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Friends of the Libraries: Why plan ahead for a library?

September 06, 2012|By Mary Ellen Goddard

I believe we are at a point where we must explain why libraries are more important than potholes.

If we don't, apparently there is no reason to plan for the library services we want to have available.

I can't blame this concept solely on our present City Council. We have had Orange County Public Library branches in Costa Mesa since 1923, long before the city was incorporated.

We should have had a master plan for Costa Mesa's libraries once the city was formed in 1953, but, of course, the city was busy with so many things, and we did have a library.

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In 1965, the Mesa Verde Library was built to serve the growing northern part of the city. In 1987, the old Costa Mesa Library building was replaced when it had structural problems. In 2000, the Technology Library was introduced in response to Arroyo Associates Inc.'s Library Services Needs and Delivery Study.

But even then, the council hadn't said, "This is the level of library service we want to have in our city and this is how we plan to get it."

It is time we, as a city, decide this matter and put it in writing. Or as the Unsinkable Molly Brown would have said, "Belly up to the bar, boys!"

A community needs assessment from the Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records lists these questions to explore when determining what library service a community should have:

1. How is the user community changing, such as socioeconomic status, demographics, employment trends and development plans?

2. Who does or does not use the library and why?

3. What additional services or programs might better meet the needs of segments of the community?

4. To what extent are the current library programs and services successful?

5. Are the physical facilities adequate for providing the types of library services needed by the citizens?

6. Which organizations and initiatives in the community would serve as good partners for library projects and programs?

7. What types of materials and information would best help the community as a whole reach its vision?

8. What are the community's expectations regarding the library for the future?

I would like to see Costa Mesa's master library plan do more than list what we need. It should define where that service would be and how we are going to get it.

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