Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks for participating!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the telephone town hall event Monday night! It was a great opportunity to share information and answer questions as we move further into planning for library expansion. 2,193 residents connected to the call, with over 200 remaining on the line for the majority of the meeting.

Questions ranged from partnering with other government entities to possible locations for a secondary site to whether public libraries are necessary. (Answers: yes, we are exploring partnerships, no secondary location has been selected but the high volume of comments about north of town are duly noted, and USA Today has an article today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-07-28-library-evolution_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip about why libraries are necessary.)

The group was polled three times during the event. First, they responded 3-to-1 in favor of supporting two library referenda, one to build and one to operate expanded library facilities, based on preliminary information. Next, over two-thirds of participants would like to be contacted about future planning input events. Last, 30 participants are interested in volunteering for a citizens' referendum committee.

There were some technical difficulties in the beginning of the meeting that delayed the start. Caller ID displays showed "Hyattsville, MD 240-696-7345" instead of the intended "Plainfield Library" and a local number. Apologies to any who missed participating because of this error. The vendor has assured the library that it would not happen again if we choose to do another event like this one. The negative feedback regarding this format was far exceeded by the positive feedback. This format will be considered for future events.

The Library Board and staff are committed to a planning process that includes community input as we move through the steps in the planning process. Look for an input session on location of a secondary site once the Board of Trustees determines how to go about the site selection process.

The recording of the Telephone Town Hall Meeting will be available on the library website in the near future. I will place a link here when it is up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A time and place for your questions

I am really looking forward to tonight telephone town hall meeting! It's an exciting first for the library district. In the past, the best information came from the costliest method - the survey. This telephone town hall meeting turns the survey concept on its head, for about one tenth the cost.

Instead of calling residents and asking a set of predetermined questions, the library will be calling to let you ask questions. The calls will begin to go out tonight at 7pm. The call list is based on voter registration rolls, so if you aren't registered to vote, you will not be called. Residents will be called in a random order and may join the meeting already in progress. Participants can press zero to ask a question at any time during the meeting. Other than a brief history of the library's building and some statistics on current use, the meeting will be entirely question-and-answer with me and Board President Sharon Kinley to respond. Even if we do not get to all of the questions, participants will be able to leave a voicemail at the end of the call to ask their question.

In the next few days, the recorded meeting and an FAQ will be posted here and on the library's website.

For myself, the Board of Trustees and the staff, finding out what your concerns are will help us to make sure the planning process not only addresses space needs but also answers the questions of the community during the process.

It's your library. Tell me what you think. Ask me a question.

After all, I am a librarian. Answering questions is what librarians do.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Planning for expansion - now what?

The next step in planning for library expansion is to create a building program. This is an elaborate set of instructions to the architect about exactly what the library needs in terms of sizes, adjacencies, etc. The Space Needs Analysis will provide the basis of gross square footage for each area.

The development of the building program will be accomplished in 3 site visits with building consultant Anders Dahlgren. Representatives of Healy Bender Architects will participate in these visits to gather information on the needs and priorities of each department.

In the first visit, the library's management team will meet with the building consultant for a global overview of the needs and to review collection development goals and distribution of collections.

In the second visit, staff from each department will meet with the building consultant to focus on the needs of their department. Space Needs worksheets will be completed to reflect the results of those discussions.

In the third and final visit, staff from each department will review the Space Needs worksheets and discuss any additional needs or concerns for the space. At the end of the final visit, the management team will review the physical relationships among library departments and their needs.

When the final building program is complete, schematic design will begin. The next opportunities for community input will occur during the design phase.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Over 4,000 Registered for Summer Reading 2008

Today, we surpassed another huge milestone - over 4,000 people registered for Summer Reading 2008's "Get in the Game - READ!"

At this moment, it stands at 1,057 adults, 2,321 kids (up to 5th grade), 566 teens (6th-12th grade), and 57 staff.

Already, we have logged more than 3,000 books read by adults, more than 900 by teens, and more than 500 by staff. The kids have read for over 220,000 minutes. With more than 2 weeks left in the program, those numbers will continue to increase.

Thank you, Plainfield for making this the biggest Summer Reading program yet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tele Town Hall Meeting Planned for July 28th

On Monday, July 28th at 7:00pm, the library will conduct a tele town hall meeting. This telephone forum will allow residents to ask questions and receive immediate answers about the library expansion currently being planned. A brief overview of the planning process to date and the library's usage statistics will introduce the topic, followed by an open question and answer session. Participants will be polled using their telephone dial to respond to questions prepared in advance by the Board of Trustees.

Tele town hall meetings are frequently used by elected officials to gather community feedback on issues. The library district is trying this format as a convenient, cost-effective means of gathering community input on library expansion. The telephone list is based on registered voters in the library district and will be called in a random order. Email and written questions and feedback are always welcome.

So far, planning has been very theoretical and big-picture focused - gross square footage needed to serve the district, maximum square footage feasible on the current site, projected population and usage. As the library progresses into more concrete planning, specific issues such as amenities to be included in an expansion and the architectural style of a building, the community will have more opportunities to give input.

So when you phone rings that Monday evening, listen in and let us know what you think about library expansion.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Note to self: keep up with technology and the changing world

I frequently hear from community residents that they are surprised by the services offered at our library. The shift from the old, staid library with traditional services and a "shhhh!" atmosphere began throughout the library world as librarian's recognized the need to incorporate new technologies into services libraries offer. Locally, explosive population growth necessitated not only change, but innovation to keep up with the evolving needs of the community. In the library world, we refer to this new library paradigm as "Library 2.0"

This blog post is a manifesto for the librarians in the 2.0 world:

The fifth point is one I struggle with as I lead this library into its future. As organizations, libraries are not exactly what you would call nimble. As a matter of fact, the pace of change at libraries can often be accurately described as glacial. But we are working on that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What was that about breaking records???

As I was posting about breaking records, the Circulation staff was busy (very, very busy) breaking a new one. They checked in, checked out, or renewed 6,536 items on Monday, a new single day record.

To put that into perspective, it means they moved more than 9 books a minute for 12 hours!

That's an awful lot of books to check in and out, all while waiting on patrons, pulling books for holds, calling patrons with holds, loading carts of books, unloading carts of books, and the many other tasks that make up their day. That's one heck of a workout for a workday.

Let's hear it for the Circulation staff!!!! WTG, ladies!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Record Breaking - Yet Again

Over 3,900 people have registered for Summer Reading at just past the halfway point in the program. Wow! That's over 2,200 children, 550 teens, and 1,000 adults.

It's kind of funny that the staff seems to be inured to breaking records. With all of our growth for the past 10 years, the library district breaks records with startling regularity. Hardly a month goes by without one - from circulating over half a million items last fiscal year to reaching over 25,000 active cardholders, from over 5,000 holds placed by patrons in a single month to moving over 5,000 items through the Circulation Department in a single day. In the overall "busy-ness" of our days, they sometimes pass unnoticed.

So to celebrate our success, I'll be including all of our record breaking activities here. In the next few weeks, we're likely to have quite a few, between Summer reading and the end of our fiscal year on June 30.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Inaugral post

Having done regular email updates for library staff and the Board of Trustees each week for nearly two years, it is finally time for me to step into the blogosphere. I started with email to ease into the thing and get the group used to my weekly status reports. With big projects on the horizon and much to do, I want to expand that weekly report to the residents of the Plainfield Public Library District, ensuring a transparent process as we plan for library expansion.

This will be the place to look for the latest about what's going on behind the scenes for staff, Board of Trustees, and residents. So stop by and read! I promise to at least attempt to keep up that weekly update schedule.