CARRBORO- Carrboro Aldermen reviewed the first draft of the Orange County Library Strategic Plan last week, but they made it clear they weren’t impressed.
“I don’t see any point in any way rejecting what is stated here in this plan or this needs assessment, but that’s mostly because I don’t see anything at all in this needs assessment,” said Mayor Mark Chilton.
“It’s like a Hallmark card,” replied Alderwoman Jacquie Gist.
The aldermen were looking for concrete details that would aid in the planning of the Southern Branch Library. The county is currently working with the town to find a site near downtown Carrboro, and both boards are wrestling with questions about how big the branch should be and what services it should offer.
Instead, Carrboro board members said the draft plan offered only vague descriptions and obvious conclusions.
Chilton in particular took umbrage at the document, detailing his criticisms in a ten minute speech to the board. He said the plan lacked specificity and more importantly, did not seem to reflect the values that Carrboro holds dear.
“It sets off all sorts of alarm bells in my mind to hear people talk about doing data-mining and the use of big data with respect to my library usage in order to determine what kinds of services would be provided,” said Chilton. “I’m assuming that probably doesn’t mean what I’m afraid it means, but there’s something about the way the entire statement is made that makes me question did Dr. Chow get who we are as a community at all?”
The strategic plan was part of a state-sponsored initiative. When county commissioners reviewed the plan earlier in the month, they also called on library staff to return with more details.
Carrboro aldermen were asked to provide feedback on the plan, but Chilton and others agreed there was little of substance to respond to.
“We didn’t need to pay somebody- or the the state didn’t need to pick somebody on our behalf to pay to come to what are frankly the most obvious sorts of conclusions about our community. I’m really disappointed with this needs assessment because I just don’t think it means much of anything,” said Chilton. “And that’s sugar-coated.”
The board voted to receive the document, but refrained from officially commenting on it, beyond voicing opposition to any data-mining of library users.
The plan is still in its early stages. Orange County Library staffers will spend the summer fleshing out the strategic plan. It will return to the county commissioners for review later this fall.
You can read the full library report here.