Community Voices:
A Report on Focus Group Sessions to Explore the Feasibility of
Establishing a Joint Library for Fanwood and Scotch Plains

Attachment 2: Detailed Focus Group Notes

Prepared by Library Development Solutions
Princeton Junction, NJ
November 2007

Questions for participants



What Do You in Your Free Time?

      Go on the computer, participate in social networks
      Hang out with friends
      Watch television, listen to music, and go to concerts
      Try to do homework in advance of assignments
      Read books for escape reading - Michael Crichton, magazines, news and sports

What do you think about when you see the word "Library"?

      It's a resource to consult after checking the Internet; first check the Internet then go to the library as a last resort if they can't find something, school assignments do not require students to have a book
      The library is becoming obsolete in its current form
      Stale - it smells musty
      Not a place to go hang out, it's a tense place to work
      Go to the library, get what you need, leave as quickly as possible
      A place for last resort, 1st the school library, 2nd friends, 3rd library, 4th Barnes and Noble
      Older people are there who want it to be quiet
      Not accommodating to teens
      Nice old ladies who help but some that are cranky and leave you alone

Perfect Library Ideas

      Barnes and Noble with Starbucks, need to make the library more comfortable
      Armchairs that are comfortable and comfortable reading areas
      Make it like the UPenn library, a "wow library", and lots of technology
      Wireless access
      Hire younger people to work there, teenagers would apply for jobs there is it were a hipper place
      Plan for two floors, a way to separate the teens from the adults
      Create a good YA section with books that are current
      Study rooms to support group study
      Lots of natural light
      Use color, too brown now
      Distinct divisions for material genres, DDC doesn't make sense
      Create a more open feeling, lower the stacks, make books stacks that are more like those in the bookstore, less overwhelming
      Community bulletin board for event postings
      Stronger connection among social groups in Fanwood Scotch Plains - get teens to cross lines with big events, Harry Potter
      Book clubs for teens by grade and interest area hold the book clubs in the café
      Band night at the café
      Movie and trivia nights
      Teen advisory committee to help plan new programs
      Plan programs that connect teens to the library, more organized opportunities for teens
      Babysitting clearinghouse and training programs for connecting teens to parents
      Build relationships with the school libraries
      Offer more materials to support school projects
      Open a library store
      Attach extra credit to book club participation, model after the school's book beat program
      Extend hours, open until 10pm, early before school, every weekend
      Open Sunday nights
      Tutoring programs
      Communicate information about ILL
      Most important thing with teens is to get them in the door, its all about word of mouth, advertise in the school paper, thru flyers, with English teachers
      Go to Westfield for YA books
      Purchase smart board sand offer hi-tech study rooms
      Offer MACs, PCs, iPods, listening stations, school reading books that can be downloaded to the iPod
      Gaming nights
      Portable DVD player
      Data projector with LCD
      Technology for loan - laptops
      More high end software at the library: photoshop, web design
      Enough computers to extend access time

Like Best

      Quiet independent work areas
      Computer access
      DVDs at Scotch Plains
      Some librarians are nice


      Print charges
      Local history room is closed
      Fanwood layout is confusing
      Scotch Plains feels like a bunker - should be more open
      No self-service copiers
      Need color printer and copies

Location for New Library

      Keep the library close to the high school
      SP location is close to the shops
      A location in Fanwood is more central for everyone geographically
      People will drive to the library if it is appealing
      Bookstores have much more appealing array of books, more recent collections, and books when people want them, more copies to choose from. Only willing to wait a few days for the library to get the book they want to read, then they buy it. Not patient. Less willing to wait. Need a more interactive website
      Catalog is not always accurate; need more information on how to use online features
      Promote books more with face out displays


Library Roles

      A place to get information, especially electronically but also in person
      A place where someone can go to read quietly, browse the shelves and enjoy the serendipity of finding something good to read
      A gathering place and crossroads of the community
      A place where people can continuously learn
      A place for entertainment
      A place that is different from the Internet - a place to foster social connections
      A place that provides access to public computing for those without computers in their homes as well as a place where people can discover and get hands on experience with new technology
      A destination - think about a library campus that combines the senior and teen center functions, a place where linkages can be made and becomes the sum of parts
      A place for discussion and deliberation - many programs, book discussions, adult school atmosphere

