The library is a critical component of our Berkeley community. As an organization, we must learn to listen and understand the trends that impact our patrons. The first step is an understanding of what those needs are. As part of our strategic planning process, I am following up with stakeholders and those who attended our Town Hall meetings. I am sending them the letter below that I am now turning into an open letter. I would invite all Berkeley residents to contact me about what the new Berkeley Public Library should be. Below is the letter:

After analyzing the community input gathered from 400 surveys, 80 one-on-one interviews, and 100 people’s participation in a series of town hall meetings, three major themes for planning emerged that will provide a focus for the library to do the greatest good: Community, Collaboration, and Conversation.

Berkeley residents feel strongly that the library is central to our community. As both a community space and a community resource, the library supports all Berkeley residents in the pursuit of their interests and goals.

Collaboration with city agencies and organizations is seen by residents as priority for the Berkeley Public Library. Working with partners, the library is able to maximize efficiency, as well as bring diverse partners together to address neighborhood and city priorities.

Finally, residents see the library as well-placed to facilitate conversation. Initiating conversations within the city strengthens all of our efforts; providing support for community-initiated conversations does the same while also honoring the strong grassroots traditions of Berkeley.

Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with library staff to identify action items, centered on these three themes, to be included in our three-year strategic plan. The plan will be reviewed by the Board of Library Trustees with final ratification of the plan at the February meeting.

If you have input or ideas, please feel free to contact me at

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related, local authors are preferred, and we don’t publish anonymous pieces. Email submissions to The recommended length is 500-800 words. Please include your name and a one-line bio that includes full, relevant disclosures. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

Jeff Scott is the Director of Library Services at the Berkeley Public Library.
Jeff Scott is the Director of Library Services at the Berkeley Public Library.