Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) has adopted a Community-Inspired Service Philosophy, which means the community’s needs helps direct the development of programs, services and collections at the library. Community-Inspired Library Service is the approach we take to ensure the community sees itself reflected in the library.
Our service philosophy guides us in creating the most value for residents by removing barriers to access and connecting more people to library resources. The philosophy also
recognizes the importance of connecting residents with library resources in various settings and environments – not just within library walls.
Guided by this service philosophy, we will seek to understand the needs of Saskatoon’s residents by building relationships with them and immersing ourselves in the community – work that is inspired by SPL’s vision of changing lives through community connections, engagement and inclusivity.
How We Identify Community Needs
Our Community-Inspired Service work relies on community participation to inform our decision-making. As such, gathering information and feedback is ongoing at SPL, with no beginning or end, and there are regular opportunities for residents of Saskatoon to help shape library services.
Sometimes we seek to understand needs by casting a wide net and gathering feedback from all community members. Other times we identify needs through consultation with partner organizations. There will also be times when we identify needs through informal conversations with library users, library best practices, statistics, trends and observations we make at specific locations or city-wide.
How We Meet Community Needs
The success of our service philosophy depends on effective planning, implementation and evaluation of our work.
Strategic Alignment & Resourcing
As we identify community needs, we assess if the needs align with our mandate and Strategic Plan. We are more likely to address needs and implement initiatives that fit our current goals and priorities. To ensure our work aligns with our service philosophy and Strategic Plan, we develop and resource annual work plans and supports for all SPL work units, teams and employees.
There are, naturally, always more community needs than SPL can meet given budgetary and workforce constraints. Therefore, deciding what to do and how to do it is an ongoing process. When identified needs are not within the library’s mandate, we share those findings with organizations that may better address them.
Implementation & Evaluation
Sometimes, we can respond quickly to meet a need. It may take longer when there are budget implications and we require additional resources and related supports. We may also test our response on a small scale at first – for example, through a pilot project at a single library, which is evaluated before moving forward with system-wide implementation. Evaluation is an ongoing process that helps us to improve and create community impact. Our evaluations consider quantitative and qualitative information.
We commit to regular public reporting on the outcomes of our work.