Libraries Used

      Clark - closer to home than SP; better DVDs, audio books
      East Orleans, MA - gorgeous library, well maintained, large area for the latest novels, lounge area away from the entrance so it isn't noisy, continuously updated, has everything you could want
      Plainfield - go there for historic reference materials
      NJSL - historical research
      Rutgers - historical research and documents
      Westfield - historic material, pleasant atmosphere; but Westfield makes it clear that they don't want outsiders at their library, their whole attitude is negative, they won't even let you sign up for a meeting
      Cranford - brand new, spectacular library
      NYPL - one of the best
      St. Johns and LC - research
      Engineering library at a university - to support business needs and info

Perfect Library

      Dark green, 2 inch plush carpeting, mahogany tables, imitation tiffany lamps, wood paneling
      Courteous librarians who greet you at the door
      Computers are located away from the books
      Several floors - teen center away from the other areas
      An area just for seniors - place where they can watch movies
      Reading area dedicated to book discussions
      Good reference area
      Light, bright and lots of windows
      Looks like a living room
      General-purpose room and all the equipment needed to make it totally functional
      Feels like Barnes and Noble, a gathering place with as many people reading as buying books; create the same atmosphere in the library
      Upgraded "adult school" programs, run full program offerings like the adult school
      Open Sundays year round, later evening hours for the working generation, early am hours
      Waive the library fees and fines for seniors
      Online reserves
      Delivery to shut ins
      Books in many more languages
      An area where you can retrieve radio and film programs
      Create something unique for our community, something that is special just for us. When you look around the area at other libraries you realize that none of them are special or unique. We have a great opportunity to do that here.


      Improvements to the Scotch Plains library
      Usually get the books you want in a reasonable amount of time
      Staff is pleasant
      Ability to use either library
      Quick delivery
      Reserves come quickly
      Can take out the maximum number of books from both libraries at the same time
      Interesting displays at Fanwood
      The Fanwood Library supports the historic presence of the town


      99% of the people on Fanwood surveyed (55 people) want to keep the library exactly where it is, long time residents think you just need to improve the current building
      New people want the biggest and best library they can have because it is good for their children
      Libraries are too noisy these days, need to tell people to stop making noise with their cells, chewing gum has to stop, etc
.     Sometimes the books are slow to reach the shelves

Joint Library

      The Fanwood library is in the historic district can't touch it! The whole area around the Municipal Complex is historic and protected, don't mess with it! Carriage house is a local historic landmark, don't get near it!
      Interesting concept, let's explore further and see what develops, a good library might keep the seniors in town
      The libraries don't function as one, only in certain areas now, this would be an advantage
      Not excited, bigger doesn't mean better. Spend the money on improving what we have and making it better. Most Fanwood residents don't think a merger would benefit Fanwood residents
      Issue of the joint library can't be separated from the geography of the two towns, the most critical decision would be where the new library is located
      Try a joint library with a branch
      Tell us the cost delta between improving the two libraries as they currently exist versus building new
      People in Fanwood are not supportive of building a new library on the municipal campus. If a referendum were held today it would be defeated
      Support the idea because of the kids - think about providing services the children who will be soon adult voters; think about the future. Scotch plains seniors would support that
      Fanwood opposition - no way on borough complex, those away from the municipal complex think the current library is just fine
      Another option: merge and keep the two libraries as they are, reduce overhead and administration, improve the buildings
      Share grants are politically motivated; Need to provide operating costs above and beyond salaries and physical plant. How much does it cost to stock the shelves, how will those costs change over time?


