Patrons of the Highland Park Harvey R. “Bum” Bright Library could soon find it open in the evenings and during holiday weekends.
That’s one of the early action items in a master plan that has been in the works for nearly a year.
(ABOVE: Librarian Kortney Nelson speaks to residents during a town hall meeting on the library master plan. Courtesy Taylor Crisler & Lance Koppa)
At the heart of the plan is the library’s mission as a center for lifelong learning, a role that’s difficult to fulfill when it closes soon after students get out of school and adults get off work, Mayor Margo Goodwin noted.
Library hours now are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but it typically is closed on Saturdays that fall during three-day weekends.
Because of recent retirements on the library staff, the town can afford to adjust schedules and add the manpower needed to extend hours without a budget increase, librarian Kortney Nelson said.
In the fall of 2017, the town hired The Ivy Group to help develop a master plan. The process included meetings and a survey to get residents’ input, conversations with other libraries, a trip to Colorado, and an evaluation of the town’s existing library resources and services.
The plan sets long-range goals as well as first steps to pursue during the next three years. Among those first steps are an improved website, expanded programs for students and adults, and moving away from the traditional Dewey Decimal system layout to more of a bookstore model.
“I don’t know,” Mayor Pro Tem John McKnight said. “I’m really kind of a Dewey Decimal man myself.”
Nelson explained that changes wouldn’t involve removing Dewey Decimal numbers and labels from the books. Instead, signage would change to help visitors used to shopping bookstores find the resources they are seeking.
It’s about creating “an easier way to browse,” she said.
Mayor Margo Goodwin agreed. “That’s how all of us have been trained. We have been trained in the Barnes and Nobel way of finding it.”
Nelson said she also envisions closer partnerships with Highland Park ISD librarians and SMU.
Extended hours will provide opportunities to expand programming beyond the library’s footprint into other town hall spaces, which are not in use after hours, she said.
Library staff also will focus more on promoting services, she said. “We feel if people don’t know what you offer, they aren’t going to know to use it.”