Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thanks to 95.9 The River

This morning I stopped by Larry's Diner to talk about the Library live on-air with DJ Scott Mackay from 95.9 The River. Thanks to Scott and the staff of The River for having me on to talk about our fabulous Library!

Scott thought my comment that we are "not your grandmother's library" was interesting and that library use would be dwindling. But in our Library, like others around the nation, is busier than ever! More people look to the Library for Internet access and entertainment. We can't keep up with the demand for storytimes and other kids programming. As the only resource in the community for free computer use with Internet access, foot traffic has skyrocketed. Our residents look to the Library for things like DVDs and CDs, that they can get without charge. Many services are available electronically 24/7 like databases and homework help. You can download ebooks, audiobooks and videos without leaving the comfort of home. Our Library is definitely not what it was even ten years ago.

Unfortunately, unlike for-profit businesses, tough times mean dwindling funding for libraries despite the boom in use. State grant funding has fallen 47% this year alone. Lower property values will reduce the property tax money that makes up over 85% of the Library's budget. We're doing more with less everyday.

Scott and the other DJs from the River will be broadcasting live from Larry's all day long, so stop by and say hello. Tell them the Library sent you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Building, New Problems

Along with all of the interior changes to shelving and space use, Trustees and staff have also been assessing the condition of the building and its systems with an eye to keeping it functional for another 3-5 years before renovating or expanding. In your November/December Library newsletter, the cover article will be on this very topic.

The building is old, fast approaching its 20th year. It is a well-used public building, meaning that it gets significant wear-and-tear. It also has some quirks. Take the HVAC system for example. For some reason unknown to me or any Trustee/staff member who was here at the time, the rooftop air conditioning unit added when the lower level was built out in 1996 is a model designed for the Canadian market, making it difficult to obtain parts when needed. Another example: rubber membrane roofing was used to cover the sides of the gable for the roof access door, like siding. Not a standard use of the product, by any means.

Overall, the age of the building means that all of the systems with 15-20 years expected service lives are no longer as reliable as they once were. Things are starting to break down. You may remember our recurring elevator issues this summer or the roof leaks from the spring. The roofing issues are more immediate now, as they are increasing over time. Look for a roof repair and replacement project going to bid in early October.

This project will repair damaged portions of the shingled roof and entirely replace the rubber membrane portion, plus the decking and insulation beneath that portion. About one third of the Library's roof is flat, though it cannot be seen from street level. Four rooftop air conditioning units and the skylight over the main stairwell are hidden from view by the pitched, shingled portions of the roof.

Funds for the roof repair and replacement will come from the Library's only capital and emergency fund: the Special Reserve Fund. With sources of income for this fund being transfers in from the General (aka Operating) Fund and Developer's Annexation Fees, which are collected through an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Plainfield, its income has dropped sharply. In FY2006, over $244,000 was collected from those fees. In FY2009, it was just over $13,000. Special Reserve Funds were used to purchase the property at 15022 S. Division Street during FY2009 and will be used to complete the contracted purchase of the Route 59 parking lot in 2010. Today's Special Reserve Fund balance is $600,000, which includes the earmarked funds for that contracted purchase and the roof repair and replacement.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where Do I Go?

The new overhead signs in the Library are being installed this morning! The new signage is a flexible system that can be easily and economically changed to reflect the shifting collections of the Library. Unlike the existing signs, which are a custom color and imprinted, the new signs were selected from a local vendor in a standard color and popular overhead sign design with printed inserts that can be removed and updated.

The custom imprinted signs had become outdated. Since they were made, the Library has added collections like Foreign Language, Books on CD, DVDs, and Graphic Novels. The Youth Services Computer Area was created. Rooms have been repurposed like the Computer Classroom and Original Library Room.

New signs reflect the changes being made in the the Library's use of space and collections. Like the existing furnishings and shelving, the overhead signs can be easily incorporated for use in a renovation or expansion in the future. I hope the new signs help you find what you need more easily!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Installation Complete! Shifting Continues...

All of our shelving ranges have reached their new locations. The end panels are on and look good. Today’s focus will be getting the rented carts cleared so that Hallett Movers can pick them up. Shifting will be ongoing for a while, as the collections are moved into their new permanent homes. It will take some time to complete all of the projects. When complete:

  • Local History, Genealogy, maps/atlases, newspapers and magazines will all be housed in the Original Library.
  • Foreign Language will spread out, with separations between Spanish, Hindi, and Polish collections and face-out display for each.
  • Holiday and Parenting collections will be housed on the new shelving in the aisle on the Youth Services Easy/J Fiction side.
  • J Graphic Novels and J Reference will be housed on the new shelving in the aisle of the J Non-Fiction/YA/Teen side.
  • Non-Fiction, Fiction, Books on CD, Large Print, YA Fiction, Y Non-Fiction, Teen, Teen Graphic Novels, Easy Non-Fiction, J Non-Fiction, Easy and J Fiction will all shift with their new shelf space to allow for easier browsing, reshelving of books and additions to the collection.

