RYE, N.Y. – Individual desires for library services, programs and qualities are being gauged as the Rye Free Reading Room plans for the next five years.
“At some point in the last year, probably someone has said, ‘We’re the library for the 16,000 people who live here in Rye.' If we’re going to be successful, we’ll be the library for each one of the 16,000 people who live here,” said Alan Kirk Gray, chief administrative officer for the Darien Library who is serving as a consultant for the Rye Free Reading Room during its planning process.
The library’s Strategic Planning Committee wants to develop a plan to maximize resources to address the needs and interests of every member of the community over the next five years. The strategizing process will be completed by early next year.
A sparse crowd turned out Wednesday night for the first of three public hearings. Gray drew suggestions from the attendees on improvements they might like to see made but stressed the importance of hearing more voices. “We’re looking for ideas, people’s dreams, people’s thoughts that could be completely off the wall because that’s how new things get done,” he said.
Gray suggested a number of methods that have worked in his own library, including automated self-checkouts, circulating iPads preprogrammed with applications for kids and offering accumulated copies of old bestsellers for book clubs to use.
“In Darien, we have a formal relationship with 113 book groups … because those 113 book groups represent more than 1,000 people, we are able to serve the exact needs of 1,000 people in some way,” he said.
Lisa Simon, a Rye Brook resident who holds accounts at several libraries in the area, said she is most interested in having speedy access to new titles. “In Greenwich, I can get whatever I want in a day. It’s a much longer wait here,” she said.
William Langham, a Rye resident, said the library's hours do not match his schedule. In response, Gray suggested a home delivery service in which a user could create a queue of 200 books and whenever books were returned, another bag of books off that queue would be delivered.
Additional public hearings will be held the library, at 1061 Boston Post Road, Rye, on Sept. 25 and Oct. 13. A questionnaire will also circulate online and in hard copy so the library can hear from as many people as possible.