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As a lifelong reader, I have always loved libraries. Nearly five years ago our firm was given the opportunity to apply our public policy analysis skills to the library sphere, by evaluating the State of North Carolina’s Regional Library system.

For this study, we conducted 25 analyses of the system’s financial health, operations, and contribution methodologies to determine whether the Regional Library structure was a feasible, sustainable long-term system for delivery of library services. We reviewed state statutes, library system operating agreements, bylaws, and organizational structures. Additionally, we interviewed and surveyed Regional Library administrators and state library officials. KDC also created a NC Regional Libraries Salary and Job Classification Analysis of 136 job descriptions into 31 position categories.

Our conclusions embraced the Regional Library model and included recommendations regarding ensuring its sustainability. What was most exciting about the study was seeing how expectations of libraries are in tremendous flux. While people still go to libraries for their favorite best-sellers, they are also interested in e-books, Makerspaces, and online databases. They see libraries as the new town square, our 21st century public meeting spaces.

Through this detailed analysis of all aspects of a public library system and in our other library work, we see an innovative future ahead for public and academic libraries. But we’ve also found that some, in the age of Google, question why we need libraries. Can’t you just find what you need online? For this reason, we spend significant energy quantifying and communicating the impact of libraries on communities, including within our public input process.

The project was an excellent foundation for our continued work with public and academic libraries, including developing Strategic Plans, Master Plans, Library Needs Assessments, or Comprehensive Development Plans. With technology shaping the delivery of library services as never before, libraries seek new ways to organize their collections, services, programming, and facilities. As their populations change, communities work with us to consider renovating existing facilities or creating new library branches. We have developed system consolidation studies for public library systems and a contribution formula for a seven-member library system serving diverse populations.

Working in such a dynamic and changing field, our library clients have told us that they appreciate our significant needs assessment, strategic planning, and organizational consulting services outside of the library sphere. We are thrilled to be a part of the future of library services.