In its new strategic plan for fiscal year 2023 through fiscal year 2026, Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will look to expand access to library services among underserved communities.
The library system announced four strategic priorities in its new plan. Library staff will look to help children under five years old prepare for kindergarten and teens prepare for college. They will also help English language learners feel welcomed into American society and allow residents with limited technological access to bridge the digital divide.
To achieve its these goals, MCPL will promote its new strategic plan at library branches near new Equity Focus Areas – parts of the county with high concentrations of lower-income people of color who may not speak English as their first language.
“Residents in these areas targeted by the MCPL strategic plan are susceptible to systemic racial and social inequities,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in a Tuesday release. “Our libraries serve each of their communities in so many ways. Right now, certain communities need extra help and this plan puts MCPL on track to understand the needs of those communities.”
MCPL hopes to increase the circulation of children’s learning materials at libraries near Equity Focus Areas. This will improve kindergarten readiness rates among English language learners and children from low-income households, the plan said.
The libraries will also establish opportunities for teenagers to serve as program specialists and librarians at each MCPL branch. Teens will also have the opportunity to serve on advisory boards that are representative of the racial and socioeconomic backgrounds of each library’s community.
To assist English language learners, MCPL will increase its recruitment of multilingual librarians and promote outreach events in languages other than English.
County libraries will also expand digital skill-building classes and technological tools to low-access areas. The county will also partner with organizations working towards digital inclusion and promote more digital literacy outreach events.