Detroit Lakes library wants community input on long-term priorities

A community survey is going on now through Friday, Nov. 20. Visit the library, or its Facebook page or website, to take the 10-minute survey.

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The Detroit Lakes Public Library community input survey, developed by Library Strategies Consulting Group of St. Paul, is designed to help library leaders more effectively and fully serve the community into the future. The survey is available online on the library's Facebook page and website, or paper copies are available at the library. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)

Leaders of the Detroit Lakes Public Library are looking forward to the future, and they’re seeking public input on potential long-term plans for the library’s services, programs and historic building.

Since getting the Detroit Lakes City Council's approval in July to conduct a community needs assessment, the library board has been working through the process with a consulting firm out of St. Paul, called Library Strategies.

“The overarching reason behind why we're doing this community needs assessment is, we’re looking to the future," said Library Director Greta Guck. "We're looking to see if the programs and services we offer now are really what people are wanting and needing. If they are, great -- how can we build on that? And if they’re not, what are we missing? What might we be able to offer that we’re not?”

Guck said a consultant with the firm visited Detroit Lakes in late September to get a feel for the library as well as the broader community. The consultant examined the library building -- “nuts and bolts stuff” like the condition of the HVAC system, said Guck, along with layout and design features that define the space and affect customer flow.

The consultant also talked to people at the library and around town to collect different thoughts and perspectives. Twenty-two stakeholders were interviewed one-on-one for their input, Guck said, and in December, focus groups will be held to provide even more input.


They’re hoping a third piece of the assessment, a community survey, will garner responses from residents all across Becker County, library users and non-users alike. The survey is going on now through Friday, Nov. 20, and Guck said it could offer generous insights and ideas about the library as it is today -- and as it could be tomorrow.

“The community input survey is the piece that will help us reach as many people as possible,” she said.

The survey consists of fewer than 20 questions and takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. It’s available to fill out online, on the library’s Facebook page or website , or on paper at the library. Responses will be kept confidential.

Guck said the survey results will be compiled and analyzed along with the one-on-one interview responses, focus group feedback and other information collected by the consultant. Library Strategies will take all that and devise recommendations for short-term (within the next two years), mid-range (the next 3-5 years) and long-term (anything beyond that) goals for the library. That report should be released by late January.

“We’re going into it with no expectations,” Guck said. “So much of the time we’re just trying to guess or anticipate what people need and where we should be putting our priorities or focus, and this is really just reaching out and trying to ask people -- to make our future community-driven.”

The leadership team behind the community needs assessment includes members of the library board, library clubs, and the Friends of the Library. The idea for the assessment came about casually, Guck said, as a few of those people were looking around the building one day and recalling how long it had been since the last updates were made. That conversation progressed into one about setting some long-term goals for the library -- with the community's help.

“We just wanted to start asking some questions and making a plan,” said Guck. “This is very much foundational.”

The library building is a Carnegie library, originally constructed in 1913 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It hasn’t had any significant upgrades since an addition in 1989.

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