District Consultant Becky Heil with the State Library of Iowa listens to imput during a meeting Aug. 27 on the vision Martelle community members had.


In the first of two meetings in the span of a little less than a month, Martelle community members gathered in the fire department to discuss a future visioning plan for their library.

Coming up with a plan is part of the process that needs to be completed every few years so libraries can earn accreditation from the state and be eligible for state funding.

District Consultant Becky Heil with the State Library of Iowa met with the library board a few months back to consider what they wanted their plan to address. Some of the items that were brought up were: understanding the community’s needs, find out what the public wants, provide community connections, hear from new families and a plan for growth.

Heil encouraged people to throw out anything that came to their mind for discussion and gave the example that one community wanted a shoe store and used that want to develop workshops to teach people how to shop online.

Before beginning the brainstorming process, Heil made a point of saying the recommendations wouldn’t be gathering dust in a desk drawer somewhere.

“I want to assure you that one of the things I like about this process is that is not going to happen,” Heil said. “By the time we’re done with this, we will have very specific objectives.”

In order to achieve that, community members went through strengths, needs and goals of the community. The first exercise was going through what they hoped to see in the town 10 years in the future. Some ideas that were floated included places to eat, gather, like a playground or community center, and activities for kids.

Similarly, the group then went through needs they saw for the community, like a little library or pantry, ways to meet other parents and handicap accessibility and strengths of the community, like available building space and the supportiveness of the community and elected officials.

The group ended their brainstorming session with ways to accomplish these things, which included ideas like better communication about services and activities, taking opportunities for development and coming up with a long-term plan.

In a few weeks time, when the community reconvenes later this month, the focus will shift to assessing the role the library can have in addressing the needs that were brought up in this meeting.

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