Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Beginning

The North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries
An Experiment

As a recommendation, the Design Team of the Free Library of Philadelphia, it was suggested that the library adjust to their service model to one that "clusters" several branches together to provide program and other services to neighborhood residents in a more collaborative way. The cluster is supposed to be autonomous and visionary.

 The other recommendation is that the libraries and the librarians become "embedded" in their surrounding neighborhoods.  The goal is to enable librarians to move from behind their desks and computers and to go out to provide support to local schools and social service organizations.

As soon as it was confirmed that Cecil B. Moore, Kensington, Lillian Marrero, McPherson Square, Ramonita G. deRodriguez and Widener would be the branches to form the first cluster, and that I would be the leader of the cluster, I started meeting with the branch heads.

At the first meeting, on June 14, 2013,  we discussed some ideas in very broad strokes.  We talked about how to share skills and what that might look like.  Everyone agreed to go back and look at the Free Library's strategic plan once again.

We had a brief discussion about how we would evaluate our own success.  We decided to use Outcomes Based Evaluation and referenced a tutorial from New York State Library to learn more about that form of evaluation.

Two outcomes/objectives we quickly identified are:
1.        Facilities that are beacons in their neighborhoods.  They should be groomed, bright and welcoming.
2.       Plan and initiate a standardized orientation for new FLP employees that includes filling out timesheets, etc.
In reference to the first outcome, we talked about having a “cluster gardener” that could be an MG with a particular talent.  We also talked about a collaboration with PHS or Penn State’s Master Gardener program.

A cluster Social Worker was also mentioned.  Someone who could spend one or two days at each branch.

Other ideas mentioned were:

  • Ordering our own materials
  • Have a shared gmail address
  • Webcams for conference calls or teleconferences

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