Public libraries today are doing an enormous amount to meet 21st-century needs and to serve as community hubs. Leon County and the Leon County library system are analyzing opportunities to ensure the libraries continue to best serve our community.
Thanks to a grant from the North Florida Community Foundation / Knight Foundation fund, KCCI’s Executive Director was able to accompany Leon County’s team to tour award-winning libraries near Atlanta, Ga.
“We were inspired with how they have made their libraries much more than books,” said Betsy Couch, KCCI’s Executive Director. “They are offering community classes, tween programs, efficient check out systems, local gardens in the library that serve food-deserts, and many more community resources.”
During the site visit, Leon County and KCCI toured the Gwinnett County libraries. They didn’t just wake up one day with an award-winning library system, but the success has been the product of research and community engagement. Gwinnett County conducted an internal review that led to major shifts in the organizational cultural and the use of technology. For example, checkout counters were replaced with self-checkout kiosks and large help desks were removed to create more program space. Library staff were instead issued tablets to encourage them to engage and assist patrons throughout the facility.
Recognizing that their hours of operation limited who could use the library, an automated service called Open+ was installed to allow patrons to access the library after hours. This is something KCCI noticed many other library systems do as well domestically and internationally.
Other innovative programs and services include the installation of aeroponic tower gardens to help address food insecurity, the creation of a makerspace known as the Learning Lab, and partnerships with local museums, theaters, and parks to allow patrons to “checkout” passes and tickets.
Lots of inspiration came from the visit to the Gwinnett County Public Library. KCCI looks forward to seeing some of the ideas come to fruition here in Leon County.
If you have a great idea to share, please visit www.LeonCountyFL.gov/GetEngaged