A. Community Description
B. Library Description
C. Assessment of Needs 
D. Methodology
E. Goals and Objectives 
F. Action Plan for FY ’15


Incorporated in 1774, Leverett is a small rural community in southeastern Franklin County. The town is named for Sir John Leverett, a governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The town’s rich scenic beauty includes a two-mile road through a glacial ravine bordered by Brushy Mountain; the Sawmill River, which cascades over rocks in Moore’s Corner and flows into the North Leverett millpond; and Leverett Pond, in the town’s center, which affords fishing, canoeing, and ice skating. White church spires, an old sawmill, historic homes, meandering roads, and the Robert Frost Trail comfortably share space with the first peace pagoda built in the United States (a temple of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order), an adjacently located elementary school, a public works building, the Leverett Crafts and Arts Center, and the town library.

 Situated in the Five College area, Leverett is a neighbor to Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mt. Holyoke colleges as well as the University of Massachusetts. These academic institutions have drawn a culturally diverse population to Leverett. Residents range from professors, college staff, and graduate and undergraduate students to teachers, farmers, contractors, builders, artists, gardeners, and professionals in the area of medicine, law, and telecommunications.

Leverett has a population of approximately 1800 people, and a total area of 23 square miles. Much of the town is undeveloped and is home to bears, moose, and other wildlife. Upon finishing elementary school in Leverett, students attend regional public schools in Amherst. Town funding is solely dependent on the residential tax base.

 Many Leverett residents have no internet access at their homes, and some are limited to a dial up connection; this brings many people in to the library daily or weekly to use our computers or wireless service. However, by December of 2014 all residents of Leverett will have access to high speed internet in their homes through the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and Leverett’s Municipal Light and Power Company funds, the town approved spending 3.2 million for the final mile of broadband. The library computers and internet access will remain vital to those who do not have computers in their homes.  



 In 2013 the library celebrated its 10th anniversary in the ‘new’ building, and the space is as welcoming and appealing as ever. The library exceeds the legal requirements for handicap accessibility for a town of fewer than 2,000 residents. In accordance with ADA regulations we set up an assisted hearing system at all public events for patrons with hearing issues. The Friends of the Leverett Library are now investigating options for a hearing system that will be permanently installed and connected to the projector system. The building has 2 restrooms, a book drop and an audiovisual drop, a community room, a landscaped stone patio, and a lighted parking lot. The inside features comfortable armchairs, 6 public computers and 3 staff computers with a high-speed Internet connection, and a public copier. The library is a “mininet” member of C/W MARS, and patrons are taking full advantage of the borrowing privileges this allows. Long- time Director Linda Wentworth left for a new position elsewhere and Ashley Blais, a recent graduate from the Simmons Library program, has now held the position of director for almost two years.

 The library continues to partner with other local organizations, including the elementary school, Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (a land conservation group), Leverett Community Chorus, Leverett Crafts and Arts Center, the Historical Society and Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, among others. With the support of the Friends of the Library, we deliver library materials to several homebound individuals. Our volunteer pool is nearing 40 members ranging in ages from 12 to over 80. This level of support demonstrates our importance to the entire community.

 Our circulation numbers remain high and stable. In FY 2013 the Leverett Library was busier than all but two of the 68 Massachusetts towns with a population under 2,000, with a circulation count of 37,525 items checked out. And our interlibrary loan (ILL) figures continue to expand. In FY2014 our patrons borrowed almost 6,500 items from other libraries. The nearby elementary school borrows a huge number of items through ILL, as do our homeschooling families, commuters, and many others. Requests are generally filled quickly as we get MLS deliveries 3 times each week. The Leverett Library also fills a large number of ILL requests. In 2013 we sent out 5,029 items to other libraries- more than all but one library our size in the state.


We fill increasing numbers of requests from beyond C/W MARS, searching through networks across the state via the Virtual Catalogue and to libraries beyond the state’s networks via MLS’s ILL service. ILL policies have recently been amended to better serve smaller libraries. Initially, an item remained in the library where it was checked in until all the holds at that library were filled. This was a disadvantage for small libraries because a popular item would be sent to fill a hold at a larger library and there it would stay for months filling holds. To mitigate this C/W MARS established two new protocols. One, when an item is first put on the shelves the home library has the option to place a ‘local holds only’ restriction on the item for 2-6 weeks before it is eligible to fill holds at other libraries.  Two, a ‘holds go home’ protocol sends an item back to its home library after two months if there is a hold there. Issues and all, libraries benefit from membership in the consortium as the number of items available to patrons is expanded a thousand fold.