      Direct mail
      Face to face meetings
      Community cable

Library Users and Non-Users

Library Roles

      Source for public computing - for those without at home and those who seek it in a public space
      Technology instruction - a place to update and learn new skills
      Community programs
      Place for teens and pre-teens, a safe haven after school
      Pre-literacy and retaining literacy
      A place where people can gather and have access to meeting rooms after hours
      Reinforce the school curriculum, help kids succeed
      Entertainment and leisure
      Support adult literacy and ESL instruction
      Research and historical research

Other Libraries Used

      Scotch Plains and Fanwood because the parking is free
      NYPL - too impersonal, used it because she worked in NYC
      Westfield for telephone directories from out of state, depth of collection, more reading material, great programs and space offered in conjunction with the adult school
      Plainfield for their microfilm and research materials but the readers can't be used because the lens is often missing
      Clark because they have a better selection of books on tape, more variety and better organized, new CDs DVDs separate from older stuff, don't have everything mixed up like at SP
      Plainfield/Elizabeth for ESL and basic literacy and tutoring rooms
      Cranford for movies
      Springfield for their great books seminar, movies and foreign film programs
      New Providence because they have an ongoing book sale

Perfect Library

      Make our library the public sector Barnes and Noble
      Book readings and signings
      7 days per week service with earlier and later hours
      Community room for 150 people
      Study rooms
      Most up to date technology possible
      AV equipment in study and community rooms
      A welcoming children's library, exciting interactive space
      Windows that open
      Easy access to transportation and if that isn't possible provide transportation to the library
      Outreach and delivery to shut ins
      5,000 new books in the new book area
      Good sound and video collection
      Outdoor reading garden
      Instructional DVDs
      YA space
      Accessible shelving that is lower and doesn't require people to climb on stools
      Space for exhibits and displays
      Community runs some of the programs
      Books that are relevant to the community and its history
      Local history area
      Free parking and lots of it
      Bike racks
      Friendly librarians
      Information about how people can contribute to the library on the web site
      More information about programs
      Petting animals in the kids area
      Book club discussions
      Reading lamps and comfortable chairs
      Pleasing to the eye
      2 floors and an elevator
      Recommendations on what to read next via email
      A building that fits with the character of the community, older look and feel
      A job clearinghouse for teens
      Good acoustics
      Ongoing book sale
      A quiet only zone
      Theater with stage
      Study carrels
      Storage for the ongoing book sale
      Smoke free outdoors
      LEED building
      Shelf in restroom for personal belongings
      Baby changing area
      Big bulleting board and a bulletin board on the website
      Good website
      Email alerts
      Garden on the roof
      Catalog that is easy to use, closer to


      Ability to renew online
      Ability to use both libraries
      Sundays at SP
      Librarians at Fanwood especially the children's librarians
      Fanwood drama club
      Lots of books at SP


      The backs of the chairs at Fanwood hit your ankles
      Fanwood opens at 10 am which is too late
      Mildew smell in buildings
      Hours - either earlier or later
      Not as many books at Fanwood
      SP remote for south side residents, don't ignore the schools
      Lack of literacy and ESL materials at SP

Joint Library

      Most agreed it was a great idea
      But it brings up fears about the total consolidation of both towns, fears that rescue and police wouldn't come as quickly as the currently do in Fanwood
      May be generational fear - kids think of SP and Fanwood as one town, they are emotionally connected to their friends regardless of where they live
      Newer residents may not care about the location
      People want to protect the friendly environment of Fanwood, don't want to lose the small town feeling
      Possibility of a big library and small branch
      Location of new library shouldn't impinge on green space
      Fanwood library feels like a small family unit
      Process so far really turns me off - decisions already made, talk about a joint library services versus building a giant new library
      The community is skeptical about the process, seems like all the decisions have already been made.
      Interesting idea - we need to see the numbers, the plans, where it will be, and operating costs - need DETAILS
      May be a negative environment in SP for fundraising because people think the government has not invested in keeping up the infrastructure, others think dollars have been wasted on frivolous things like the mini golf park
      Keep the county taxes in mind, we don't pay only locally and the county taxes kill us
      The joint library needs to be a good value proposition to succeed


      Use local papers
      Share the focus group and feasibility report
      Provide updates on the town websites
      Community TV announcements and produce a roundtable
      Keep teens informed
      Survey the community; don't just rely on focus groups
      Keep working with the infrastructure we have

General Public

Library Role

      Gets kids in the habit of using libraries, loving books, sense of community and love of reading
      Community centers- learning opportunities for people of all ages
      Creates a focus and identify for the community, becomes a place of civic pride
      Repository for local history
      Gathering space for local meetings, shared community space that is neither political nor religious

Other Libraries Used

      Springfield - the best library around, open Sundays, offer lectures, foreign films, art
      Use other libraries because of their special collections
      Berkeley Heights because they have a good fine arts collection and theater
      Westfield - school assignments
      Watchung and Westfield - Go there while the kids are in activities because the libraries are close to their lessons
      Cranford - great facility, programs for mature adults, grew up there and can always find the books you can't find here
      Clark - very nice building
      Fanwood -can walk there, the kids have the ability to walk there, it's a neighborhood place

Perfect Library

      Hours that fit better with commuter schedules
      More book club books, had to buy her own because while she was commuting there was no way for her to get to the library, spent more than $1,000 on books - it's an economic burden
      Lots of story time and kid focused programs
      Separate computer room with lots of computers
      Programs specifically for teens
      A room for teens
      Performance space
      Comfortable chairs like Barnes and Noble
      Coffee shop and café
      Space where kids can speak and interact without bothering others
      Quiet space
      More copies of newer books
      Separate area for AV so it doesn't become distracting for kids while they are looking for books
      Lots of programs for adult's
      Open to innovative ideas- therapy dogs
      Attractive building with ample parking
      Bike parking
      Public transportation that gets you to the library
      Someone who can help you find information and navigate the web
      Classes for computer instruction on business startups- how to manage your portfolio, travel
      Author series and speakers
      Provide resources to support non-English speakers
      A small reading garden
      A used bookstore
      The ability to serve all generations simultaneously


      Fanwood's small, non-overwhelming feeling
      Relaxing and personal at Fanwood staff are approachable which makes it easy to ask questions
      The selection of material at SP
      SP's new director
      Ability to walk to the Fanwood library
      SP location makes it easy to combine a trip to the library with other errands
      SP parking and programs
      SP reference and ILL
      Fanwood summer programs and pre school programs
      SP proximity to HS and MS
      Online catalog and delivery and any place returns makes it seem like one library already
      Fanwood feels like home, non-institutional and warm


      SP - exterior is outdated, makes people not curious to go in because it feels old and dated
      SP -HVAC stinks
      Reference librarian at SP
      Neither library is adequate for current needs

Joint Library

      If it involves a new building probably won't support, Fanwood has become a town of "pointy towers and condos"
      Concerned about the South Avenue redevelopment project which has resulted in trust issues
      Concerns about having the new library at the municipal site
      Need for the joint library should be explored but what would become of the Fanwood Library?
      Is it possible to do a joint library on a smaller scale?
      Want more specifics about the savings that would result from combining the two libraries or where it would improve
      What would happen to the staff?
      More information about who uses the libraries now, their age, what percentage of the towns use the library
      Link the school catalogs to the Scotch Plains Fanwood catalog


Library Roles

      Library can become the anchor of the community, easily accessible by car or foot
      A place to support pre-literacy and emerging readers all the way to older adults
      A gathering place
      Access to technology for all people who can't afford technology of don't want technology in their homes
      A place to reduce social isolation
      A nurturing place for kids
      A community center - a place that brings all people in the community together through programs, especially after school - the equivalent of the town pool, a destination
      Programs for all ages - pre teens and teens
      A place to escape for parents, a place of serenity, a place that is for books

