One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s Fun principle and the accompanying outcome to “Connect people to popular books, music, films, and artwork – whether the materials are brand new or simply new to select audiences,” is through book discussion groups. Boston Public Library staff members facilitate 12 distinct book groups for adults across the BPL system. Some groups have themes – Hyde Park’s “Reading Around the World;” Parker Hill’s “books based on movies” – and some groups take turns choosing titles. Books include fiction, nonfiction, best-sellers and award-winners. The Central Library in Copley Square hosts a successful book group in Chinese. Attendance varies from intimate groups of 5 readers to the West Roxbury Branch group with 48 participants. It is wonderful to share books and reading via this core library service.
Category Archives: Outcomes
One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s Center of Knowledge principle and the accompanying outcome to “Expand adult literacy volunteer and mentor program,” is through the coordination of ESL Conversation Groups across the library system. There are currently 40 volunteer-led, drop-in conversation groups running weekly, giving immigrants and visitors the opportunity to practice speaking English and the chance to develop relationships and network with people who have similar goals and needs. These groups are in high demand and attract several hundred attendees per month. They represent one of the most successful, continually-running programs at the library. The BPL’s Conversation Groups program is also unique in the City of Boston as a whole, where many other agencies and organizations offer literacy programs.
In addition to the ESL Conversation Groups, the BPL also succeeds in reaching the strategic plan’s adult literacy outcome through the provision of the Small Group Mentoring Program. At present, there are 25 groups across the library system (no-more-than 5 students at a time) that meet with volunteer mentors to learn English. Free tutoring sessions like these, tailored to students’ specific needs, are vital to patrons citywide.
One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s User-Centered Institution principle and the accompanying outcome to “plan and initiate services in other languages — online and in print” is to provide to users Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese translations of our patron laptop-lending contract.
Borrowing laptops to use at our branch locations has become a tremendously popular service, and as a result of these translations, the BPL can invite even more participation from many of our non-English speaking/reading community members. Additional languages will be coming this fiscal year.
As part of the Children and Teens principle, one of the library’s outcomes is to focus on providing early learning experiences. The first strategy under that principle is to “enhance early literacy programs, such as reading readiness, including age-appropriate, multilingual collections.” Reading Readiness is an early literacy initiative started at the BPL in 1996. It teaches our youngest users important early learning concepts like colors, numbers, shapes, and textures within a fun and interactive environment. After many years, the program had lost its focus as each location offered a different type of early learning program.
Increase access to e-books and other digital content: streaming video, music, and audiobooks became available to BPL users in March 2014. The service proved immediately popular as evidenced by an approximately 20% increase in eCard registrations for several weeks after the announcement of the new service.
Implement new technologies: a new staff intranet was released in November 2013. The intranet uses the content management system Drupal as its framework and allows appropriate staff to publish content for the internal community to find, reference, and use without specialized coding skills. After a year of use by the staff, interviews, surveys, and analytics will be gathered to determine successes and failures of the project that will inform future projects, such as the redesign of public-facing web services.
Website redesign: A steering committee has been formed and a broader advisory committee will be convened, made up of representatives from many departments of the library to analyze, prioritize, and review the breadth of online properties that deliver BPL services. Deliverables include a project plan for the remainder of FY 2015 for redesign of bpl.org among other possible improvements to online properties.