The number of items in the Leverett Library collection at of the end of FY2014 was 50,773. The large increase in holdings is partially due to the large increase in the digital collection made available through C/W MARS. As more patrons purchase e-readers, iPods, iPods, etc, the demand for these items has increased, and as a consortium we are working to meet that need. Also in response to this new demand, the Leverett Library has offered trainings on navigating the digital catalog and downloading materials onto ereaders and computers, and we will continue to offer this assistance as needed.  

Leverett Town Meeting continues to support the changing needs of the library. In 2013 the town purchased an assisted hearing system for the library, and in 2014 approved a significant budget increase for internet service as we transitioned to broadband for the library.

Internet access is a major draw to residents. Internet service is not yet readily available in Leverett, as mentioned, and so our public computers are very popular, used by an average of at least 50 people each week. In FY2013 we replaced the 2 aging computers in the adult room, and in FY2014 we replaced the ancient ‘catalog’ computer, which was upgraded to be another internet-ready public computer. Three Windows XP computers were updated to Windows 8, and we offered technology help sessions for those having problems transitioning to Windows 8 with their own or our computers. The library also offers wireless service for patrons who may log in on their own laptops both inside and outside the library building.

The trustees remain eager for the library to host a variety of programs for adults and children. Over the past year we hosted craft programs, animal visits, musical performances, talks, author visits and other activities, taking advantage whenever possible of our local talent pool. The town recreation program offers twice-weekly tai chi classes at the library, and are soon to start a new yoga program and arts programs free to Leverett residents to be held at the library.

In 2013 the library purchased a new projector with gift funds, this inspired the kick-off of a monthly Free Movie Night. The enthusiastic regulars choose an assortment of acclaimed movies, both current and classic. We also host Family Movie Sundays, which have also been popular. The Friends group purchased our first movie license last year and recently paid for a renewal, demonstrating the strong support for this community program. The Friends also supported our venture to launch a monthly Lego Club in 2013, by purchasing a huge supply of brick. Lego Club has been wildly popular with a regular group of boys and girls from the elementary school and a group of homeschooled children. For younger children we offer a weekly Story Hour. Over the summer our beloved story hour leader retired, but our new host brings her ukulele! This new musical element has been very popular with both children and adults, attracting a large and enthusiastic group every Wednesday morning. Story hour is funded by the School Union #28 Community Network for Children during the school year and by the Friends of the Library over the summer months.

 Every summer the library registers forty to fifty children in the Massachusetts Library Summer Reading program.  We kick-off our program with an outdoor party, the Leverett Elementary School rock band rocks out, we eat cake and we talk about the summer reading program. During the summer we offer several Summer Reading themed programs. This past summer in line with the Fizz Bang Read science theme, we had The Sciencetellers perform a program called Dragons and Dreams, which entailed lots of dry ice and squirting foam and was very fun. Also Teaching Creatures visited to talk about animal adaptations that had inspired technology. Our program raises money for a local animal shelter, with the Friends group and some families sponsoring children to read. At the end of the summer we have more food and award prizes.

 In October we launched a new S.T.E.A.M. program. This is an LSTA grant funded program that we received in partnership with three other local libraries.  Each library will offer 8 S.T.E.A.M. programs through the course of this school year. Our first program, Measuring Dinosaurs with host Helen Ann Sephton of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, went very well. Program number two, Magnificent Magnets, brought in the biggest group of preschoolers we’ve had for any program in several years. This grant also requires that each library develop maker-space kits in association with each program.

In early spring we hold “Read it Leverett!”our ‘one town one book’ program. With support from the Friends group and the local Cultural Council we are able to host a number of events centered on our book choice. Last year we held four different events, all very different and all of which were attended by at least 30 people. If the book allows, we will offer a children’s program element. For 2015 we have selected an art-themed book, and already have several fun and engaging program ideas, with so many artists in town, this should be a big hit.

The artist population in Leverett is large for a small town, a second compendium of Leverett artists, “Who We Are Now”, was published last year. The arts are important to this community and at the library we love to celebrate our local talent through art shows in the community room. We have taken full advantage of this thriving community by pulling in various artists to host workshops, such as drawing, calligraphy and Zentangle.  We hope to continue with such events by forging relations with the Leverett Craft and Art Center.

Outreach is vital to programming. At present we promote our events through the town’s quarterly newsletter, our website, the weekly elementary school newsletter and three local newspapers. We regularly update our outdoor event board and display upcoming event flyers in the library and around town. A listserv of patrons wishing to be informed of upcoming library events has been created and outreach to local schools through emails and flyers has begun.  We are also forming a new PR team to hatch new and creative means of publicity.



