Small Libraries Directors Forums 2010

There were a series of three Directors Forums given by OLC and the Small Libraries Division Action Council this year and here is a bit of a summary for those of you who were unable to attend.

Directors and support staff from Ohio went to host libraries for dicussion with their peers:

May 17, 2010 : Guernsey County Public Library-Crossroads Branch

May 20, 2010: Harris-Elmore Public Library-Genoa Branch

May 25, 2010: St. Paris Public Library

Based on emails and ideas from directors of small libraries that are affiliated with OLC, these were the main topics offered for  discussion:

Allowable Fundraising & Ideas

Stretching Your Library Budget

Health Insurance Options

Consolidation of Libraries

New Funding Models

Scheduling Small Staffs/Job Descriptions/Pay Ranges

Dealing with Library Boards

Use of Volunteers

 Fundraising:  There were several ideas that were bounced around that would help create revenue for our financially failing libraries, but it was difficult to limit them to things that we were actually legally able to do.

                    Book Sales–apparently it is suggested that book sale prices are not set, rather a donation for items is       better.  Often you will get more $$ than what you would have set its price.

                   Renting Space–many small libraries do have free space or meeting rooms that can be rented out to the public.  There are issues about staff overtime pay for after hours and keys, but for the most part this can be done. See the guidelines made up by  Cleveland Heights Public Library  for help with some of these issues.

                  Local Business Sales– have local businesses sponsor you by donating portions of sales to your cause….one library put their name on one of ANDERSON STORES bottles of wine and 20% of its sales went to the library, as well as advertising.  (However, wine sales may have its own implications that some do not want associated with a library, but other products ARE available!)

Stretching the Budget:   Some ideas included cutting staff and library hours, cutting down or eliminating  cargo delivery(though this makes interlibrary loans much slower), sharing cargo materials with other libraries or receiving some as donations from local businesses, library furloughs,  cutting material spending, changes in vendors and vendor contracts, floating collections, use of volunteers {there are several entities such as Experience Works  or Ohio Career Connections that will provide volunteers–paid by the sending company–for cleaning, landscaping, general library purposes as long as you are not displacing a current employee job}

Health Insurance:  There are new options for cutting costs and still getting quality health insurance for library employees.  Some libraries have saved tens of thousands of dollars by just letting their employees shop around to get personal insurance funded by the library, rather than sharing a plan.  Other options are included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , which was signed in March of 2010.  Information on how it relates to non profit small businesses (small libraries) can be found here and here.

Consolidation: It has been discussed that all the libraries in Ohio be consolidated into either one entity or one library per county with one director head per county.  It has been debated whether or not this will really save money in the long run or if will provide more resources for users.  It has been said that this may not fly as this will punish patrons that need local libraries and could elimate further jobs.  We have seen good results in an online cosolidation of libraries in resource sharing through SEO, but this is a drastic step further that would include state library cards.

New Funding Models: Seek out other libraries that have similar funding budgets to see how they are dealing with their resources.  Send out library employees to other libraries to see how they are running things and how you can improve upon yours. Idea sharing and networking is key here. State statistics will also help in this area, as well as collaborative efforts for online training with other libraries. 

Job Descriptions/Pay, etc.: When discussing the job titles and descriptions, pay scales, and schedules of each employee from the different libraries that were represented, each handled this in an entirely different way.  Many of the directors that attended sought to change the way that job descriptions and pay scales were placed in the library from previous years.  For example, each staff member that had similar duties at other libraries (or even at their branch) all had different titles for the same job and different pay ranges.  The pay schedule was also based on seniority rather than education or positive work evaluations.  All agreed that there should be some sort of standardization of job descriptions and titles for (librarians, clerks, pages, administration) and pay and promotion would be based on education, inititive, positive work evaulations for a period of time, etc.–rather than doing slim to none and being promoted or given a raise based on longevity.

Dealing with Library Boards: This issue could be in a forum in itself, but the specific issue that was raised here was a matter of employee checks and no reliable board members to sign them.  Ideas: make sure there is more than one board member available to sign checks, which could also include the library director.  Also checks could be direct deposited or a schedule should be made especially for signing checks.

If you would like to add anything to these discussions, please comment here and we will forward it to OLC as well as the action council so that we may help solve your issue or to help others in similar circumstances.

As the future of libraries continues to be unsteady, hopefully networking and support can remain strong through these types of programs.



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