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Library releases new strategic plan

Proposed changes include increased lounge space, new classification system



Visitors to the Whistler Public Library can expect to see a few changes coming to the facility in the near future.

The library recently released its new strategic plan for 2018 to 2021. The document outlines the facility's commitment to "inspire wonder" with five main priorities: "play well with others," "make life better," "be an inspiration," "make an impact" and "be green."

"One of the things that this strategic plan acknowledges maybe differently than the previous strategic plan that we had is that we're responsible for the priorities laid out by the Whistler 2020 (planning document)," explained library director Elizabeth Tracy. "This speaks to our connection with Whistler 2020 while still retaining the unique identity of the library."

These priorities govern the library's goals for the coming years, including building partnerships, enhancing the resort experience, building community, ensuring economic viability, promoting environmental awareness and expanding adult outreach.

The new plan was developed based on the results of a "vision survey" the library conducted last spring. The survey garnered 485 responses from Whistler residents and visitors weighing in on library services and library experience.

That survey aimed to focus on space and technology, "what we felt were the two greatest assets that we offer the community right now and can offer in the future," said Tracy.

"We have a really good relationship with most of our library users, so people are pretty open with us about how they feel about things, but we really felt that this was an important step in doing our due diligence to really drill down what is was that's most important to people."

As the survey results showed, that was easily identified as more lounge space and more opportunity for quiet study or workspace.

"One of the challenges that we have with the library often being so busy, and just the kind of facility that it is, is that it's not always the quietest place," explained Tracy, adding that libraries have strayed from the traditionally silent stereotype in recent years.

Following the survey, the library also undertook a space-needs analysis with HCMI Architecture + Design, the architects that originally designed the library, to look at how the library could transform the space to better suit its users' needs.

Included in the list of desired changes will be an expanded "living room" area, a "Wonder Lab" for exploring new technologies, updated teen spaces, more private meeting spaces and designated areas for phone conversations. Those changes, though conservative, will be carried out in a phased approach and will largely depend on grants and funding, Tracy explained.

"People having more space to hang out and be comfortable and read will be a high-impact thing," she said.

As the library embarks upon the new plan, it's also wrapping up plans from the previous strategic document. In an effort to be a more inclusive, barrier-free facility, the library is creating universal bathroom access, and later this year, swapping out its current Dewey decimal classification system in favour of a new, word and topic-based classification system for adult non-fiction titles-similar to what you'd see in a bookstore.

Moving forward, the library is also looking into streamlining its printing processes, including, potentially, a cashless payment option like copy cards.