Library to implement new strategic plan

The Hinsdale Public Library Board approved a new strategic plan Tuesday that will guide its efforts over the next three years.

“We’re not like the village, which is looking at 30-year projections for capital projects,” said Karen Keefe, the library’s executive director. “A lot of what we’re doing is more operational. We don’t want to be implementing ideas that are five years old.”

The board began working on the plan in the spring, hiring The Ivy Group for $60,000 to facilitate. As part of the process, the consultants provided important information about how the village’s demographics have changed over the last 10 years.

“This is the most expansive look at the community that we’ve done since I’ve been on the board, and I’ve been on the board a while,” said board President Julie Liesse.

Among the more notable findings are that 18 percent of households speak a language other than English, the number of residents who identify as having Asian roots has increased significantly and there are many families without children living in the community (65 percent).

“Some of the things about the community are not a surprise to any of us,” Liesse said. “You look around Hinsdale and it’s a more diverse community than when I moved in.”

The plan has four areas of focus: access and convenience, education and enrichment, connection and community, and awareness. Keefe said users’ need for connection was clear.

“That’s something that really came out from the stakeholder interviews,” she said. “We are still emerging from this time of isolation. People really are looking for ways to meet each other, to connect.”

Being able to connect on topics that are not controversial is important, Keefe believes.

“Finding and celebrating what you have in common with your neighbors is a good spot for us,” she said. “We love matchmaking. We love putting interests together with people and the right presenter and what books do we have and what else can we do.”

Making sure residents are aware of what the library has to offer is an ongoing challenge, she and Liesse said.

“We always want to reach more people,” Liesse said. “We want to reach people who aren’t our regular patrons.”

One priority that emerged from the plan is the need to reduce hold times.

“We are going to realign the budget so we can purchase more options of titles when they are popular,” Keefe said. “People don’t want the best-seller they were interested in three months ago. They want the one everyone is reading now.”

The plan provides a list of other areas to which resources will be allocated to help achieve the objectives.

Prior to creating the plan, consultants provided a market segmentation study, a benchmarking study comparing HPL to four peers across the country and an online community survey that garnered 467 responses. Library leaders and trustees also interviewed 33 individuals from a cross section of the community.

Keefe said the conversations were fascinating.

“It’s kind of like the blind man and the elephant,” she said. “Every person’s perspective of Hinsdale is very different.”

Liesse agreed.

“I think they gave us a real broad perspective on how community leadership views us, but also a street level view from a lot of important constituencies,” she said.

Those who participated in interviews and completed the survey did have one message in common, Liesse noted.

“It’s clear people love the library,” she said. “That is one of the most encouraging things.”

Liesse thanked everyone who participated, from board and staff members to residents and community leaders.

“We couldn’t get that kind of depth of qualitative and quantitative analysis without their help,” she said. “I really appreciate it.”

She is looking forward to implementing the plan.

“I think our staff is really pumped up, not only about the findings, but the opportunities it opens up. I think will be an interesting few years executing this plan.”

The plan will be posted on the library’s website at

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean