The Lexington Library Co. first opened its doors in 1795. The subscription library raised $500 to buy 400 books, which were shelved in a room at Transylvania Seminary. Today, those first subscriptions have grown into a system of six library locations housing more than 560,000 items, including books, e-books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, movies, and music.
In its earliest days, the local library’s main concern was a scarcity of information. Today, the Lexington Public Library is at the heart of a knowledge-based economy sometimes overwhelmed with information. Print and digital literacy, innovation and creativity, and communication and collaboration have become keys to our community’s success. Educational, economic, and even social opportunities depend on these skills. This is a time of challenge for communities facing divides in wealth, education, and digital inclusion, which means it is also a time of opportunity for public libraries. Libraries enjoy a unique status as trusted community resources and welcoming places for learning, playing, and creating.
In order to plan meaningful and relevant library collections and services, it is first necessary to have an in-depth understanding of the community. The Lexington Public Library conducted a year-long demographic and library-usage study to better understand the neighborhoods served by our libraries, cross-checking information with data from Commerce Lexington. The study reveals a city booming in all directions, growing in diversity and proportion of non-native English speakers, and facing economic disparity as both upper and lower income households increase while the middle declines.
Over the past year, we conducted interviews with 52 elected officials and community leaders to ask what issues and trends they feel are most important. We conducted an online staff survey and held a daylong retreat for our staff and board members. We held three board member focus groups, and conducted 13 focus groups for customers as well as an online survey that garnered more than 630 responses. From all these, information was gathered and analyzed to determine the top current and projected needs for our community and how the Library can best respond to those needs.
Six overarching themes emerged: Education, Access, Inclusion, Space, Culture, and Stewardship. These themes will become our strategic goals for the next five years. Strategic initiatives that support each goal will help guide our library services and collections.
With more than 220 years of service to the community, the Library has a strong tradition on which to draw. The new Strategic Plan will guide the Library’s effort to use its resources for the maximum benefit to the community, extending a tradition of service well into the future.
- Create a foundation for educational success by engaging with children, teens, families, and schools.
- Advance digital literacy and engage users at all levels of technology proficiency.
- Be Lexington’s source for high-quality free instruction and programs to support personal growth.
- Help jobseekers and entrepreneurs develop a foundation of skills.
- Encourage Lexington’s citizens to be civically engaged and informed.
- Develop collections that reflect Lexington’s diverse cultures and interests and provide access via preferred formats and media.
- Make it easy to find, borrow, and return materials and resources online, in person, and across the city.
- Support and launch efforts to provide library collections and services in non-traditional settings.
- Explore ways to reduce barriers to library use.
- Provide events and displays celebrating our many cultures and art forms.
- Support Lexington’s rich artistic and creative communities by providing opportunities to showcase their work.
- Expand collections and classes related to local history.
- Encourage creativity and collaborative learning in our digital and non-digital spaces.
- Strengthen library accessibility and services for Lexington’s immigrant and refugee populations.
- Increase programming and services for teens and for older adults.
- Enhance services to at-risk juvenile and adult customers.
- Improve services to customers with physical and developmental disabilities.
- Offer flexible spaces that meet the evolving needs of our customers.
- Create environments that accommodate existing and emerging technologies and facilitate digital learning.
- Create library spaces designed to support innovative educational and cultural services and to contribute to the atmosphere of a vital Lexington.
- Plan for future library presences in underserved areas of our county.
- Actively engage staff, trustees, supporters, volunteers, and partner organizations in the Library’s mission and future growth.
- Create and strengthen alliances with government agencies and community groups to benefit Lexington citizens.
- Deepen and build relationships with existing and new funders.
- Increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency across the institution.
- Communicate and celebrate our successes.