• Library Report

    At the final City Council meeting of 2008, Library Board chairperson Susan Steele reminded the Council of the dire need the Library has for additional funding. At an emergency meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee on January 6, Jim Becklenberg, Director of Management and Budget, prepared a recap for the committee and some recommendations to assist the Library staff in working out the problems.
    Last year, General Fund support for the Library was reduced by 50 percent in an attempt to balance the City budget for fiscal year 2008/09. Library staff decided that, instead of cutting hours correspondingly – to 25 hours per week — they would implement a model that would keep the library open 31 hours per week.
    After several months of working with this model, the Library Board advises that it is not working. Problems, according to Becklenberg, include:
    • Reference services have been curtailed due to a lack of enough qualified staff to cover the reference desk all of the hours the library is open. This problem, he says, is exacerbated when one of the professional librarians is on vacation or ill, to the point that there are virtually no reference services offered.
    • Without reference services, patrons make inquiries at the circulation desk which creates long lines for check-out services.
    • Staff often does not have time to return materials to the shelves, causing frustration for patrons.
    • The children’s department desk is now staffed approximately 25 percent of the time, as opposed to the previous level of 75 percent.
    • Staff does not have time to select new books and maintain collections due to customer service demands.
    • Volunteers, an important resource for the library, are in need of training which staff currently doesn’t have time to do.
    Reiterating Steele’s statement that the current service model cannot be sustained much longer, Becklenberg and his staff recommended that an increase in funding be made immediately to hire one part-time Librarian I, who would work 20 hours per week. A Librarian I can support the reference desk, assist with children’s programs, and assist with circulation desk services. He is also recommending an additional 10 hours per week for the part-time Librarian II position. This position provides senior reference service skills, administers the inter-library loan program, and provides administrative support to the Senior Librarian. The budget increase would also allow for additional hours for shelving materials and staffing the circulation desk to ensure efficient customer service.
    The cost for these positions for the balance of the current fiscal year would be $25,000, with an anticipated annual cost of $60,000.
    With Bill Kampe taking the lead, the Budget and Finance Committee recommended, that Becklenberg recommend that the City Council “consider spending an additional $25,000 to maintain 31 hours of operation per week for the library” by extending the Librarian II position and hiring a part-time Librarian I. The additional staffing will also be worked into recommendations for the upcoming budget. The subject will be on the agenda for the upcoming January 14 City Council meeting.
    It is estimated that about four to five weeks will be needed to fill the position.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 9, 2009

    Topics: Uncategorized

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