The Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) System serves 468,387 residents and 32 public libraries in Onondaga County. System services are housed at the Robert P. Kinchen Central Library which, along with eight city branches and two city satellite locations, is administered by OCPL. The 21 suburban libraries are independent members of the system.
One of our most visible roles is support for traditional and non-traditional programming. We foster system-wide collaborations, administer grant funds for educational and cultural programs, and take the lead in new programming initiatives. Over the past year residents of all ages have enjoyed opportunities to participate in, or just enjoy, such programs as the international Cardboard Challenge, a Jazz on Demand series, an innovative teen Summer Reading Program, and CNY Reads One Book, the largest and longest running community reading program in New York State.
We’re also known for special collections and services that benefit individuals and organizations. The Central Library’s STAR Center offers materials and services for people with disabilities, while the highly-respected Local History and Genealogy Department is used by researchers from all over the world. We’re excited that last year OCPL and FamilySearch began a project to digitally preserve 40,000 historic titles from the library’s collections and make them accessible online. And job seekers, grant seekers, and non-profit organizations find specialized help at our Job and Non Profit Resource Centers.
Building on this solid foundation, we are now adopting a new model of service to help our community become more resilient to the rapid changes we’re seeing in the 21st century. As part of an international movement to assess community needs on an ongoing basis and align programs with those changing needs, we’re transforming our libraries into centers for education, creation, collaboration and innovation.
A planned renovation of the Central Library is anticipated to include updated children’s services and spaces for early literacy, school preparedness, learning retention, and STEM education. To support lifelong learning, we intend to incorporate new technology, meeting spaces, enhanced adult literacy and job preparedness centers, and increased access to our special collections. Projects at city branches will create these same types of spaces in many neighborhoods.
An initiative we’re especially excited about is a technology lending library. The collection of traveling mobile carts will efficiently and economically provide all patrons with opportunities to experience new technologies such as 3D printers and LEGO® Robotics. Finally, we’re responding to the increased use of our digital collections by giving our “Virtual Branch” a makeover that will result in a system Web site that’s easier to navigate and to download digital content.
As a system, we’re very optimistic about our future. We see increased use of current resources and growing demand for 21st century resources and tools. As we move away from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy, we are committed to providing unique programs, spaces, and services that will prepare county residents for our rapidly changing future.