POTTSBORO — What kind of community do you want? This is just one of the questions Pottsboro Library Director Dianne Connery has been working to answer through a series of discussions hosted at the Pottsboro Area Library. By answering questions that examine what matters to individuals in a community, Connery is hoping to positively address ongoing issues in Pottsboro and help shape the city into what the community desires.

POTTSBORO — What kind of community do you want? This is just one of the questions Pottsboro Library Director Dianne Connery has been working to answer through a series of discussions hosted at the Pottsboro Area Library. By answering questions that examine what matters to individuals in a community, Connery is hoping to positively address ongoing issues in Pottsboro and help shape the city into what the community desires.


"It is a way for towns, municipalities and organizations to find out what really matters to the community," she said. "… The only people who are experts on what the community wants are really all the people in the community. So it’s to find out what matters."


To accomplish this, the library is hosting a series of meetings called Community Conversations. These meetings have welcomed as many as 15 people and follow a specific guide of questions to understand what matters to the people of the community. An important facet to this is to include a huge cross-section of the Pottsboro population, Connery said.


"We want people whose families have been here for 100 years, to people who moved here from Dallas three months ago," she said. "We want young and old and all economic types. … Anybody who lives or works in 75076 (zip code) is encouraged to participate."


She pointed out that, while having community members voice their opinions in organized meetings such as city council sessions is important, libraries are already a huge source of data and are normally trusted institutions within a community.


"It is not at all about the library," Connery said. "I’m not asking anything about the library, it’s just libraries are about information, so I’m collecting public information and then I can give it to the people who can do something about it."


Several months ago, Connery was one of 300 library directors in Texas asked to host these Community Conversations by the Texas State Library through the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. She traveled to Arlington where she was trained to be a public innovator and taught how to ask specific questions that yielded results.


"These questions are thinkers," she said. "So we sit on it and think about it a little bit."


So far, the Community Conversations have been a success, she said. After their sessions, she said that most of the time the participants stay and continue discussing their ideas with each other. It’s a way for the community to reach out and help each other with their aspirations.


Sunday marked the fourth Community Conversation, and Connery said she expects to hold about 12 different meetings.


"When all this has been done, and it’ll take several months, I’ll be able to review the data and see what common themes emerge," she said. "Hopefully two common themes will rank the highest, and we can take those to the people who can make something happen with it."


During these conversations, the question of identity has overlapped among the groups as Pottsboro residents look for a way to distinguish themselves as a city that offers more than just Lake Texoma. Connery said so far there has not been an answer to that question, but it’s what the conversations are striving for.


She also said that other key aspects the community desires are a small-town feel and getting to know other people. Already, Connery said, she’s seen ways the Pottsboro Library can help with some of these goals. Although she couldn’t list specific ideas just yet, she said good news is on the horizon.


"There are several things that can make an impact," Connery said. "It won’t cost any money, and there are things that can actually be done fairly easily."


To find out when the next Community Conversation will be held, contact the Pottsboro Area Library at 903-786-8274.