In October of 2018, the Chelmsford Library was excited to be one of three libraries to receive a Civic Engagement grant, a pilot project from the MA Board of Library Commissioners. Our REACT: Read, Engage and Come Together project focused on six key issues in America today, namely, Poverty and Food Insecurity; Racial Justice; The Environment and Climate Change; LGBTQ+ rights and equality; Public Education; Immigration and Refugees. Our programs and discussions on these topics provided a space for people to learn and engage in civil debate on issues often mired in misinformation, emotion and partisan politics. It was a lofty library project and it yielded great participation and enthusiasm from the community. It was also extremely beneficial to the staff and fundamentally changed the lens that we use to view the community.
The REACT grant spurred us into action, not to simply update our Strategic Plan but to re-invent it. We wanted to make it personal. We wanted to make sure that our planning conversation was a two-way street – sharing our library values with the community while gathering thoughts, opinions and advice from our library users. We expanded on one of the goals of the grant – ensuring that the library is a welcoming community space for congenial conversation and discussion of civic issues. We focused on continued outreach with the schools, town departments, community and civic groups, authors, and performers – to expand our programs and services, break down barriers, and create community both inside and outside the library walls. And we set as a goal that the community would recognize the library as “a bridge to exploration, engagement and enjoyment.” Our strategic initiatives spring from that community goal.
Some guiding highlights from the plan:
We are the community’s bridge to exploration, engagement and enjoyment.
Our Library will be the spark for discovery at the heart of Chelmsford. The Library will provide the support, resources, and environment for our patrons to:
- Explore – new ideas, new frontiers, new dreams
- Engage – with the written word, with each other, with the community, with the world
- Enjoy – learning new skills, vibrant programs, quiet reflection
Our shared values are what guide our library staff as we work with the community and with each other.
People Come First
We take time with you, listen to your thoughts and strive to fulfill your informational, recreational, and literary requests. We are welcoming, accepting, and compassionate. We value all members of our diverse community and are respectful of your ideas and opinions.
Open to New Ideas
Saying “we have always done it this way” isn’t reason enough to keep it that way. We aren’t satisfied with the status quo and we‘re always looking for ways to expand and improve service. We’re not afraid to try new things or to admit we made a mistake. We welcome innovation and love it when the community inspires us.
Need to Know
You have questions; we want to find the answers. We are seekers, guiding your discovery and satisfying your curiosity. We won’t rest until the mysteries are solved, the answers revealed, and you are content.
A Place at the Table
Everyone has a seat at the community table. Both inside and outside the library walls, we value our community partnerships, and work to build places where people and ideas can come together.
Something for Everyone
It is important to us that we level the playing field, equally serving people of all ages, incomes, ethnicities, genders or physical abilities while responding to our community’s varied interests. We offer a diversity of resources, services, and programs for everyone to explore and enjoy.
Passion for Reading
We all have a book on our nightstand; we love to read! From the latest bestsellers to hidden gems, our staff reads them all, in all formats, and we love sharing them with you. Our passion for the written (and spoken) word goes beyond the sheer joy of reading; it illuminates the necessity of literacy in a world of written information.
The Chelmsford Public Library plans to explore these strategic priorities:
Partnering with individuals and groups to develop the knowledge, skills, and shared opportunities to reach out and build a strong, vibrant civic network.
Fostering life skills such as reading, learning a language, using a computer, and other basic literacies to thrive in a modern society.
Assisting individuals and area businesses with resources to meet their economic, financial, and career goals.
Supporting the physical, mental, and emotional health of the community.
Exploring and celebrating our cultural complexities with diverse and inclusive collections and programming.
Creating, experiencing, and enjoying the arts, and encouraging individual curiosities and talents.