Perfect Library

      More hours, 8 am to 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday year round, 10-5 on Sundays
      A community room that provides a gathering space
      A place for local history
      More books, especially periodicals, especially more non-fiction
      Be on the forefront of technology
      The first floor should be busy with 200 seat area, kids services with everything you can imagine, a small reading room or adults
      2nd floor should be quiet - reference, teen librarian, business support area with fax machines, copiers, state of the art equipment, individual small and large meeting areas, conference rooms and study rooms, technology training areas
      Garden area maintained by the garden clubs and school kids
      A kids program room with carpeting and a puppet stage
      Computers with preloaded games and headset in an enclosed area
      Kid sized furniture, coloring desks
      Easily accessible driver's side book drop
      Lots of natural light - zoned HVAC
      Better way to track kids books and get them back when others need them - limit the number you can borrow, implement a call back system, institute email alerts with an opt out option
      Really complete collections - music, classic films, documentaries, and the ability to access media on all topics
      Beautiful façade that reflects the stature of the town
      Great signs, interesting architecture
      Exhibit space for art and local displays
      Thought provoking exhibits
      Big squishy chairs where you can just sink in and read
      Multiple program offering times, especially for more popular programs
      Programs that are offered at times that work for working parents and kids
      More visiting authors
      Programs to support the school curriculum
      A safe environment for kids after school

Other Libraries Used

      Use Fanwood and SP evenly, search from home then go to where the book is, it's like having two libraries, closer to Fanwood that SP
      Plainfield - I'll go to any library that is within a reasonable distance
      Library is almost obsolete in its research and information role, library needs to offer students something that they can't get in school or at home
      Westfield - free membership
      Cranford -audio books, there is not enough selection here
      Cranford and Westfield for programs
      Go to where there are great children's programs but hate other libraries exclusionary policies that keep non-residents away

Joint Library

      Concerned about the reuse of the existing libraries
      Want to make sure there is walkability and access
      Keep our mind open about the joint governance and its physical space
      Enjoy both libraries for different reasons, Fanwood has a great family atmosphere
      It's nice to see that the two towns are forward thinking
      Great that the library directors are willing to take a risk on this
      If you are not forward thinking, not thinking about the future for our children, challenge yourself to think about this carefully


      Use email for the most direct communication let people opt out if they don't want the info
      Use the local cable station to broadcast town hall meetings on this topic, publicize the town hall meetings on the cable station
      Use the local papers
      Backpack notices
      Links on the town websites
      Town mailings to people on the edges that have non Fanwood and SP zips are problematic
      Make sure it is community appropriate architecture

Library Leaders

Perfect Library

      A place where people can make Internet productions and content for the web
      Small rooms for multiple purposes
      Wonderful the day it opens, but need to make sure that it is built to support change - raised floors
      Smaller reference desk, tablet PCs for staff to walk around, wireless PCs, info kiosks, no more stumbling over the reference desk
      Concierge type reference desk - everyone has access at a central location
      Less compartmentalized design, a central desk that gets you to the right spot
      Reference area is a place to help people with computers, find stuff on Google
      Invest in things that help the public more, make it so the library staff can access the desktops for remote help desk function
      Word processing in a designated area, don't need professional staff to help people with this
      Role of the librarian is to be the command center for great 24/7 service
      A call line to answer any question

Issues for the Future

      How can we help people who are Google centric receive good information
      We can't just be good enough; people are not using our content databases even though high-quality information is not available on the web
      Next generation is less patient - how do we engage them in our model?
      Need for collaboration and partnerships
      Need to be on top of the demographic trends in our towns in terms of pop growth, ensure the inclusion of non-native English speakers, make buildings universally accessible
      Social aspect of the library is really big. Librarians spend too much time trying to suppress the social aspect, build a new culture that makes it okay to be social in the library
      Place with lots of little spaces where anyone can find their own unique place, can see everything
      Still a lot of books for people who don't want to own them, e-books may take away from space formerly designated for books, get rid of digital rights management and then people will download everything to their iPods
      Everyone has to have a vested interest in what the new library can offer them - scholastic advancement, something for every chapter of their life, technology edgy, unrestricted access to computers, allow people to have their own personal share space on library computers
      People have reconstructed what used to be their "office" to their "computer"
      Give up the information function to the for-profit sector? Libraries are a place today not a function; don't focus on a specific technology
      Mothers bring their children for socialization and entertainment to expose them to something good
      Safe place for kids in a controlled environment
      Determine the tipping point - what will it take to get people back to libraries

Joint Library Strategy

      Show what you get together versus staying separate
      Bar chart that illustrates the savings
      Opportunity to model for other communities
      Stress the community front/back porch concept

Joint Library Boards

Library Trends

The group discussed the three articles distributed prior to the meeting and observed the following:
      Intellectual pursuits are no longer the primary reason for using libraries
      Libraries are continually evolving; it is important to focus on a service program and design buildings that allow the library staff to adapt to changing community needs
      It is important to demonstrate the economic impact of libraries, every dollar invested in the library attracts additional funds through businesses or homeowners who decide to relocate or invest in the community because its schools, libraries, and other public services
      Libraries are becoming destinations; libraries are as much about place as they are about services; library buildings need to mesh with the community's expectations
      The building needs to be a vessel for services; the building is important in establishing attitude and feeling; a new joint library needs to transcend the individual library identities and create a new feeling
      There is increasing competition from book stores like Barnes and Noble and Borders for the book related public
      Need to tap into the sophistication of the community and make the library the place that brings people together

Project Challenges:

The Boards identified several challenges associated with this project:
      The benefits of a joint library may not be readily apparent to community residents
      People may not see a need for a new library; others may see it as just the first step towards unification of the two towns
      Scotch Plains residents may think they have already invested in modernizing their library as a result of recent improvements and feel there is no need to go any further
      Finding a suitable location which provides for adequate parking, traffic control and easy access for residents of both communities
      Fears about who will pay and how much the project will cost taxpayers
      The need to balance the competing interests of different age groups simultaneously so everyone can enjoy the library experience
      People who don't use the library now may not see a need to invest in a new library
      Creating something that makes the project attractive to non-users - extended hours, a café, meeting space, the ability to connect with others, comfortable spaces - help them think about benefits of the project that might not have occurred to them
      Stress the unique aspects of establishing a joint library
      People will feel like they are losing something familiar if the old libraries close; focus on what is to be gained with the new structure
      Be honest about the shortcomings of the existing buildings
      Invite people to envision what the new space should be like
      Find an appropriate re-use for both library buildings

Imagining the Future - What would an amazing library be like?

      Feels like home
      Easy to navigate and find what I am looking for
      Looks like a library; I see lots of books
      Lots of natural and artificial light
      Great acoustics, noise is soaked up and not a distraction
      Flexible, changeable space that can be adapted on a moment's notice
      Fresh and contemporary
      Accessible, friendly staff
      Self service options
      A magical feeling for kids, the same kind of anticipation that a child feels when they go to Toys R Us
      Engaging art everywhere in the building
      A sense of wonder about the space
      An auditorium with a stage with seating for at least 150 people
      Technology that can support well-produced programs
      Space that promotes the two communities - community bulletin boards; give people an instant sense of what's going on
      Separate history rooms for each community?
      Designated cell phone area
      Leading edge technology; a technology super center
      Safe areas where children can interact with each other
      Project space, proctoring space, tutoring space
      Messy space for kids
      Outdoor space - playground, amphitheater
      Space to accommodate textbooks from the schools
      Separate program area for kids with a place for messy craft activities
      Space for collecting community donations
      Book store; space for an ongoing book sale
      A wide variety of materials: books, DVDs, multiple copies of best sellers; reference area
      Functional Stack and storage space
      A green building that is considered a standout for NJ libraries; rain garden
      Great back room space for staff
      A unique area to recognize contributors
      Good places for read aloud; a place where kids can be kids and adults stay away
      Stroller, bike and skateboard parking
      Place to watch movies and listen to music
      Big screen televisions
      Drop off area for books without getting out of your car
      Good space for staff
      Quiet nooks
      A transparent building exterior that fits with the environment and is inspiring
      Piazza space around the library
      Sensitive to the neighborhood

What Do You See When You Walk Through the Door?

