Sara Dallas, Director – November 10, 2015

The Southern Adirondack Library System (SALS) was the first public library system to receive its charter from the New York State Education Department in June of 1958. The 34 public libraries in Hamilton, Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties cover 4,226 square miles and 353,366 residents. The size of the libraries’ service areas ranges from 114 to 57,329 people, with local library budgets ranging from $22,221 to over $5 million.The libraries are located in rural, suburban and urban settings, which can make providing appropriate system services challenging.

The SALS Board of Trustees understands that all libraries can provide exceptional library service – regardless of staffing, financial resources, or location. In the 2014 evaluation of SALS services, we learned 98.23% of the membership is satisfied with SALS services and 99.12% believe our services are both valuable and relevant. We also learned that our member libraries believe “SALS is most effective when it focuses its resources on meeting our library communities’ most important needs.” (2011-2016 Plan of Service)

Times have changed and we need to begin the next SALS Plan of Service. The Aspen Institute reports: “The time has come for a new vision of public libraries in the United States. Communities need public libraries—more people are visiting them and using their services, materials and programs than ever before—but communities’ needs continue to change.”  (Rising to the Challenge: Re- Envisioning Public Libraries)

The next planning process will focus on helping member libraries meet the changing needs within their communities. We will provide opportunities for all member library staff and trustees to talk to each other about the effects of the significant changes that have occurred since the 2011-2016 SALS Plan of Service was created.

The goals of the SALS Plan of Service project are:

  1. Discover how the rapidly changing external environment is affecting the services and programs offered by SALS member libraries.
  2. Identify the staff, collection, technology and facility resources that SALS member libraries will need to provide effective services to the communities they serve in the future.
  3. Identify the role that SALS can play in ensuring that member libraries have the resources they need.
  4. Develop a SALS Plan of Service 2017-2021 that reflects the priorities identified by SALS member library staff and trustees.

Throughout this process, (beginning January 2016, with completion slated for October 2016) we will communicate with and respond to our membership to develop a list of current, expanded, or new services that reflect their efforts to meet changing community needs and expectations. Finally, using focus group and forum results, we will identify current services that could be reduced or eliminated.