Now we beginning the final planning for the backroom changes that were included in the Next Steps Plan, the plan devised by Board, staff, and community input to get the Library through the next 3-5 years while continuing to provide the best service possible to the community with what we have. The backroom changes include repurposing the Local History Room for a Study Room, repurposing the Study Room on the lower level for an office/workroom, moving the telephone reception workstation, and creating a larger area for carts in the Circulation workroom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Into the Home Stretch!

The project is on schedule! View the progress on Flickr!

The moving of existing shelving ranges is done. The final two 60” ranges were placed in YA/Teen and the existing ranges reconfigured and moved. The remainder of YA Fiction has moved onto its new taller shelves in its previous location.

Other collections in temporary locations are:

  • Books on CD are on the tops of the Reference shelves.
  • Y Non-Fiction is on the new shelves near the Big Cozy Book seating area.
  • Teen Graphic Novels are sharing space with J Graphic Novels on their shelving unit.
  • Teen Fiction is on newly relocated shelves in the aisle of the YA/J Non-Fiction side of Youth Services.
  • J Reference is on the ledge around the Bay Window Area.
  • Large Print is on 42” shelving in the Original Library.
  • Fiction (the end of the collection) is on Hallett carts near the hexagonal display.

*Apologies for my mistake yesterday, reporting that it was the beginning of the Fiction collection on the carts. It is actually the end.

The final two ranges of 90” shelving will be constructed tomorrow morning. The end panels will be installed last. Then the final shifting of collections from temporary locations onto their new shelving ranges will be done, time and workload permitting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Moves for More Shelves!

Today, two more of the 90" shelving ranges were installed. The first of the 60" shelving ranges being replaced upstairs was relocated to the YA/Teen area. The 60" YA/Teen shelving range shifted forward and the 42" range was relocated. The YA Fiction collection is, as I type, being moved to allow for tomorrow's moves. Any drilling/construction/assembly noise was over by 9:30am.

Other collections in temporary locations are:
  • Books on CD are on the tops of the Reference shelves.
  • Y Non-Fiction is on the new shelves near the Big Cozy Book seating area.
  • Teen Graphic Novels are sharing space with J Graphic Novels on their shelving unit.
  • Teen Fiction is on newly relocated shelves in the aisle of the YA/J Non-Fiction side of Youth Services.
  • J Reference is on the ledge around the Bay Window Area.
  • Large Print is on the relocated 42” shelving in the Original Library.
  • Fiction (the beginning of the collection) is on carts near the Circulation Desk.

Tomorrow, the 60" shelving ranges will all be relocated to the YA/Teen area. The last of the 42" shelving ranges in that area will be relocated.

The project is on schedule for installation and relocation of shelving to be complete on Thursday morning. It will take a little longer to get the collection shifted from their temporary locations to their new homes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Museum Adventure Pass - Plainfield Not Included

Want a Museum Adventure Pass? Ask Macy's why they chose not to include Plainfield, Joliet, New Lenox, Oswego, Bolingbrook, or any of the other members of the Prairie Area Library System in their grant-funded program. You see, the fine print on those big pretty ads in the Sun-Times News Group newspapers (including, ironically, the Joliet Herald News and Plainfield Sun) is that only three of the four regional library systems serving suburban Chicagoland are included in the program. At the bottom of that lovely ad, you will see logos from three regional library systems - and Prairie Area Library System isn't one of them.

Can it be fixed? Can the missing libraries be included, you ask? Well, Plainfield Library staff have been told everything from "there is no money to include more libraries" to "Plainfield is too far away to qualify." Plainfield Library staff asked. When the Sun-Times News Group began publishing those lovely ads in our local newspapers, despite not including Plainfield, we BEGGED. To no avail.

It may be that PALS was too big to include - extending from Rockford to Kankakee, Galena to Peru, it is the largest regional library system in the state. However, the "too far" statement is too much: Antioch, a North Suburban Library System member is included, but Lemont, a Prairie Area Library System member like Plainfield, is not.

My advice to you is this: go here and ask Macy's why our library is not included. That's the "Contact Us" link on the Museum Adventure website Staff has asked and begged with no results. Maybe asking and begging from you, the Macy's customer, will help Macy's include ALL of the suburban libraries.

