Learning how to create magic for all

For seven years and counting, we’ve offered a program that fills up without much promotion. While the library does our best to accommodate as many folks as possible, this year the program has a waitlist in the dozens.

The Polar Express is popular for good reason: it’s fun and festive; children ride a trolley and listen to a timeless winter story; families sing songs, make crafts, drink hot chocolate, receive a book/gift and even meet Santa! It’s magical from start to finish.

We run multiple trolley rounds (three in English and one en Español). After seeing the flurry of sign-ups when registration quietly opened, we explored adding more rounds with our wonderful partners. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to accomplish that in the time available this year.

On the whole, we’re reflecting on how to make services like this accessible to all, not just to a lucky few. For example, Makerspace/tech classes have been filling up too, so we’ve added more sessions. Also true for Free Legal Clinics. But sometimes we’re unable to accommodate every interested patron. This is a great problem for a local library – it means we’re meeting the demand of some in the community – but to us, success means we find room for all.

So, how do we do that? How do we focus our services to fit the needs and wants of our community?

We are very close to finishing our Community Needs Assessment (CNA). If you’ll remember from previous columns, the CNA is a multi-faceted, community-wide survey that gathers opinions, assumptions, needs, key issues, and assets of the Estes Valley, so that the Library can increase our value to you, the taxpayer. This input was critical to gather before we develop a new Strategic Plan in 2023.

The results of the CNA are still being professionally collated, so we’ll be ready to share full conclusions with you later this season. For now, we can say: We hear you. We are listening, learning, and retooling our services to be more relevant and available for all.

What’s more, we’d like to make the Library an essential part of your regular routine. From collections to programs, from gathering spaces to civic resources, we aim to fill the literacy, curiosity, and community needs of this Valley.

In the meantime, surveys like the CNA aren’t the only method of sharing feedback. Board meetings are open to the public. Trustees can also be reached at trustees@estesvalleylibrary.org, and you’re always welcome to reach out to me (cperrault@estesvalleylibrary.org or 970-586-8116, ext. 811). We’d love to hear from you and know how we can better serve, support, and delight. As for next year, we’re clear on one thing: more Polar Express!

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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