If you search for images of focus groups chances are you’ll end up with a squillion and one featuring post-it notes. They are without doubt part of the consultants’ tool kit as witnessed by this photo of my desk after a recent trip to Central West New South Wales to work with the communities of Gulgong, Kandos, Mudgee and Rylstone (note the alphabetical order).
These towns are all home to a branch of Mid-Western Regional Council Library Service and I am excited to be working with the Library/Council and Community on developing the Library’s strategic direction.
As is my practice with any consultation I started with the people who know the organisation best, the staff. Over breakfast we unpicked a number of issues and explored options for the future. This was followed by four days of focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders including Library members, Council staff, partners and the wider community. Running parallel to this was an online survey. A wealth of feedback to process.
Regardless of the consultation method the message was the same, the community placed high value on the Library and the targeted services it provides. There were some great suggestions as to how we could make it even better. There were multiple thumbs up for the Library team and the inviting spaces that are available. As libraries face the uncertainty of a post COVID environment this was the ideal time to have this conversation.
I love this area of NSW,which I know well, and it was wonderful to have time to explore the picturesque towns and villages and marvel at the scenery and architecture. Each of the Library’s branches is located in a heritage building which has its own story to tell. Their bookmobile’s skin reflects the beauty of the region.
Time now to finish turning the post-its, butchers paper and spreadsheets into a coherent whole. Thank you to Michelle and the team at MWRCLS for making me so welcome.