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Technology part of library's vision
Keys remain learning and convenience
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Forsyth County News

Other action
Also Tuesday, Forsyth County's library board:

* Agreed to fund the Memorial Day holiday for library employees. The personnel budget had some savings as the system approaches the end of its fiscal year in June. The library will be closed on Sunday and Monday.

* Revised its policy to allow volunteers to be treated like employees during a job application process.

* Postponed a decision on a banking services contract until the county commission approves a pending deal with United Community Bank.

* Reviewed recent circulation numbers, including for the e-Branch of the library that debuted May 2. Circulation of downloadable materials more than doubled from the first week to the second.

Note: All votes were 4-0, with Bob Keller absent, unless otherwise noted.

-- Alyssa LaRenzie

Officials are looking at five marketing trends as they consider how best to move Forsyth County Public Library services forward.

The local library board on Tuesday night reviewed strategies and projects to meet three goals: making the library more convenient to use; fostering lifelong learning; and maximizing operational effectiveness.

To that end, the system has implemented several new programs with more in the works, said Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities.

The first trend Beasley pointed to is consumers’ increasing use of mobile technology, such as smart phones.

The library’s e-Branch, which provides books and references to e-Readers, launched May 2. The virtual library also offers downloadable materials.

In the future, Beasley said, the library system plans to launch “roving reference” technology, similar to a tablet computer that visitors can use around the building.

Citing social networking, she pointed to the “interconnectedness of people and technology.”

Beasley added that connection comes through “community engagement,” something the library strives to keep strong by working with local schools and participating in community activities.

Despite the advances in technology, consumers also seek to downsize to simple and sustainable lifestyles and products.

“We are going green and trying to be eco-superior here,” Beasley said.

The Hampton Park branch used some sustainable construction methods, and the Post Road Library, which is in the works, has been planned to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The branches are also cleaned using only environmentally friendly products and, in the future, management systems may be installed to reduce energy consumption.

Consumers also look for social responsibility and generosity of businesses, Beasley said. For a public library system, that means high customer service.

Consumers also expect customization of products, Beasley said.

“Consumers are looking to collect as many experiences as possible, preferably customized for themselves.” she said. “What is our library experience? It’s something for us to think about.”

The library provides many programs to meet these demands, Beasley said, especially in expanding its range of programs for adults.

Board member Kristin Morrissey applauded staff members for their ideas, and suggested giving short community presentations on what the modern library is all about.

“I think people would be astonished and amazed and would use the library more,” Morrissey said. “We need to really show people what we are offering nowadays, hands on.”

By the same token, some folks will never shop or network online, she said, so it’s important to provide a balance for the diverse community.