MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Public Library Board of Trustees met with consultants Alan and Leslie Burger of Library Development Solutions March 5 to further develop the library’s three-year strategic plan, which has been in the works for about eight months.

Library administration had conducted a questionnaire and three focus groups with residents, and the board held a retreat to brainstorm ideas, which resulted in the draft of the plan.

The board decided on the vision statement: The Montville Township Public Library is the place to grow.

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But could not fully agree on a mission statement. Their draft statement was: The Montville Township Public Library connects residents of all ages with opportunities for growth and success through exceptional spaces, technology and resources.

But this will change as the board and consultants discuss the statement more.

Goals and Objectives

After discussing the vision and mission statements, the Burgers discussed the goals and objectives with the board. Alan Burger said the building is the top priority, with large and small changes that can be made to achieve the various goals, which will change over the course of the three-year plan.

Board President Thomas E. Mazzaccaro Jr. agreed and said, “We don’t have to break the bank to [make the changes].”

But the innovation needs to be major, Leslie Burger said.

“Things are changing quickly,” she said. “We no longer have the luxury of talking about [a plan] for five years. Libraries are about people looking for space to work, and less about books. The thing this library is short on most is seating space. The children’s room really needs some attention. The changes are not high cost. Also, we need to remove book stacks.”

Library Director Allan Kleiman said he often visits libraries when traveling and compared the Montville Library to a book warehouse. He said the Montville Library could tackle small projects over the years, space by space, such as paint and new furniture, staying within its budget. Mazzaccaro was further encouraged by the idea of change, since the architect of the building made the outside walls weight-bearing while the interior of the building is mostly open space, allowing for a great deal of flexibility for the configuration of the library and its use.

Another goal was to refresh the collection, rather than retaining books that have been sitting on a shelf for 10 years, Kleiman said. He said the reference collection needs to be rethought since there are books that have not been requested in two years, and patrons’ use of reference is different now. Leslie Burger agreed and said, “there is no print reference.”

“But at what point does the library stop being a library and become a community center?” posed Board Vice President Robert Lefkowitz.

Mazzaccaro agreed that he was wrestling with the same point.

“That becomes a big question for me,” he said. “If we don’t have certain things what defines us as a library?”

Leslie Burger said, “It speaks to the question of change – libraries are about people and resources. The way we provide them is different. People are coming to borrow the book they’re going to read for their book group. Or they saw a book on the ‘Today Show’ or in a ‘New York Times’ book review. At the same time, kids are coming, and businessmen are coming to do research – but on a digital database. That information that you’re purchasing through subscription is so much more up-to-date and useful.”

Alan Burger said the library has always been a “popular” library and not a reference library, and the plan would not be to remove books just for the sake of removing them.

“What do you need more than anything else?” he asked. “You don’t have enough seating to do all kinds of things. That’s the number one thing people told us. Even a board member said he goes to a different library to work. How do we use the space we have today to be most responsive to [residents’] needs? One way is to make sure the collection is meeting needs. The library is a place for people to learn, whether it’s through performance, computers, art, and people learn through all different resources. Not just through ‘analog methodology.’”

The board also went through a draft of its technology plan. Revisions to its website, improved social media outreach, and the addition of an app are planned, as well as the expansion of the email newsletter and the addition of PCs. More technology classes for patrons are planned, as well as technology training for staff.

The final draft of the two plans will be reviewed at their meeting on April 18 at 7 p.m.

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