      Lots of hustle and bustle
      It's like walking up the stairs to the Met; you get the immediate energy of the lobby of a museum where people are congregating and then spaces where people can go off on their own to explore further; like Grand Central Station
      Universal design and accessibility
      A feeling that there is something for everyone; space that provides from a transition from outside to inside
      Immediate access to staff
      Warm and inviting, a sense of relaxing space, a home-like atmosphere
      Create a special experience at the entry
      Continue to "wow" people all the way into the kid and teen areas
      Stimulate the senses, intuitive design
      Security devices that are not obvious
      Appealing graphics and signage
      Wider aisles, lower stacks, stools in the browsing area

What are people/you doing in the new library?

      Using computers
      Working on group projects
      Attending meetings with small or large groups
      Attending a program or concert
      Borrowing materials; the library is THE PLACE to be
      Reading the newspaper
      Engaging in kids activities
      Checking out the bulletin boards
      Working with a tutor
      Smiling and engaged in conversation
      Participating in a books club, engaged with other adults, knitting
      Browsing in a crowd of people who are wandering around the book shelves

How Do We Lure People In?

      Outdoor patio/ piazza
      Convenient, free, low cost parking
      The ability to eat a lunch or grab a cup of coffee at the library
      Multiple opportunities for people to do things
      Lunch and lectures
      Make it more routine to go to the library; a place where people want to go everyday
      Create an alternative to Dunkin Donuts; a place where you can meet a friend
      Unexpected programs that attract people
      Offer other amenities at the library; post office, used books store; gift shop
      Extend hours so that commuters and families can get to the library during their free time
      Provide an exterior signboard that makes it easy to learn about events going on in the library
      Hands on activities for kids, puppets, toys, puzzles
      Outdoor activities in the piazza - simultaneous chess, checkers, poetry readings
      Collaborate with adult education and other community organizations to host events in the library
      Indoor and outdoor gardens
      Provide a safe, after school space for middle school kids and promote it to their parents

Things to Preserve from the Existing Libraries

      Murals like those in the Fanwood Library
      Display cases that allow for "quirky" displays
      Proximity to staff, preserving the small town feel of staff and patron interactions; friendly and consistent treatment
      Tall ceilings
      Comfortable seating for children
      Room to look at the collections
      Local history area

Things to Leave Behind

      Massive, abrupt, sterile service desks
      Tight areas for public computing
      Clutter in the vestibule
      Sense of being overwhelmed by high stacks
      Noisy mechanical equipment
      The feeling that you need to get in and out as quickly as possible because there is no room
      The darkness of the current buildings


The participants broke into small groups to discuss these questions.
      What excites you about this project?
      What scares you?
      What are the challenges we need to address?

What excites you?

      Bigger and better library offers the ability to provide more resources and opportunities for users
      More possibilities for better service if both communities work together
      Stronger library
      All new future, snack and gift shops
      The ability to keep up with modern technology
      Green building
      A warm and fuzzy environment
      New clean and pretty building
      State of the art building
      Pride and a feeling of unity
      Improved relationship between the towns
      Quiet room for readers
      Having more space to do things
      Staff bathroom and gym
      Windows that open
      Environmentally friendly
      Possibilities for a lounge area, employee restrooms, dedicated custodial staff, more space for movies, separate children and teen areas, accessibility for the disabled, all on same floor
      Improved location and layout
      Better collection
      Less running back and forth
      Enough computers for kids
      New computers and training lab
      Guinea pigs
      Dedicated staff for reference, technology, improved customer service
      Potential for in-house technology support
      Uniform hours

What Scares You?

      Will we have jobs, new demands on staff, uncertain about salaries?
      Community may not accept
      The possibility of a cold, modern feeling
      Don't want to loose the community feeling
      Will the new library be so big that it's overwhelming?
      Will we get lost in it?
      Can we sell it to the public in appositive manner?
      Percentage of joint library projects that have failed
      Increased taxes
      Percentage of people in town who are library users and not just card holders
      Allergies to guinea pigs
      Fanwood will be swallowed up and lose the neighborhood quality and familiarity
      Self-checkout and other efficiencies will mean the loss of jobs
      Job security
      Civil service versus non civil service
      Seniority and rank may be lost
      Duplication of jobs

