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Midland Community Needs Analysis Heather J. Elliot, Amber L. Strangstalien Emporia State University


Role of Researcher in the Community

We chose to focus on Midland Library for different reasons. My (Heather) motivation came from working as a page within the Multnomah County Library system. I was part of a system wide assistance team and traveled around the county working in all of the branches in Multnomah County, and therefore was familiar with Midland Library. While I do not live within the defined boundaries of East County, I do reside in Portland, Oregon and am passionate about all communities served in and around the region as well as the function of its libraries. After attending a training session on leveraging diversity and learning about the rapidly changing demographics in East County, I was curious to see if Midland Library was keeping up with the trend, and this was my reason for further investigation. I (Amber) am a regular volunteer for the Multnomah County Library system, specifically the Holgate branch which is the only other branch besides Midland that caters to the widest range of non-English speakers through materials and staff. I was hoping to learn something about immigrant populations that I could apply to my service for the Holgate branch. I was also curious about the possible reasons behind the high circulation rate at Midland library and was hoping to discover its qualitative value through community analysis. Once we visited the library and applied the CARI model to our research, we found the data gathered by means of the windshield survey observation to confirm that Midland Library did seem to be adjusting services to the changing demographics, but possibly the aging population needs were not being met. And so, our research question then became: In what ways can Midland Library increase services to the elderly population?


Focus of Community Analysis

Midland Library is a branch of the public library system in Portland, Oregon. It is located far from the city in the outer southeast on 122nd avenue between SE Stark and Division Street on a busy four lane road. Though there is a sidewalk on both sides, it is usually empty of pedestrians and only two crosswalks were noticed in that stretch of road. As 1 of 19 neighborhood branches, Midland Library shares a mission statement with the rest of the Multnomah County Library system, to enrich the lives of its community by fostering diverse opportunities for all people to read, learn, and connect. It is the largest branch in the system and holds the most materials outside of Central Library downtown. It serves a very diverse community encompassing all four of the target languages around the county: Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian. There is bilingual staff present, collections and signage in all four languages and also programs like computer lab and story times conducted in the various languages.

Current Resources and Services

There are many programs currently scheduled on a regular basis at Midland Library to serve its population. Midland offers storytime in many forms catering to Tiny Tots, Book Babies, Preschool, and Toddler age ranges. Also, there is a Pajama Time, Family Storytime, and storytime in Chinese and Spanish as well as the new addition, Black Storytime. For tweens and teens, Midland runs a chess club, a tween book club, a teen council, and a teen lounge and homework center. Adults also have their own book club, called Pageturners, a

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS yarn club, talk time (practice for those coming to English as a second language), and many computer learning labs (in English, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Spanish). In addition to these regular goings on, Midland library hosts a variety of meetings and lectures that change monthly. For example, in the months of November and December, there were several series on budgeting for the holidays and crafting for gifts.

Target of Community Analysis

Despite our initial interest in the changing demographics of East County, we have targeted the aging population as the more marginalized group at Midland library since their population around the library is relatively high, though fairly invisible in terms of service. Midland currently offers only an Introduction to Computers class which is a four part series and aimed at adults over 50 and also a Think About the Future: Long Term Care course. In the surrounding area, there are several assisted living facilities for the aging. Our questions for the directors were whether or not they currently had some sort of service provided by Multnomah County Library system, if they had their own in-house library for residents, and whether or not there were current needs or wants not being met that the library could somehow help fill. At this point, eight facilities have been contacted and half answered our questions. Most of the centers do have a working relationship with the Multnomah County Library system, albeit a brief and minor one. They provide a crate or two of library materials on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Sadly, requests for specific material are not granted and the selection seems random. Most centers are equipped with their own small library made up of donations which are

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS often overlooked by residents who use the designated spaces more for playing board games and putting puzzles together. We were even invited to one center and had the pleasure of speaking with the activities director and observing the residents. We know it is imperative to interview the senior residents about their own information wants or needs, but as of the submission of this paper we have been unable to do so. We have developed a short questionnaire that will provide valuable insight into the needs of this community. This questionnaire asks the following questions: 1) Do you use the library? Which one? 2) If not, what keeps you from using the library now? 3) What do you mainly use the library for? Reading? Computers? Movies? Audiobooks? Social Aspect? 4) Would you be interested in any of the following... traveling lecture series read to the dogs intergenerational mentoring 5) Do you have needs or wants not currently being met? How do you think the library could help?

Data Gathered Using CARI Model

From the 2010 census, we gathered information about the population within a two mile radius of Midland Library. A striking trend we noticed was the higher percentage in every single category for Midland Library versus the whole of Multnomah County. Midland Library Multnomah County population 91,672........................................748,031 Hispanic/Latino 13,818 (15%).......................80,138 (10.9%) African American 6,234 (7%).......................41,404 (5.6%) under 5 6,906 (8%)...................................46,298 (6.3%) under 18 22,586 (25%)..............................150,683 (20.5%) 60 and over 15,913 (17%)...........................116,337 (15.8%) Chinese spoken at home 1,424 (1.7%).........7,829 (1.2%) Russian spoken at home 3,223 (3.8%).........9,132 (1.4%) Spanish spoken at home 8,770 (10.3%).......54,535 (8.2%)

