Delaware County Libraries is seeking community input on its future plans

Springfield Township Public Library

Springfield Township Public Library. (Wikimedia Commons)

Delaware County Libraries is crafting a “strategic plan for the future,” and it is asking community members to fill out a survey to help shape it.

Saturday, Sept. 25, is the last day to fill out the survey and have your voice heard.

“We wanted to create a livable, breathable document created in collaboration with our community and stakeholders,” Delaware County Libraries Director Catherine Bittle said.

Unlike many other library systems, Delaware County Libraries is actually an agency of the county government. Made up of 26 member libraries across Delco, the network allows them to stay more or less independent while also providing support. It is managed by a board of directors selected by the County Council.

Currently, Delaware County Libraries offers services such as van delivery across its network, preschool outreach, and kits for educators, as well as outreach programs and services to children and younger and older adults.

But the library system is also looking toward what it hopes can be a community-driven makeover.

“We’re developing a plan that will guide our mission, vision, goals, and objectives, so that we can make the greatest impact on our activities and the way we serve our communities.” Bittle said.

So far, Delaware County Libraries has been talking with elected leaders and library staff. Recently, those have expanded into one-on-one interviews with stakeholders, virtual meetings, and now the survey.

Anny Laepple, assistant director for Delaware County Libraries, told WHYY News that the next step is synthesizing what they’ve learned and “turning those into a report that we can share with our staff and board to help create this document that we will call our five years strategic plan.”

Laepple believes that the sky’s the limit, but she wants to ground her expectations in reality. Obviously, the library system is working with a limited capacity.

“Without that magic ball to tell us what the future holds, we will have to get creative, but that’s also why we are making sure that the plan is really flexible, so that as things change over the next five years, we’ll be able to adapt our goals,” Laepple said.

Brittle thinks of the plan as more of a map than a rigid policy. So far, library officials said, responses to the survey have been “overwhelmingly positive” and filled with great ideas.

The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“We’re just so excited to see this come to fruition, and then we can hit the ground running in 2022 and determine the best way to meet the needs of the residents of Delaware County,” Bittle said.

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