Hello Sedona! I am excited and honored to be the new Director at Sedona Public Library. This is easily the highlight of my library career, and I feel humbled and privileged to lead such an important institution in such a beautiful city. Along with new Assistant Director Eric Petersen and a gifted and talented staff, I am here to meet and exceed your information, educational, and entertainment needs. More than that, we are all working hard to become an even stronger center of community connection. I hope that piques your curiosity!
As mentioned in last week’s column, we have big plans for the coming year. I’d like to share just a bit of what we’ve been working on, and what this means for our community.
As many of you know, we are finishing up a broad and successful Community Needs Assessment project that will drive our work on a new strategic plan. What exactly does that mean? Let me explain.
Last year, we applied for a Library Services & Technology Act grant through the Arizona State Library* for funding to hire a library consultant who could guide us through the process known as a “community needs assessment.” Excited to receive this grant, we began our work late last summer.
The goal of our assessment is to find out what’s on the minds of folks in our community—specifically, what they see as issues, and what their aspirations for our fair city are. We interviewed nearly 50 individuals: from government officials and staff to the leaders of Sedona’s nonprofits, from neighbors and friends to historians and writers. It was a marvelous experience to touch base with so many members of the community. Thank you for sharing your time!
Of course, in Sedona, we couldn’t have these conversations without asking for everyone’s “Sedona story.” Wow! While so many of us were motivated to move here by the landscape and incredible beauty, the variety of paths and journeys that led everyone to this town were fascinating. Oh, the stories you told…what amazing lives you have lived.
Most importantly, though, we learned what’s on people’s minds. Yes, Covid-19 is our immediate concern, but we also heard about traffic, tourism, and the problem of affordable housing. We learned about our residents’ deep sense of pride, loyalty, and love for Red Rock Country, and we learned that we are a community that cares deeply about sustainability—our climate, land, and water. While all is not perfect in this beautiful little town—there are many issues to be addressed—we sensed that everyone is passionate about becoming the best that we can be.
You might be wondering: how is this a project for the Library? That’s easy. Because the Library’s job is to engage and inform and enrich and inspire its community by addressing its needs and celebrating its dreams. As your new Library Director, my goals are all grounded in connection. Connecting people to people, questions to answers, volunteers to opportunities, organizations to partners—I believe that creating and strengthening these connections is how a community thrives.
What we didn’t ask is how the Library can help. Why not? Because that’s our job. We asked you to tell us what’s on your minds, and now we will do the work of addressing your concerns with our services, programs, collection, and more.
My first and most crucial task at Sedona Public Library is to work with our staff and Board of Trustees to write our new strategic plan. Once it’s finalized and approved by our Board of Trustees, we’ll present it to you, and I know you’ll be excited to see how your library will broaden and deepen its role as the heart of Sedona.
Again, thank you to everyone who participated in our Community Needs Assessment. Please stay tuned as we do the work and unveil a strong, exciting, and aspirational plan for a library that will continue to connect this community.
My door is always open. I want to personally connect with as many of you as I can, and I am so looking forward to conversations in a post-Covid world.
Please remember that we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and always welcome your support and your gifts. Visit sedonalibrary.org/donate to easily make an online gift, feel free to come by, or drop your check in the mail to 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.
*Library Services & Technology Act funding comes through the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records which is a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Sedona Public Library
Column for January 22, 2021
Written by Judy Poe, Library Director
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.