Biggest Challenges

      Maintaining the balance between the towns
      Having to learn new things
      What we may not anticipate? We can't plan for what we don't know
      Will the directors be able to facilitate our working together?
      Answering questions from the public and educating them to the pros and cons of the joint library
      Contrary discussion on two sites
      May not provide the educational focus needed to convince people - use TV 34, local newspapers
      People may not think it is necessary
      What is there for the public in all of this?
      How can we factor the Board of Education into the discussion in a way that benefits the libraries
      Guinea pigs
      Duplicated items in the existing collections will require weeding
      Adjustment period
      Who will be in charge?
      Civil service, seniority and job security
      Rivalry between libraries
      Loss of identity in each town

Creating a Perfect Library

      Fish, wildlife -something for the kids to pet and see
      Small group study rooms
      Private computer rooms
      Sound separation from kids and adults
      Café /food service
      Staff lounge, restrooms, vending area and kitchenette
      Big meeting room/auditorium with separate entrance for after -hours use
      Courtyard or reading garden with wi-fi access
      Media room with surround sound - a place where people can watch/listen to all types of media
      Lower shelves but not too low
      Larger magazine area
      IT support staff
      More storage space
      Movie section
      YA area that is soundproof but visible
      Local history area
      Space for passport processing
      All varieties of online resources
      Architecturally cutting edge - a building that stands out
      Great air - windows and modern HVAC
      Comfortable seating area for the public
      Escalator or elevator access
      Stand up terminal for email
      Quiet zones to accommodate older adults
      Home away from home feeling
      Copiers fax, business support
      More private staff work space
      Craft room for kids/story room
      Improved software for the circ desk
      ADA compliant
      Soft good modern lighting
      Central entrance and good security
      Attention to overall ambience and environment

What are people doing in the new library?

      Looking at what just came back/ shopping for the recent reads
      Interacting and meeting
      Listening to music and watching a movie
      Using wi-fi and cell phones
      Create a boundary around the check out and self check out area
      May need security
      Tutors are working with children in study rooms
      People are working with tax advisors
      Literacy classed
      Browsing in DVDs and videos
      Teachers tell staff about projects and there is a place to display the materials
      Book clubs are meeting
      People are playing games
      People are congregating and doing different things at the same time
      New books are on the shelves as soon as they are released
      Moms and dads are changing their babies
      The maintenance guy is emptying the trash
      There are programs of all types going on - poetry, movies, art exhibits
      There is a catering kitchen for kids and programs
      People are listening to music like in Barnes and Noble
      People are sitting in comfy chairs

What do you like about the current libraries?

      Collections have a good variety of materials
      Homelike feeling
      You can see everyone who comes in and have a sense of what is going on
      The ability to make decisions on the spot and empowered staff
      Separate children's area
      Story pit at SP
      Wildlife at Fanwood
      The ability to get to know patrons

What do you dislike?

      Don't like the overcrowding
      Restrooms that are poorly located
      No open windows
      Lack of a staff bathroom
      Disorganized collections
      Book drop noise
      Overloaded with passports
      Lack of cross training

How could we improve the workflow?

      Provide a separate staff entrance
      Staff parking
      Consider the proximity of the circ desk to the front door
      Reference desk should be more open and less fortress like, need a reference office
      Children's desk should be low and accessible and also proximate to the office
      Encourage a level of gray area between departments - create more of a team environment so everyone can pay attention to customer needs
      Enough copies of popular books and movies
      Streamline the bill paying
      Create a sense of personal space at the service desks
      Provide space for a DVD and CD player in the tech area to preview items and eliminate mix-ups
      Ergonomic chairs for staff and public
      Floor cushioning
      Ergonomic keyboards
      Defined and designated areas for returns

If you could change three things about the libraries what would you do?

      Improve air quality
      Create a computer training area
      Create a YA area
      Provide staff bathrooms
      Create the same sense of responsibility and respect for work
      Prevent flooding

How can we best communicate with you about this project?

      Periodic newsletter
      In-person and email
      Written information for the public
      Staff to take responsibility to communicate information back to Meg and Dan
      Information to staff about the focus group outcomes

We welcome the opportunity to discuss our project with you.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to
CONTACT us at any time: