Southern Area Library - Lost Creek, WV
Library Shelf







EXECUTIVE SUMMARY........................................................................................................1

INTRODUCTION AND DESCRIPTION OF PLANNING PROCESS......................................3


BACKGROUND ON THE LIBRARY …..……………………………………………………….…..5

SUMMARY OF COMMUNITY ANALYSIS AND NEEDS ......................................................8




Goal #1: Fostering Community Connections…………...........................................................9

Goal #2: Maximize Funding Opportunities……………..........................................................10


Goal #3: Provide Current, Relevant Programming for All Ages..........................................11

Goal #4: Maximizing Library’s Potential ……………………………………………………........12



Appendix 1: Library’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats...............................14

Appendix 2: Southern Area Library’s Statistical Data…………………………………………...15

Appendix 3: Space Needs Assessment ………………………..............................................16

Appendix 4: Statement on Fiscal Activity…………………………………………………………17

Appendix 5: Communicating the Strategic Plan…………………………………………………18

Appendix 6: Evaluations Strategies for Measuring Outcomes…………………………………19

Appendix 7: Timeline for Developing Future Strategic Plans…………………………………..20





Southern Area Library Board of Trustees on Strategic Plan

Three years ago the Board of Southern Area Library was faced with the task of hiring a new director. Our vision was to find a person who would be committed to making the Library the heart of our community. We could not have made a better choice. Mary Beth Stenger not only embraced our vision, but improved upon it, exceeding our expectations at every turn.

The whole community of Lost Creek has watched with interest and enthusiasm as the Library evolved under Mary Beth's directorship. From the beginning she set the priority of reaching out to the community. She listened to patron needs and interests, then provided materials, services, classes and programs to meet those needs. She oversaw the process of bringing the library circulation and catalog online, updated the library website, and gave the library a presence on Facebook and Twitter and instituted a monthly "Big Heart Campaign", collecting and donating goods and volunteer services to a different charity each month. She reorganized and reallocated the space on both floors creating new spaces for the public access computers, children’s programs and a "reading room"/Wi-Fi lounge. Mary Beth also brought the book collection up to date, advertises new books and programs, and publishes a monthly calendar of events. By offering popular programs and keeping the community informed about events and new materials she has increased both the number of patron visits and program attendance and in the process, made our library an award winner. The Board of Trustees and the whole community are very proud of our "Little Library with the Big Heart".

The attached five year strategic plan provides a road map for continuing to expand community connections, increasing funding opportunities, expanding relevant programming and maximizing the library's potential. Taking more library programs off-site, into the community, will allow the library use of space outside of our building; it should also provide many opportunities for growing our patron base and accessing new sources of funding. As noted in the plan, the most important physical change required to increase the building's useable space is the installation of a stair-lift to the second floor for those patrons with limited mobility.

The Board is in agreement with the conclusions reached and goals set forth in the Strategic Plan. We look forward to being a part of the next phase of development; with the Library as a catalyst for positive change in our community.


F.K. Alsbrooks, President

Southern Area Library Board of Trustees


Southern Area Library is at an exciting stage of development. To guide the library over the coming years, a major planning process was conducted. Input was solicited from a broad range of interested parties including staff, trustees, patrons, community leaders, funding partners, and other external stakeholders. Based on this process, the library has developed a five year strategic plan. This plan provides a clear blueprint for the library’s future. At its core, the plan shows the way toward building on our strengths, maximizing our opportunities, and using innovative and sustainable solutions to address our threats and weaknesses.

This plan will guide the library in its goal to bring positive change to our patrons and our community.

Mary Stenger, Director

The Strategic Plan herein contains the results of the planning process carried out by the library’s strategic planning committee from July 2013 to November 2013 The planning committee consists of board members, citizen council members, teaching professional from our community school, leaders in our community, and the library director.

The committee analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the Library as well as the opportunities and threats in the current economic environment and our community.

This document reflects the committee’s work in updating the vision and mission statements which had been previously updated in 2010. Goals were selected to help the library follow this vision/mission/philosophy. A series of objectives and steps were enumerated for each goal to help the library staff accomplish these goals within the next five years of operation. All areas of the library’s operation were considered including funding (and its limitations), staffing, and space constraints.

Following the body of the Strategic Plan is an appendix including the committee’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis as well as statistical data gleaned from the annual Bibliostat for our library.

This plan will help guide the staff, committees, trustees, and friends in bringing positive change to the library and our community.



Southern Area Library is charged with making positive change in our library and in our community.


Southern Area Library provides a welcoming environment for our community to learn, play, and interact.


Southern Area Library strives to create an environment where life-long education flourishes. The library works with patrons to encourage their economic and educational advancement and to enhance their quality of life.

Southern Area Library is an equal opportunity educational resource for self-directed learning as well as providing research assistance, guided instruction, classroom experiences, and life-enriching activities for the greater community.




Southern Area Public Library was established in 1987 by order of the West Virginia Library Commission under the governing authority of the Town of Lost Creek. The Lost Creek City Council continues to fund the library along with tax based funding from the state library commission, Harrison County Board of Education, and Harrison County Commission. Because the library has a non-MSL director, the state requires that the library be designated an affiliate library with a service library for guidance, training, and other services. Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library (CHPL) is the service library for Southern Area Library. The state library commission provides the service library some funding to provide services to their affiliates so some of Southern Area’s expenses are covered under this service/affiliate relationship. One example of this is a payroll clerk at CHPL who does all payroll related work for Southern Area Library. All other funding comes from fundraising, donations, grants, and other non-annual sources. The library’s current budget for YE 2014 is $34,611. The library’s fiscal year ends on June 30th of each year.


The library’s current facility is a former bank building donated to the library in 1987. This building has 2280 square feet over two floors. While there is a handicap parking space with ramp provided at the front of the building, there are no handicap accessible features allowing handicap or physically limited patrons to access the second floor. The trustees and the larger community would like to make more space available to all patrons (including the elderly) by either putting in an elevator or a chair lift and/or purchasing the lot beside the library to provide ground level meeting areas. There is a limit to how big our physical plant can grow however, due to the next category-staffing.


Due to funding constraints, the library cannot afford to hire more staff. As it is the library is using a recently won grant of $20,000 to allow more staff hours to provide better service to our patrons. This extra payroll funding will disappear in 10 years and will have to either be replaced or staff hours will have to be reduced again with a possible reduction in library operation hours as well. Currently the library employs a director and an assistant to the director. Staff works a total of 48 hours a week combined meaning that some days staff members work alone. This is a distinct disadvantage because it means less work from that solo staff member as they must be at the circulation desk and available to answer patron questions and the phone. Also having staff work alone limits the programming that can be staff led. Staff working alone also could cause security concerns. The library attempts to work through these issues by having a strong volunteer staff to main the circulation desk so that staff can do other library tasks such as collection development, cataloguing, library maintenance, and financial work.


Southern Area Library provides the typical services provided by most libraries.

Collection: The library collection budget has slowly increased over the previous three years. The current budget is $4300. This includes all books, periodicals, DVDs, and other circulating materials. Collection development is augmented with fundraisers such as the Friends group’s Adopt a Book Program as well as donation and grants for book and material purchases. The library is able to provide e-books to their patrons through their collaboration with their service library CHPL; Southern Area Library is not required to pay for these e-books.

Programming: Most library programming is outsourced to other instructors due to staff limitations. Staff provides weekly children programming as well as daily one on one technical help and reference assistance. Space limitations also hamper our programming offerings as there is room for only one type of activity per time slot.

Technology: The library was able to create a larger patron computer lab during 2013. Southern Area Library now has 8 patron computers in the main room downstairs. The library also has wi-fi for patrons as well as a quiet reading room where patrons can take their wi-fi equipment to work. The library is in the process of putting another computer and printer upstairs for student tutoring use as well as genealogical research. The library is currently revising their web site to better serve the community. The library’s facebook page now reaches over 180 friends.

Other Services: The library has a notary on site. It also provides copying, printing, and faxing services. Recently the library established their first maker space; this space offers patrons free use of craft materials and an area to do their projects.





Southern Area Library won Best Small Library in America in 2013. This is an award presented by Library Journal with a cash award of $20,000 provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This award is made to small libraries across America who make significant changes over the immediate years prior to the selection that effect their library, their staff, and their patrons. One of stats that most impressed judges for the library’s selection was the library’s 888% increase in programming from 2010 to 2012. The library offered many new programs for adults, teens, and youth. Here you see one of our successful new programs which encourages a love of books and helps improve student literacy in our area.



Young student reading with a therapy dog during one of the library’s afterschool programs.



While a formal community analysis and needs assessment was outside the scope of the strategic planning committee’s work perimeters an informal analysis and needs assessment occurred naturally during the planning process. The committee made the following observations in regards to the community and its needs.

    1. There is a small but growing immigrant population. This population will have special needs such as ESL classes.


    2. The local elementary school is very receptive about partnering with the library so that the needs of the community’s students can be better met with more effective programming. Most area children are involved in many activities after school which prohibits their use of the library after the school day. Partnering with the school and daycare facilities will allow the library to interact with students during the day.


    3. Many community stakeholders value the library’s use of the historic bank building, and they want that to continue. The location is a prime Main Street location with easy access for the community. The committee did note that the library should continue to renovate upstairs for better use of the entire facility. Also recommendations were made for the possibility of buying the adjacent lot when it becomes available.


    4. Population growth within the city limits of Lost Creek is not expected to be significant in the coming decades. According to the West Virginia Library Commission’s Space Needs Assessment done for our library the population is not expected to grow more than 2% between 2010 and 2030. That means a population of roughly 506 in 2030 (496 current population x 2%). As such the committee recommends that the library continues to reach out to other communities in southern Harrison County for support. If the surrounding communities can be drawn into supporting the library with money and volunteers than the library would be able to offer more services to the entire southern end of Harrison County. Without this support outside the Lost Creek Community, it is the committee’s recommendation that the library focus its assets of time, money, and staff primarily on the Lost Creek Community.



The Southern Area Public Library Strategic Plan for years 2013-2018 contains four main goals: Goal 1- Foster Community Connections; Goal 2-Maximize Funding Opportunities; Goal 3-Provide current, relevant programming for all ages; and Goal 4-Maximizing the Library’s Potential.


    1. Work with Lost Creek Elementary School to help foster a love of reading through shared resources and programs.
    1. Children Librarian to visit school once a month
    2. Director does off-site programming (also goal 4)
    3. Provide presorted and packaged science and social study fair materials
    4. Do Big Heart Campaign activities for the school

    1. Work with local organizations such as Lions, CEOS, Women’s Club to provide aid to the organizations and to encourage more use of library and its resources.
    1. Provide programming for organizations
    2. Ask for financial and volunteer support
    3. Branch outside Lost Creek groups with programming and funding support requests
    4. Offer support to local 4H Club

    1. Work with Middle and High School (located outside city limits but in southern end of county) to encourage students use of library for school projects, higher education resources and financial aid information, and life enrichment opportunities.
    1. Director offer to sit on LSIC committee to increase communication with school personnel.
    2. Staff visit schools at least once a quarter
    3. Reach out to school clubs with programming and volunteer support
      1. Have at least one teen volunteer a semester

    1. Reach out to the increasing culturally diverse community through resources and programs to encourage new patrons to use library resources.



  1. Work with Friends of Southern Area Library (FOSAL) to create unique fundraising activities. Continue with successful fundraisers adding enhanced activities to increase community involvement and fundraising levels.
    1. Soup of Taste (4th Sunday in January)
      1. Invite more local authors. Try for at least 5 each year.
      2. Get more local eateries to donate soup, breads, etc. Reach out to at least 3 restaurants each year.
      3. Invite guest chefs and start best soup contest with prize to help take work off FOSAL members and to increase community involvement.
      4. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t at the end of each event.
    1. Book Sale at the Lost Creek Fall Festival (3rd Saturday in September)

      a. Provide calendars with fall programming

      b. Take card applications as September is National Library Card Month

      c. Provide programming to encourage traffic at booth

      d. Consider selling water and other easy to provide items to increase traffic and monies raised.

      e. Ask if patron will donate a fiberart product to raffle at sale.

    2. Adopt a Book (December fundraiser)
    1. Continue to expand organizations receiving booklist
    2. Take booklist to high school to attempt to get high school organization to participate in book adoptions.
    3. Have posters in October asking patrons to recommend titles for list
    1. Find spring fundraiser for FOSAL

  1. Revamp Trustee fundraiser in attempt to increase funds raised from $500 (2013) to goal of $2000 (2018). This fundraiser was to help library keep library open on Mondays by paying for utilities and freeing up tax-based income entirely for payroll.
    1. Have trustees provide prize for drawing such as a tablet
        1. Attempt to get store to donate all or part of the cost
        2. Ask if we can get patron to donate tablet

  1. Complete Memorial Brochure for Funeral Homes and Church to provide to local families when a loved one passes.



  1. Children’s Programming at the Library
    1. Continue current successful programming
    2. Replace poorly attended programming as needed

  1. Children’s Programming Off-site
    1. Lost Creek Elementary
    2. Staff read aloud and craft booths at community events
    3. Continue current successful collaboration such as the Parent Resource Baby Showers.

  1. Young Adult Programming at the library
    1. Continue one-on-one help with college applications, financial aid, and student resumes.
    2. Have teen promotions separate from children and adult ones
  1. Young Adult Programming off-site
    1. Staff will visit middle school and high school quarterly
    2. Offer books for reading groups at school and after library hours
    3. Offer help at college fairs and other youth oriented community activities

  1. Adult Programming at the Library
    1. Continue current programming if well attended
    2. Create new programming as needed based on requests and patron input
  1. Adult Programming off-site
    1. Offer craft classes at Women’s Club
    2. Computer class at Senior Citizen Group




  1. Boost usable space
    1. Provide chair lift to second floor
    2. Continue remodeling second floor

  1. Attempt to purchase lot beside the library for additional meeting space and parking

  2. Provide off site programming as listed in other goals


  3. Keep Technology Up to Date
    1. Purchase Replacement Computers every five years
    2. Purchase Replacement Printers every five years
    3. Purchase all in one machine that will work with network for downstairs patron use
    1. Color and black and white
    2. Faxing
    3. Scanning
    4. Photo Memory Cards
    1. Wi-fi repeater for reading room

  1. Keep Staff Relevant
    1. Meet and exceed when possible WVLC guidelines for staff CE
    2. Have staff complete "What I Learned" worksheets after CE
    3. Provide staff/ volunteer training monthly
    4. Provide "Do You Know" tip sheet for circ desk staff, updated monthly














Appendix Material





During the first quarter of fiscal year ending 2014, members of the strategic planning committee completed an evaluation of the Library’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as threats and opportunities facing the Library.


• Quality of staff –good employee retention

• Committed Library Board

• Supportive Friends of the Library organization

• Support of local community; great community involvement in the library

• Technology, including Internet access and wireless service

• Programs offered both type and quantity

• Partnerships and collaboration within the community

• Good to great customer service

• Library recognition locally, statewide and nationally due to Best Small Library Award


• Budget constraints; limited ability to increase income

• Limited meeting space/places to collaborate

• Limited parking for library customers


• Capitalize on Library being named Best Small Library in America

• Programming for new immigrant population such as ESL

• Collaborations with schools


• Budget constraints; rising costs

• Fast pace of changing technologies

• Competition from alternative information providers such as Netflix (movies) and Amazon

(eBook rental) may erode our customer base

• Increased competition for leisure time; competition with other children’s programming/activities



Southern Area Library’s Statistical Data has changed for the positive in the last several years. The numbers below represent fiscal and statistical data as of 6.30.13 YE unless otherwise noted.

  • Population served-Our governing authority is the small town of Lost Creek. As such, our population is considered to be 496 (the 2010 census number for Lost Creek). Our registered patrons number 1,143.
  • Total annual budget-Our total annual budget for year-end 6.30.14 is $34,611. We are not part of another body; we do have a service/affiliate relationship with Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library. The state provides them with funds to be our service library.
  • Per capita budget-$34,611/496=$69.78
  • Circulation-5,599
  • Materials budget- $3440.00; West Virginia Library Commission supplies some electronic database at no cost to our patrons.
  • Physical visits (door count)-7,251
  • Online Presence- The library has a twitter account as well as a facebook page. Our web site was renovated September 2013.
  • Number of public access computers per population served-We have nine public computers at this time. One of these public computers is set aside for an electronic card catalog. The remaining eight computers are for public anytime use.
  • Number of days and hours of service per week-Southern Area Library is open 34 hours a week Mondays through Saturdays. It is important to us to be available for our community. We are using funds awarded with our Best Small Library prize money to operate six days a week. This funding of hours with award money will end in 2023.
  • Number of staff-Two. The library has a full-time director who works 20 hours per week, and a part-time assistant who works 28 hours per week. We have active volunteers who often man the circulation desk so that the staff can present programming.
  • Percentage of staff who are professional librarians-We have no professional librarians. The director is a CPA.
  • Programming information-The number of programs in 2013 was 144; attendance at these programs was 1,324.
  • Computer Usage-Total computer usage for the previous fiscal year was 3,552 ; wi-fi usage was 202.




A staff member of West Virginia Library Commission (WVLC) did a space needs assessment in 2013. Our current building has 2280 square feet of usable space. The assessment recommends twice that area for our library’s needs. The recommendation was for 4,658 square feet by 2030.The assessment further recommended that the addition of property to accommodate parking, additional space and ADA accessibility within the library structure be a significant goal in the immediate future.

According to 2010 ADA standards, "(2) An accessible path of travel may consist of walks and sidewalks, curb ramps and other interior or exterior pedestrian ramps; clear floor paths through lobbies, corridors, rooms, and other improved areas; parking access aisles; elevators and lifts; or a combination of these elements."

It is the consensus among the library board, the strategic planning committee members, and library staff that a chair lift is needed to provide better access to the second floor public spaces. An estimate has been provided for such a chair lift at $15,000 (including electrical work as needed). The WVLC assessment does not take this relatively inexpensive fix into consideration. It is a goal to provide such a lift once money becomes available. Therefore the library would like to continue to remodel the upstairs for aesthetics improvements to better use the space as assigned for children’s programming, adult programming, and a quiet reading/wi-fi room.

The library would like to add on to the present building with a meeting room and parking by purchasing the lot next to the library in the long-term. If the lot becomes available for sell, the library has verbal commitments from community leaders to raise funds to purchase the lot and to put a handicap assessable meeting space on the lot. It is the feeling among all parties that the assessment’s conclusions that the library needs an entirely new building did not take into consideration the community’s commitment to utilize the historic bank building, the fact that the outside was completely renovated in 2005 with a $117,600 grant, the funding limitation on staff salaries that would make a larger building understaffed, and the desire of community members to continue to house the library in this historically significant building.

The Southern Area Library’s board humbly asks the Library Commission to reconsider the space needs assessment done in 2013 and to attach our disagreement with the conclusion "accommodations are not possible within the existing footprint of the library…". The library’s space needs assessment recommendations are: 1) provide a chair-lift to make the upstairs ADA accessible and 2) purchase the adjoining lot for parking, greens area, and ADA accessible meeting/programming space when lot becomes available.






This pie chart shows the percentage of funding from various sources. Our biggest source of funding is tax based but it is also the funding which we cannot control or increase. The remaining funding can be increased through increased fundraising, better grant application processes, and pursuing high dollar donations such as memorial donations. The breakdown is currently 82.4% tax based, 2.9% large donations, 4.5% fines, fees, and small donations, 8.7% fundraisers, and 1.5% other.

The library won a $20,000 prize with the Best Small Library Award. It was board consensus to use this money over the next ten years for improving library hours, increasing staff hours so more programming can be offered, and providing money for staff education opportunities such as conferences and relevant CE. The money was divided among these categories with a small amount also going to increased supply budget over the next ten years. It is the board hope that the increase in growth and library usage from these expenditures will allow the library to bring in more money in the three non-taxed based funding areas so that the budget can continue to cover these extraordinary expenses past ten years so that they become routine expenditures by 2023.





This plan will be available at the circulation desk at all times and a copy will be given to all staff. Copies will be given to all boards members as well as presented to city council (our governing authority).

During the initial communication phase a copy will be put out for public inspection and comment. Our web page will also contain a copy of the plan. There will be a link to the plan via our facebook page.

The director and staff will present the plan to area organizations that have been funding agents in the past as well as organizations that may fund us in the future.

A copy of the plan will be sent to West Virginia Library Commission in December 2013. 


Goal 1 Fostering Community Connections

  1. evaluating the number of collaborative efforts yearly with community organizations with a goal to increase programming off-site to at minimum ten programs at year by 2018
  2. have at least one culturally diverse programming event or class instruction per year by 2018

Goal 2 Maximizing Funding Opportunities

  1. Increases are sought in all funding areas that are malleable such as fundraising, grants, and large donations.
  2. Grants: find one new grant source per year. Goal to have each staff member applying for at least 3 grants a year by 2018.
  3. Large Donations: prepare memorial brochure and have at local funeral homes and churches. Increase large donations from 2.9% of the budget to 5% of the budget by 2018.
  4. Fundraisers: Have active email listserv that can be notified of fundraising events. Increase Friends group by 2 new members a year for a 2018 membership of 10 active members or more to allow for more fundraisers. Find a spring fundraising event for the Friends group. Goal to increase trustee fundraiser 10-10 from current amount of $500 raised to $2000 raised per year by 2018.
  5. Have Friends group go through South Harrison High School yearbooks for possible new donors.

Goal 3 Provide Current, Relevant Programming for All Ages

  1. Increase YAD program to five per year by 2018
  2. Increase attendance per program from current average of 9 persons per program (1324 attendance divided by 144 programs) to average of 12 persons per program by 2018
  3. Programs that do not meet the 12 person average attendance will be evaluated by staff with input from the community for consideration of merits for continuation.

Goal 4 Maximizing Library Potential

  1. Have all computers (patron and staff) be no older than 5 years by 2018. Put date on computer box to allow quick access to need for replacement
  2. Have a successful program of laptops and e-readers for patrons in place by 2018 to include use in wi-fi room and perhaps circulating the machines as well
  3. Goal to have staff meet or exceed CE requirements every year. Award certificates and publicize recognition when goal met.





Spring 2017~Community needs survey via post office boxes in West Milford and Lost Creek communities and through the schools and organizations

Summer 2017~ SWOT exercises with staff, volunteers, board, and patrons

Summer 2017~ Gather statistical data and fiscal data to present to planning committee

August 2017~ Form Strategic Planning Committee from community members, board member(s), city council, and staff

August-October 2017- Prepare plan with planning committee

October 2017~ Allow community comment on the plan

November 2017~Final plan presented to the Library Trustees at the regular quarterly meeting for board final approval.

December 2017~Present Final Plan to City Council (governing authority) and to West Virginia Library Commission