confirmed that increasingly librarystaff must be community-minded, able to manage projects instrategic ways, savvy at volunteer mobilization, and skillful in planning and implementing outreach/communication/publicrelations. In many libraries, youth development is seen as another core competency, and the lack of diversity of the library workforceis problematic. In particular, there is a lack of Spanish speakingstaff. Stability of staffing is also a concern.5.
Stakeholders in Rochester hold RPL in high regard, andstrongly believe that libraries are a critical aspect of preservingand building strong communities.
They see the tensions inherentin libraries serving such a wide array of residents’ needs and desires. The survey and interview respondents shared specificopportunities for improvement and ideas for the future (which have been separately conveyed to management) and a few expressed concerns that libraries stick to their core mission and not become

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