Letter: Library focus group recap

To the Editor:
The Trumbull Library hosted a focus group on its future in an almost full meeting room on July 17. The session was led by Leslie and Alan Burger, library planning professionals whose recent assignments include working with many nearby communities.
They asked “What do you want this library to be like?” They listened to suggestions for the better part of one and one-half hours. From what they heard at this and many similar sessions they will produce a strategic plan for the community’s consideration.
Dr. Richard Resnick (“of art exhibit fame,” a line that drew applause) made a key point. “The wealth of a town is measured by the quality of its schools and its library, not the reverse … the library must be prominent and visible.” He added that the library “should be enlarged to meet new needs.”
That having been said, most comments went to tweaking the existing facility — “We need more parking,” “Keep the library where it is,” and “Add small conference rooms for tutoring and other activities that make the main spaces noisy.”
And more e-books, more art exhibits, more author talks, more programming, more technology and technology support, particularly for senior citizens.
A few recommended new directions: “More interaction with our school libraries,” and others commented on the quality of the One Book One Town program, for which a committee selects a book and schedules a series of events throughout the month March (the 2016 book will be All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr).
One asked for an “inductive loop” in the community room to help those with serious hearing loss enjoy programs.
Later in the evening one attendee said “We need a vision” — what will a library look like in 10 years? Working back, he said, we need to think of it as more than a repository for ink on paper, more than e-books and computer work stations. It must, among other things, attract and engage people of all ages in hands-on learning with emerging technologies such as a 3D printer like the one at the Fairchild Branch, as well as coding and robots.
Little else was said about new technology until Jenny McLaughlin, the library’s user technology guru, talked about the 3D printer, a robot arm and a rocket. She said they are well used by teenagers — and younger — and she invited everyone to visit the branch and engage with their technology.
Once the Burgers’ recommendations have been presented, digested, organized and costed out they will have to be matched with/against the two other projects currently under discussion: a much needed senior center and an often discussed community center.
The open question is will the new library simply be reconfigured to give us a few meeting rooms and new programming? Will it expand our current and dated building to afford, again, more of today’s offerings? Or might we gain a facility new from the ground up, a library of the future, reaching out to more of our community and bringing us back to what libraries were originally — community learning centers.
Roy Fuchs