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Review: Community Conversations 2021

Recap of public discussions hosted at MCPL in September to learn more about how the library can support the community.

Last month, the Mary Cotton Public Library hosted a three-part conversation series titled Community Conversations. The goal of this event was to understand the role of the library within the community and to hear how the library could improve its services. This conversation series was made possible through the American Library Association’s Libraries Transforming Communities grant. Conversations were held on Sept 18th, 20th, and 22nd at the MCPL Meeting Room. There were a total of three participants in the conversations; two on Sept.18th, and one on Sept. 20th. There were no participants for the scheduled 22nd conversation.

Though the number of participants was small, the conversations were productive and insightful. All three of the participants were or had been involved with homeschool education. As a result, one area they saw the library could improve upon was partnering with the various homeschool groups within the community. Many homeschool families utilize the library, and the inter-library loan service, to access the books needed for their curriculum. By incorporating popular titles that are used across homeschool groups into the current library collection, these books could be made more easily accessible.

Several other points were made to the issue of the library’s current selection. One participant felt that the library, while having an excellent elementary-aged nonfiction collection, was lacking the same variety of nonfiction titles for readers of a higher reading level. The suggestion was also made to complete many of the current book series held at the library. In the participants’ experience, books' series make it easier to keep young readers engaged with reading. Other participants mentioned how homeschool curriculums often utilize classic literature. They suggested that the library should update its current classic selection to include more engaging book covers as well as investing in more classic titles. The concept of book suggestions was also brought up as a way to learn of new books and connect with other local readers. One participant wanted to see more book displays throughout the Youth and Adult libraries, and likewise sharing to social media the new books or special collections that are being featured at the library. There was also the suggestion to include a column in the local newspaper that would highlight new books, activities, programs, or general information that is pertinent at the library.

The topics and themes discussed at these Community Conversations provided the library with important insight on how to move forward. As a public institution that seeks to serve the local community, MCPL appreciated the perspectives shared at these conversations. In moving forward from here, it is the library's goal to recognize tangible steps and approaches that we can take to meet the suggestions of these involved participants.

As always, we welcome feedback any time from our local community! Stop and see us or drop us an email at:

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