NEKLS Destination Libraries Grant Program

Destination Libraries serve as centers of discovery and communication — places where people gather and where information comes alive through personal interactions and collaboration. Destination Libraries take advantage of the fact that they are centrally located in their communities.

Destination Libraries accept a larger civic role, balancing their traditional needs and operations with outreach to the wider community. If the old model of the library was the quiet reading room, the new one is more like a public park. Destination Libraries succeed by being vibrant public places. The Destination Library takes a much more active role in community development.

Libraries are adapting to changes in society by thinking about their spaces differently. Libraries are moving from managing book collections to managing community spaces. Innovative use of space is a hallmark of the Destination Library.

In addition, libraries are uniquely positioned to shape the use of digital collections in the community. An enormous amount of digital information is available, as is the capability to create original content. Organizing, preserving and making this information accessible is a key mission for Destination Libraries.

Four public libraries — Atchison Public Library, Basehor Community Library, Ottawa Library and Silver Lake Library — participated in the NEKLS Destination Libraries pilot in 2013-14. The NEKLS Destination Libraries grant program continues in 2014-15, with a third round anticipated for 2015-16.

Links to the PDF files for each of the grant proposals from the first round of grant funding:

The term of the current grant program is November 3, 2014 to September 4, 2015.

The NEKLS Destination Libraries Program has three phases:

Phase I: Data Collection and Community Analysis. (November 2014 – February 2015). The BusinessDecision tool by Civic Technologies will be employed to generate demographic and marketing reports for each community. During this phase, the director, along with no fewer than two board members, will be collecting data on their communities. Staff and other interested community members can participate, but the director and the board bear primary responsibility for creating a data collection plan, generating the BusinessDecision reports, and using other tools to profile the community. The data collection and community analysis phase may also entail personal interviews, telephone and web surveys, focus groups, and meetings with elected officials, business owners, school superintendents, and civic leaders.

Participating libraries are also required to complete the online Digital Inclusion Survey by November 21, 2014. The survey will take the pulse of public library service in the areas of digital literacy, economic and workforce development, civic engagement, educational support, health information and public access to the internet. Program participants will be expected to review the 2013 Survey for their library as part of the data collection and analysis phase.

Libraries that participate in the survey will be able to interactively view their library in context with community-level data, including poverty and unemployment rates, household income, education levels, English proficiency and other population demographics. This will enable libraries to:

  • Identify community impacts of library public computer and internet access
  • Identify opportunities to improve public access technology services based on community needs and demographics
  • Demonstrate library contributions to community digital inclusion effort

Phase II: Data Interpretation and Formulation of Strategic Goals. (February 2015 – April 2015). The Board and Director will discuss ramifications of the data collection and analysis and will begin work on a data-driven set of goals and strategic priorities. The director and no fewer than two members of the library board will be responsible for formulating several strategic goals based on their interpretation of the data collected in Phase I.  Goals should lead to a written plan that focuses on the Destination Libraries concept.

Phase III: Project Development and Implementation.  (May 2015 – August 2015). This is the grant phase of the program. The Board and Director will formulate a Destination Library project based on their strategic priorities, and present a written proposal to NEKLS for funding. The director and library staff will bear primary responsibility for the implementation of the project, but the Board will continue to have oversight and continuous involvement in the project. The project timeline can be anywhere from one month to one year.  NEKLS will fund up to six project grants in this round. Libraries are encouraged to pursue their projects with or without full NEKLS funding.

Success factors for the Destination Libraries Project will include, but are not limited to:

1. Increased use of library and library resources as measured in door count, circulation, program attendance, website hits, and other objective statistical measures.

2. At least one new partnership with a community business or civic organization that connects people to the library as a resource.

3. Higher visibility in the community (based on press mentions, contacts, and anecdotal evidence)

4. Significant alterations of the library physical space to accommodate new strategic priorities. These changes may be accompanied by staffing, technology and workflow changes that support the new priorities.

5. Long-term feasibility and sustainability of the program goals, 2-3 years after the grant period.



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