Library seeks deeper understanding of Heights community

This spring and summer, as part of its strategic planning process for 2016–17, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System will be gathering information from community members regardomg their aspirations for themselves and their community.

“Instead of asking people what they think of the library, we are instead asking them to focus on themselves: What are their hopes, dreams and goals? What kind of community do they want to live in?” explained Kim DeNero-Ackroyd, Heights Libraries deputy director, who is managing the strategic planning process. “We want to find out what our community wants—not from the library, but from their lives, their community. We’re looking for information that will give us a deeper, broader understanding of the people we serve.”

Heights Libraries will gather the data in a variety of ways. Some staff will attend public community meetings, including those of city councils and local civic organizations, to take notes on the concerns that residents raise. Other staff will conduct brief interviews with residents, local business owners, and those who work in our community; and hand out surveys at community events and library programs.

For those residents who don’t encounter a library staff member but want to share their feelings and ideas, the survey will be available on the library’s website, and in printed form at every branch. Once collected, library staff will analyze the information, looking for patterns and trends to help guide the next phase of the strategic plan.

“We’re anxious to see what common ideas bubble to the top when our community is asked to think broadly about what [residents] want, not just for themselves, but for their community,” said DeNero-Ackroyd. “Then we will determine how the library can best help our community with those aspirations—maybe with new programs and services, or by expanding our collections and outreach efforts.

“The first step,” she noted, “is to listen to our community.”

For more information about the library’s strategic plan process and information-gathering project, visit