People use libraries today very differently than they did even ten years ago.
For Bloomfield Township Public Library, it all started with the computer lab. With increased access to personal devices and changing tech needs, patrons were underutilizing this static area. The team quickly realized that numerous spaces were under-used, over-used, and misused, making this a larger undertaking than anticipated.
Focus groups and surveys were used to collect input from the community, staff, trustees, and government leaders to develop the project’s strategic goals:
Re-evaluate the functionality of various spaces and wayfinding tools
Increase awareness in areas for quiet, collaborative, and social activity
Improve furniture practicality, comfort, and flexibility
Enhance outdoor space for programming and individual use
Ultimately, provide an attractive, easy-to-use, and flexible facility and grounds that meet a variety of users’ needs
How to Strategically Manage Change
Facilitating successful change requires a look at each element, their impact on one another, and developing an approach that addresses potential resistance to the change.
Key components we integrated into our process were:
Staff Empowerment Because changes to the physical space can impact job roles, staff inclusion was a critical component for a successful renovation. Staff engaged in the process provided insightful input based on their observations and interactions with patrons in the space.
Change Champions Some staff members were designated as Change Champions to act as guides in planning and navigating the transformation process, collaborate and provide feedback, and model excitement for achieving the end goal.
Board Policy Support Leadership buy-in was crucial for overcoming logistical barriers, such as budget and necessary policy adjustments, to ensure the updated space supported staff to the fullest.
Community Communication Developing a communications plan provided a meaningful way to inform and include the board of directors, leadership team, staff, and community throughout the design process.
Living Laboratory The opportunity to experiment with ideas, implement changes, take feedback, modify, and proceed empowered the team to move forward confidently with the best solutions.
By bringing everyone together to work toward our common goal and communicating frequently in various ways to build trust and support, we developed solutions that enhance the library’s reputation as a community facility that effectively serves the needs of all users. And although patron engagement with the library will continue to change over time, this strategic approach to managing modernization efforts will serve as a roadmap for successfully navigating future transformations.