We sought to determine the needs of our community by means of a survey and a focus group. The survey was developed by the Strategic Planning Committee using results from our SOAR assessment and sample surveys from the MLS. Our survey was made up of 11 questions and could be completed in less than 10 minutes. For more in depth questions and discussion we held a focus group at the library with a small but diverse group of patrons and residents.

In the spring of 2014 we distributed the survey to every household in Leverett attached to the town newsletter. The survey was also available at the library, post office, town hall, and town coop, and the library staff encouraged everyone to fill one out.

Feedback from both the survey and focus groups was gratifyingly positive; patrons are on the whole pleased with library operations and staff, and are also very appreciative of the benefits of C/W MARS membership which affords them the ability to order items easily and quickly from other libraries.

Feedback about the collection indicates that, while mostly pleased, patrons would like to see a broader selection in adult fiction and non-fiction. They would also like to see us purchase more audio books, DVDs, young adult books and magazine subscriptions. A few patrons asked that we add music to the collection, including children’s music. Space and budget are the limiting factors here, but participants at the focus group encouraged us to consider soliciting donations for magazine subscriptions, DVDs and books (“adopt a book” etc.) to boost the collection.

 The survey showed that some patrons would like to see the library open for more hours or different hours. We saw several requests for the library to open an hour earlier on Tuesday and Thursday so that caregivers picking up children at the school next door could stop by the library first (we don’t open until school lets out on those days). The Leverett Library is open 25 hours each week, 15 more than required by the state, therefore, we would most likely have to rearrange our hours, rather than expand them.  We will revisit the hours question in the near future.

Feedback also indicated that our patrons value the programming offered at the library and want more. The popular programs ranged from movie screenings, Lego Club, author visits and cultural events, art workshops and internet/computer workshops. We will continue to offer these programs and hope to add to our repertoire.

The library wants to continue to support the arts and artists in town. The art shows in the community room are always a draw to our visitors, and a simple means for artists to get their work out in public. The shows must go on, and we hope to reach out to new local artists. We will continue to work with artists to bring art/craft workshops and talks to our patrons.

The grounds are an important element of our library, for music on the patio in the summers; for outdoor story hour programs; and just for sitting outside to work, read or use the library’s wireless. We are lucky to have a team of worker bees keeping the grounds ship shape: we have several volunteers who weed the patio garden and another who fills our entryway flower pots three times from spring through the fall. The highway department keeps the parking area and grounds trimmed, swept and plowed. We have plans in the works for improvement; this fall we will be planting a tree in an empty spot at the front of the building, with a bench to come later on, and a group of homeschoolers who use the library as a base have planted bulbs by the picnic table. We continue to maintain and improve inside and out.

Survey results and focus group discussion demonstrated to us that many residents are not aware of the extent of the services and programs offered at the library. One priority for us is to expand our outreach.  Step one is to invite patrons to sign up for a monthly e-mail from the library which lists upcoming events and has a link to the library website. Another idea is to prepare a handout detailing our services for distribution at the senior lunch, and for posting in the elementary school and town newsletters. We also may want to start a Facebook page and open a twitter account for regular updates and alerts, in order to reach the broadest possible audience.

A strong financial position is crucial if the library is to achieve its goals. The director has expanded the number of applications to the local cultural council for programming. The director will look into other grant opportunities such the LSTA STEAM grant, and promote patron giving by preparing information for the public detailing how individuals can donate money to the library. Finally, we wish to support and encourage the Friends of the Library in their critical mission, and to look for ways to enhance our relationship. We need to educate the public that without the funds raised by the Friends, many of the “extras” not covered by the town budget would not be possible (museum passes, author visits, children and adult programming).

The library must be prepared to cope with natural disasters and emergencies. This requires that we develop and maintain a successful response protocol. To this end the director will update our emergency plan using MBLC tools. We must also train staff and volunteers in preparedness. Computer programs and documents need to be backed up in the Cloud.


D.  METHODOLOGY          

In February 2014 the library director attended a Strategic Planning workshop sponsored by the Massachusetts Library System. In April the director put together a Strategic Planning Committee, which consisted of the library director, the library assistant and five residents, both men and women. The residents were of different ages and backgrounds, and included a member of the Trustees; a young adult patron; a member of the Friends group and regular internet user; and two parents who are regular library and ILL users.

The first meeting was held in June and was facilitated by Mary King of the MLS. Over the course of 90 minutes we performed the SOAR assessment, and determined that we would use a survey and a focus group to gather input from the community.

 The second meeting was facilitated by one of our own committee members, a former librarian and a town meeting facilitator. We met again for 90 minutes and discussed our SOAR results and drew up the survey. We used sample surveys from the MLS and the SOAR analysis to our survey. We also looked at samples and reviewed our own Vision and Mission statements.

 The survey was distributed to every household in Leverett as part of the town newsletter that went out June 1. We distributed copies of the survey at the library, the post office, the town hall and the Leverett coop. We received 109 completed surveys out of 810 households.

The library director then organized a focus group of six residents: the Head of the Selectboard and the Broadband Committee; a member of the Friends group; two parents; the school librarian and regular library internet user. The group was made up of men and women of different ages and backgrounds. We met in the community room at the library for 90 minutes. This group offered creative suggestions for new programs and provided feedback on the collection, hours and other subjects raised by the survey.

 With survey and focus group results in hand the Planning Committee met for a third time to discuss the results and to prioritize the library’s needs in the coming years.



Goal 1. As high speed internet comes to Leverett determine ways in which the library can help residents with technology needs.


·         Work with Broadband Committee and technology- savvy patrons to organize workshops on setting up home networks and security to ensure people are prepared for using the internet at their homes.

·         Hold workshops on using the library system, accessing and searching library databases, placing holds, managing library accounts. Offer a range of workshops based on skill level, and both formal and informal training.

·         Ensure that staff is up to date in training on the PAC.

·         At User Council Meetings continue to push for user friendly improvements especially with the PAC.

·         Continue to keep up with upgrades to the computers and software in the library.

·         Promote the fact that residents/patrons have access to BPL resources.


Goal 2. Develop New and Creative Approaches to Advertizing Library Services, Programs and Events.


·         Gather together a creative group to brainstorm and carry out new outreach.

·         Solicit volunteers to help set up and manage social media for the library. Try to find one volunteer for tweeting and one for Facebook. Consider other social media.

·         Enhance relationships with other town organizations to enhance outreach.

·         Develop a mobile version of our website.

·         Monitor the popularity/ success of the new email reminders.

·         Improve library website.


Goal 3.  Continue to provide our patrons with a vibrant collection of popular materials.


·         Weed and reorganize the audio book collection

·         Reassess the way the materials budget is allocated. Look at what people are checking out/ placing on hold/ patron input.

·         Consider adding Playaways to the collection. Cost and storage.

·         Encourage patron suggestions of titles for purchase.

·         Review magazine circulation numbers for both old and new magazine titles and assess before renewing subscriptions. Examine ways to reorganize magazines so that we can offer more titles.

·          Join CW/ MARS ebook project  2015/2016

·         Weed regularly to keep the collection relevant.


Goal 4. Continue to maintain and enhance the building and grounds.


         With custodial and facilities staff, develop a maintenance schedule for the building, including batteries, painting, cleaning etc.

        New projects to improve the building/ grounds. New shelving in YA room where space is tight.

 Bench out front under new tree as it grows.  

New chairs for  patio

Clean out storage closet in compliance with fire code. 

Look over disaster plan to ensure it is up to date using the MBLC program.

Promote volunteer opportunities with grounds upkeep.


Goal 5.  Develop and implement new programs for a range of ages and interests, to maintain the library as a hub for culture, social and education in the community.


·         Offer programming that addresses the needs of adults in the community, such as author events, art programs, lectures and new ideas such as coffee and newspapers on Sundays.

·         Enhance the town wide read program

 Offer programming that addresses the needs of children in the community, from toddlers to young adults. Partner with the Community Network for Children on program for young children, such as the Halloween program.

·         Develop a program schedule at the start of each year to ensure a range in programming once LLC grant applications have been determined.

·         Look for new grant opportunities for programming.

·         Solicit patron input for program wants/needs.

·         Collaborate on grants with other libraries, similar to the STEAM grant.

·         Ask the Friends to help fund special programs.

·         Partner with other organizations in town to develop/ fund and promote programs, ie COA, Historical Commission, Peace Commission, Crafts and Arts Center.


 Goal 6.  Offer our patrons relevant and needed services in a friendly, helpful manner.


·         Investigate options for purchasing a printer that would allow printing from laptops.

·         Consider purchasing a tablet for use at the library and circulation.

·         Provide homework/ research help for students.

·         Work with school to have materials on hand for special projects.

·         Maintain volunteer morale.


Goal 7. Assess the financial situation of the library to ensure we stay on track for state requirements for certification.


·         Seek new ways to be environmentally conscious, save on paper, efficient electronics and lighting etc.

·         Advocate for the library at Town Meeting that we once again meet the MAR.

·         Encourage financial gifts.

·         Support the Friends of the Library in their fund-raising activities,

and look for ways to enhance our relationship. Help promote membership in the Friends group.


Goal 8.  Re-assess the Library’s Hours.


·         Solicit additional patron input

·         Change hours if appropriate

·         Determine how best to change hours, if appropriate.