*** And in case you think it's as easy as changing regional library system membership - that is not a local decision, but comes from the State.

Pardon the Noise!

This morning, bright and early, the shelving installation crew arrived and began moving cleared shelving ranges to their new locations. Two 42" shelving ranges went into the Original Library. One 60" range now sits in front of the Foreign Language collection just outside the Original Library.

What did not occur as expected was the installation of the first two ranges of new shelving. We believed that the installation would be done by the time the library opened at 9am. That was not the case. With the help of our Head of Maintenance armed with Caution tape, we were able to cordon off the area where the crew then finished assembling the first two 90" ranges of shelving. Unfortunately, the assembly did include some noisy drilling. The good news is that the assembly for the first part of the project was done by about 10:30am.

Staff is now working on the shifting and staging for the next part of the project. This means that tomorrow's storytime parents may find things a bit more crowded than usual, as the Young Adult collection is temporarily housed on carts for the next few days. All YA and Teen collections, J Reference, Large Print, Books on CD and the beginning of the Non-Fiction collection are all moving or are in a temporary location. Ask staff for help if you can't find something.

We've already had our first compliant about the project from a patron who said that its always too noisy in the Library. While our Library may generally be noisier than the Library of decades past, drilling is unusual even for us. But I warn you now, its likely to be noisy again tomorrow. The installation crew and their drills are coming back. The drilling/assembly alert is on through Wednesday. We should quiet down to our normal "low roar" by Thursday.

Tomorrow, the Young Adult shelving begins the relocation process, as we make way for more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Making Way for More!

It has begun! Books on CD are on top of the Reference shelves. Part of the Non-Fiction collection is housed on carts. Y Non-Fiction has moved to temporary location near the Easy books. Teen Graphic Novels are now packed in beside J Graphic Novels, covering the top of the shelving unit. Teen Fiction is on its way to its temporary location as I type this...

What's going on at the Library? We're making way for more! Maintenance crew Jayne, Ruth and Chuck jump-started the project by relocating two existing shelving ranges and some furniture in anticipation of the larger moves to come. This allowed Pages Lisa and Sheilah to begin the preparation for this project, moving all of those collections to their temporary homes. The shelving relocation and installation gets into full swing at 6am Monday, September 14. By the end of this complex, domino-effect project, the changes will include the relocation of 8 existing shelving ranges (some as long as 18 feet) and the installation of 6 new 90" tall shelving ranges.

I will be making daily entries here, starting Monday, to document our progress. Check out the Library's Flickr photostream for the latest pictures.

Please be careful in the Library during this project! The book carts being used for temporary housing of the collections are not as sturdy as permanent shelving, so please do not try to move them or allow children to play on them. If you can't find something, just ask! Different collections may be relocated several times in this project on their way to a new home, so don't be shy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Statewide Budget Cuts Will Impact Local Library Service

The Illinois State Library and the regional library systems in Illinois recently announced cuts to grant programs and system funding that will directly impact local libraries like ours. Funding for the State Library and regional library systems was cut 16% for Fiscal Year 2010.

Regional library systems support local libraries with delivery service that is the backbone of Interlibrary Loan in the state. They partner with local libraries to support automation consortia like PrairieCat that provide shared catalogs for libraries. Regional library systems are also the main source of continuing education for local libraries. Level funding for regional library systems for more than a decade has eroded their ability to meet the needs of local libraries for these essential services. This 16% will push more of the cost for these essential services to the local libraries. Our regional library system, Prairie Area Library System (PALS), has not yet announced the plan to balance their budget in Fiscal Year 2010.

The Public Library Per Capita Grant is the main source of state funding for the Plainfield Public Library. Last fiscal year, the Plainfield's Per Capita grant was over $80,000, at $1.21 per capita. Set by state statute at $1.25 per capita, it has not reached that funding level in well over a decade. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Public Library Per Capita Grant program received a 47% cut. The Illinois State Library administration made the decision to offset this cut using federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies. However, this means that there will be no LSTA programmatic grants to individual libraries in 2010. The Plainfield Public Library, and many of our neighbors, put considerable time and effort into LSTA grant applications for 2010. Our LSTA grant projects included digitization of historical materials and services to children with autism. The LSTA grant program had been the main source of federal funds for public libraries in Illinois. Even with the LSTA grant funds, Public Library Per Capita grants are expected to be about 16% less than they were in Fiscal Year 2009, a loss of about $13,000 for the Plainfield Public Library.

Thankfully, our conservative budgeting practices should help to minimize the impact of the loss, but it will still be felt.