march 8, 2017

A meeting of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners was advertised for a special session to discuss a long-range strategic plan for Lake County libraries on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Cooper Memorial Library, 2525 Oakley Seaver Drive, Clermont, Florida.  Present were:  Ron Moore, Interim Library Services Division Manager, and Angela Harrold, Deputy Clerk.

Mr. Ron Moore, Interim Library Services Division Manager, welcomed the residents to the meeting and explained that the library system was creating their five-year, long-range strategic plan since the current plan elapses this year. He stated that the resident’s input was part of the process to ensure that the plan would be beneficial to the residents.

Mr. Dick Waters, a consultant working on the new five-year strategic plan for the Lake County library system, mentioned that he and Mr. Sam Morrison, another consultant, had worked extensively throughout the State of Florida as well as throughout the country.  He explained that they were in a community engagement phase of the process in creating the long-range plan and they had gathered a lot of information and statistical data. He asked several questions to gauge where the residents lived and which of the Lake County libraries they frequented. He wondered what the residents’ opinions were on what the Lake County Library System is doing well.

The residents stated that things that they enjoyed about the library system were STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities for students, genealogy services that were offered at the Cooper Memorial Library, the children’s section, the helpful staff, and the programs and classes that are offered, specifically English language learning classes.

Mr. Waters surveyed whether the residents were native to Lake County or moved from elsewhere.  He asked them to compare the libraries where they were from to the Lake County libraries.

The residents noted that the Lake County libraries had fewer hours and it was suggested that the libraries be closed Sunday and Monday and open the rest of the week. They felt that Cooper Memorial should be open seven days a week because it was next to the Lake-Sumter State College. They stated that not having the library open seven days a week was a hardship for students and area residents, because it is difficult for people who work full time to make it there before it closes, as well as for the groups that meet at the library. They all agreed that adding Sunday hours could be beneficial for working families.

Mr. Waters asked if there was college staff that worked in the library and if so what sections did they work in.

Mr. Boyd Bruce, Regional Branch Manager, responded that the students worked primarily on the second floor in the reference section.

Mr. Morrison relayed that there were several cities that had formed partnerships between the local colleges and the libraries to facilitate later library hours that the students could utilize.

Mr. Waters asked how the Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the Cooper Memorial Library was working.

Mr. Boyd responded that the agreement worked well and that the funds go toward staff and facility maintenance.

Mr. Waters stated that the number one complaint most people have about libraries are the hours, whether they be too short or too inconsistent. He noted that he had spoken to people who stopped going to the library because of the inconsistent hours. 

A resident wondered why the Cooper Memorial Library and other libraries were not funded more due to the connection between Lake-Sumter State College and the University of Central Florida. She stated that due to evening classes it would be beneficial to have later library hours for students and families as well. She asked if it was possible to have more college students working at the library to extend the hours.

Mr. Waters wondered if that could be a part of the agreement and asked if the agreement is reviewed periodically.

It was stated that the agreement was currently under negotiation. There was further discussion about the roles of the libraries in conjunction with the area colleges.

Mr. Waters asked what the residents thought of the children’s programs offered by the library.

The residents stated that the children’s programs were very good, specifically the summer reading programs and daytime preschool programs.

Mr. Waters determined that many of the residents in attendance used their home computers to see what books the libraries had available and to place holds on the books they would like to read. He clarified that all of the library cards were the same and could be used at all Lake County libraries. He asked the residents what other things would they like or not like to see happening within the library system.

Mr. Boyd pointed out that there was a pre-fix on the number of the library card that allows the system to know which library the card was issued from and that also determines the redistribution of the funds.

            The residents stated that they would like to see more information given to the public about where the libraries are located and general information; they would like to make sure books are still available even though things were going more electronic; they would like the Cooper Memorial Library to seem cozier than it currently did; they would like a better selection with more quantity of the newer books, and suggested a renting program for the newer books to cope with the long waiting lists.

            A resident suggested reading the electronic versions for handheld tablets of the newer books as an option to waiting for the book. He also stated that while there were several programs for younger children and early teens, there were very few for older teenagers and suggested that could be reviewed to offer them library services.

Mr. Waters pointed out that peer research had been done that showed that teens read more books than adults.

The residents suggested that the library go back to being able to borrow books outside of the county library system, which they used to be able to do but no longer could.  They also suggested having more meeting spaces within the library for groups and to be able to utilize more outdoor space as meeting areas.

            Mr. Waters brought everyone’s attention to the handout that was provided to them, which was a priority-setting exercise listing eleven services.  He requested that the participants list their priorities for either the Cooper Memorial Library or the library system as a whole by numbering five services they think are the most important starting with a “1” for the most important to a “5.” He then asked them to mark an “X” next to two of the seven items that are left to delineate that they do not believe the library should spend any time or money trying to deliver those two services. He mentioned that they are asking every group they meet to do this, and this would give them a good indication of the priorities of the community.  He concluded that those who participated will be contacted by the library when the consultants come back to present the draft report and a PowerPoint presentation.  He thanked everyone for their time and assistance.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:38 p.m.



timothy i. sullivan, chairman