Monday, August 18, 2014

Planning for the next year

For a variety of reasons, those of us involved in the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries Cluster have been continuing on in our work without too much thought to re-examining what it is we are doing.  It feels right to me to do that work now.  We are finishing our first full year of operating in this new way at the end of September.  Should we continue on doing the same?  Should some things be tweaked, changed, added, or thrown out completely?

Two very specific, but unrelated, events happened in the last week that were the catalyst to this.  One, I was given the metric by which the success of the cluster would be measured.  Two, I attended a very helpful Project Planning seminar that provided an excellent tool for future planning.

With this in mind, I created a SurveyMonkey and sent it to all of the cluster staff, with the promise of a drawing for a prize for thoughtful answers.  (I'm a firm believer in incentives.)  I will use the responses from the staff to work with the library managers, and others in the cluster to create a plan of work for the next year.

I then thought it would be interesting to get input from those people who are outside of the cluster, but, apparently, have been following this blog.  The link below will take you to a copy of the same survey the cluster staff are being encouraged to complete.  Some of it may not be relevant to an "outsider." But, I am still interested to see what you have to say.

Thank you for your interest, and your input.  (Please do not respond to this link if you are a NPNL cluster staff member.  Staff members should use the link in the email I sent.)

Marion and the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries Cluster

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sharing Programs

One of our early goals in the cluster branches was to do skill sharing, and have librarians, and other staff take their talents on the road.  The following was written by Marcela Franco, from Kensington Library about her experience of doing program at another library and the unexpected added benefits.

"After Marion asked us to take one of our successful programs to other branches, I volunteered to do a series of three classes in beginner Spanish at another branch. Christina from Widener invited me to do the series at Widener, and offered to do a Career Services Workshops at Kensington in August 2014.

My friend Hilda Bravo and I taught the classes on three Tuesday mornings in July. We had just a few students, but they were motivated and bright! Topics included greetings, numbers, colors and the verbs ser and estar.

The classes were fun, as I expected. We also got the opportunity to use a smart board for the first time, which really enhanced the experience for the teachers as well as the students. Another benefit was that I became more familiar with the Widener Branch and the staff.  In fact, it started to feel like my home away from home. When Prather, the branch manager, asked for staffing help at a branch head meeting, I gladly offered to go. On the day I filled in, I had another good day at Widener. The staff was friendly, the patrons were exceptionally polite, and I got to know Prather much better.

All in all, I enjoyed the experience and got a lot out of it. I look forward to Christina's program at Kensington Library later this month."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Cluster in the community

This post is written and submitted by Judi Moore, Manager at McPherson Square Library. 

At one of the first cluster library managers meetings we set about to determine what our goals should be for this grand cluster experiment.  We quickly determined that one of the most important things to all of us was community involvement.  With that in mind, we decided to reach out to other community groups by hosting a series of meetings.  They were invited to have lunch with us.  At the first lunch/meeting we filled the meeting room at Cecil B. Moore library.  Our goal had been to learn what the community wanted from us and how the community could support us.  However, it turned out that the impact of the gathering was broader than we’d expected.  Not only did the participants focus on their relationship with the cluster libraries, but they also began brainstorming on what they could do with one another.  After the meeting I saw people talking excitedly.  I overheard, “I didn’t know you did that!” and “I could help you with that.”  There was a real buzz in the room.
 Our second community meeting was at the Rodriguez library.  For this meeting we broke into small groups to brainstorm.  In my group a SEPTA transit police officer was interested in what he could do to help the Kensington and McPherson libraries, since we are along the El corridor.  He has since been in contact with me, and has sent some of his officers in to sign our log book.  I had no idea the transit police would be interested in problems we have here in McPherson Square Park.  Another man in our small group was a community artist.  He was interested in more art programs in libraries.  He was amazed and delighted to learn about the Maker programs going on at McPherson and Kensington libraries.  Marcela told him about the 3D printer project at Kensington, and I talked about the etextiles and our trashbag fashion show.  At the beginning of our meeting he was clearly disgruntled and on a mission to demand more arts programming.  By the end  of our breakout session his negative attitude had thoroughly turned around to great enthusiasm. 

We’re planning another cluster community meeting soon, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people and learning about what they are doing in the community, and how we can work together.