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS Vietnamese spoken at home 2,756 (3.3%)...11,307 (1.7%) percent change population 2000 to 2010 (26.5%).....(11.3%)

Midland Library was serving the youth and young family population with gusto, and we found that they were beginning to match the growth of ethnic populations in the neighborhood as well, mainly with bilingual storytimes and staff, and even starting a black resource collection and storytime. However, the aging population is at 17% around the library and we did not witness any programming or even marketing geared towards seniors. The literature found in the library all pertained to the caregiver and not to the aging themselves. The windshield survey also provided us with valuable information about the environment surrounding the library. There is good public transportation access being within walking distance of a Max stop and Bus 4, as well as having Bus 71 stop just outside of the library. There is also a park facing the library equipped with hiking paths, picnic tables and public art. Through the windshield survey observations, we came to the conclusion that the area is not necessarily residential though the strip is dotted with some apartment buildings. The area is very commercial, although no independent shops or grocery stores are around. Mainly the businesses lining the street consist of tax preparation, strip malls with chain stores, car lots, fast food restaurants, and a strip club just next door. Part of our data gathering also came from a map that was placed in the entrance of the library for one week with color coded star stickers for the various age groups that allowed patrons to mark their place of residence. From this exercise we learned the highest percentage of participating users was in the 26-55 year age range (38%). These users are most likely the

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS parents of small children and/or the children and caretakers of aging parents. Rightly so, parenting and caring for the elderly are both a heavy focus at Midland. The lowest percentage of participating users was in the 56+ year age range (8%). This is interesting since they comprise 17% of the population 2 miles around the library. We believe there is clearly room for improvements in elderly services since the current focus is oriented more toward their loved ones and not the aging individuals themselves. Users 18 and under totaled 36% compared to only 20% of the entire county. This significantly higher percentage may account for the heavy childrens programming at Midland we noticed upon our visit to the library and observations of the children and young adult sections.

Data Analysis
This continues to be an ongoing process as it will take some time to visit all of the facilities in the area, observe current programming and gather more information by speaking with staff and residents to make it a true and thorough community analysis. Already we have learned new things, even in this preliminary stage. One discovery that we had not considered at the beginning was that there are a few tiers to assisted living. The very first tier would be more of a retirement community with little assistance necessary. At this level, people are merely living in the same designated area or complex and are quite capable of taking care of themselves. They are more active and sometimes even still driving.

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS The next stage might include a communal living space with separate apartments, but with onsite nursing care, a shared meal option, etc. The final tier is that of adult foster care housing. This is often not advertised and there are no signs of an elder care facility from the outside. These residents are in regular homes, but the facilities are limited to a small number of residents, perhaps four, with more personalized care. A few of the assisted living centers with smaller populations specialize in Alzheimers and dementia and have residents with very specific needs. One of these, the Golden Age Center located near the Midland library, did have their own library composed of donations from family and staff, but no official library service provided by MCL. It would be harder of course to interview or survey these residents because of their condition, and unfortunately we dont think our program ideas would work in these sorts of situations. The facility we visited, Cascade Terrace located south of the library on 122nd avenue, happened to be situated among the final tiers of assisted living. Though some short-term residents did live there, rehabilitating from a fall or an illness, the majority of residents were long term, or hospice care. These residents are at the end of life and need constant care and supervision.

Service Proposals

Traveling lecture series, taking the library to the people.

The library currently hosts many lectures, author and artist visits, bookclubs and other activities, but many of the aging population are missing out on them. Perhaps it is due to health or mobility

COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS issues and in this regard, having a traveling library lecture series (or bookclub or other activity) would fill the gap.

Read to the dogs for seniors, boosting health with some relaxation and furry love.

Studies have shown that stroking a cat or dog lowers blood pressure and overall stress. Currently Multnomah County Library has a program called Read to the Dogs where youngsters practice their reading skills by sitting down with a dog for a time. Why not extend that to the aging population?

Intergenerational mentoring.

We propose pairing the high youth population with someone from the aging demographic in a two-way mentoring role. Because of the high populations in each age bracket (under 18 and over 65), we thought it would be effective to pair the two age brackets up, based on interests and skills desired. This could act much the same as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program does only the mentoring would extend both ways. The older individual would get to learn the newest trends in technology and have a little companionship while the young adult would get wisdom from their mentor as well as perhaps a little confidence in sharing.

Assessment Techniques
When we proposed our service ideas to the director of the center we visited, the traveling lecture series seemed to her, to be the most popular idea. This would also require the least amount of planning and extra budgetary expenses since it is already part of the library


COMMUNITY NEEDS ANALYSIS programming, at least in the library itself. She shared how reading to the dogs would be well received among residents since she is already seeing success with animals brought in by DoveLewis, a local animal hospital. Finally, we suggested the inter-generational mentoring activity involving teens and seniors. She informed us about state laws restricting children under 18 from direct contact with the seniors unless supervised. We imagine the librarys volunteer coordinator could play this supervisory role and dont think this hurdle is insurmountable. Our way of assessing the success of the programs would be mainly through attendance and participant feedback. Resident engagement can be monitored by conferring with the lecturer and through a survey of residents afterwards of thoughts on the program. Our hope in suggesting these new services would be to improve emotional well-being in the residents and to keep their minds active. This would be harder to assess but we believe that there would be signs of these changes, such as more involvement in the resident community and also suggestions of lecture topics.