Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From the Suggestion Box: Non-Fiction AV Interfiled with Books

"Why are non-fiction DVDs and audiobooks on the shelves with the non-fiction books?"

Several users commented on the non-fiction audiovisual materials, like DVDs and audiobooks, being on the regular non-fiction shelves with the books. Interfiling these collections saves shelf space. For every separate collection at the Library, there are unused shelves before and after the collection to allow for materials to be returned and to show the divide where one collection stops and another begins. In a space crunch like ours, with a Library building housing more than twice the number of materials it was designed for, every inch of shelf space counts.

Most of our customers who browse the shelves for non-fiction titles are looking for a specific topic, like home improvements or a period in history. They're satisfied to find materials on that subject regardless of format. Finding a book and a DVD on that topic side-by-side while browsing meets their needs. Fewer customers are looking at a specific format in non-fiction, but some do. Balancing the needs of these types of customers is difficult in our situation, where space is at a premium.

It was not an easy decision to interfile these and one we struggled with making. However, the hard choices like these, to maximize every bit of shelving we have, are the reality of our undersized building. Ideally, the Library would have a more bookstore-like layout, with face-out displays by subject and multiple copies of items to satisfy all of our customers' different browsing habits. For now, the Library is working to meet customers needs within the limits of our space and funds.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Expansion Planning Tabled

The Library Board of Trustees, at a special meeting on November 1, 2011, voted unanimously to table expansion planning for a possible 2012 referendum. With the feedback from Open Forums and comments received online and in person, the Trustees discussed at length the community’s library needs and the current economic situation. The prevailing sentiment from the community of “yes, but not now” on library expansion was the determining factor in this decision to table further planning for now.

In September, four Open Forums elicited feedback from the public on possible library expansion. Results, including online and in-person comments received, were distributed to the Board of Trustees and posted on the Library’s website and here. After an extensive discussion at the October regular meeting, the Board of Library Trustees set a special meeting to address the timeline for expansion planning. At that November 1 special meeting, the Board tabled expansion planning by unanimous vote. At the Board’s instruction, the timeline for an expansion planning process will be re-examined in spring 2012, to respond to any changes in the building or economic situation.

In the 20 years since the current library was built, population of the district increased nearly 400% to more than 75,000 residents. In the same time period, attendance is up over 600%, checkouts 845%, reference questions 2,020% and program attendance 2,241%. Public computer use, not tracked prior to 2004, is up 1,160% in the last five years. This places enormous pressure on the Library, both for service and on the physical facility.

Next, the Board of Library Trustees will comprehensively examine the aging Library facility and mechanical systems, estimating cost and prioritizing the repair and/or replacement of systems necessary to maintaining a functional library for the next 7-10 years. At more than 20 years old, the expected life of many of these systems has been met or exceeded. Ongoing issues with the HVAC system, elevator, windows and roof must be addressed with the limited funds available.

In the meantime, physical space limits providing Library services to meet community needs. With a facility that is 1/3 the recommended size to serve today’s population, there is no relief in sight for the space crunch within the Library. The challenge of balancing the diverse needs of library users, from library materials to program space to study tables to public computers, continues in the foreseeable future.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crunch! New Shelving Brings Lack of Space into Public View

Since the installation of the new shelving, we've received some comments and criticisms from library users about the lack of space. The reality of the Library's situation is that, given the current funding and building size, some needs will go unmet. The balance between room for books and room for people is a difficult one in a building that is 1/3 the size needed to serve the community.

Users have noticed the lack of space for studying, particularly in quieter areas of the Library. Quiet spaces are few in the Library. Tables are close together and too few to seat all those who would like to study, read or work here. Though one small group study room will return to service in a few weeks, that room will regularly be in use to house literacy volunteer tutors and small programs.

In a recent Youth Services department meeting, it was noted that the Jump and Jive storytime program is so successful that the Storytime Room, where it is currently held, is not large enough to meet the demand. However, the Large Meeting Room is not available at that time to allow the program to expand. This is just one example of many.

Without more space, the Library will continue to struggle with the balance between the resources you need and the a place for you to use them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Board Considers Timeline for Expansion Planning Following Open Forums

At the Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Library Board meeting, Trustees discussed the results of the four Open Forums on Future Expansion Planning. Summaries of the results were sent to each Trustee and posted on the Library's website. Summaries include not only the four formal sessions, but also feedback received through a display of the preliminary options at the Library on Monday, September 19, comments in online news media, verbal feedback to Trustees and staff and emails.

Trustees tabled a decision on the timeline for future expansion planning until the October 19 Board meeting. The current timeline is set to prepare for a possible 2012 or 2013 referendum.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Changes Coming This Week!

The next big changes to the public areas of the library will happen this week. New shelving is scheduled for installation on Thursday. Five new 90" tall ranges of shelving, behind the Reference Desk, will make space for collections like Books on CD, Large Print, Foreign Languages and Biographies. Music CDs will be moving to this area too, making room for two new ranges of 90" tall shelves in the center of the main stack area, between Fiction and Non-Fiction. The shorter shelving that will be replaced by these new tall ranges will be moving to the lower level to give more space for Youth and Teen collections.

The new wall, dividing the Original Library into two rooms is ready to be painted. This will be the new Board Room and the Local History and Magazine Room. The new Board Room should open within the next few weeks.

You may also have noticed the exterior painting project that's been underway. The Library was looking a bit shabby during the power washing and preparation for the painting. But the end results is a definite improvement.

These changes are all a part of the Design on a Dimetm style project, maximizing every inch of the Library's limited space. Room for seating will be limited by the addition of more shelving.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Open Forums on Expansion Planning

Tonight at 7pm will be the second of four Open Forums to discuss the Library's expansion plan revision process. What direction do you, our residents, want to see the Library take? Are you ready for the plan to be revised now, to consider a 2012 or 2013 referendum? Or wait and spend money on replacing major systems in an undersized building? Those are the key questions to be answered through this process.

The Open Forum session start with a presentation about the library's history and the use of the library today. A few key points from that presentation:
  • Library services have changed drastically since this building was designed. Public computers and Internet access are now core library services.
  • No one predicted, or could plan for, the unprecedented growth in the library district and the impact of the fundamental change in library services experienced at the same time.
  • Library use increased more than just what can be accounted for by the change in population, not only by more than double the population increase for check outs, but also by over a thousand percent in reference questions answered, PC use and program attendance.
Today, the building is less than half the size it should be to serve our population according to state and national library standards. It also needs some major work to replace aging HVAC, windows, carpet etc. If the community wants to address the space needs in the next 2-3 years, then the building issues can be fixed short term to make it through to an expansion. If the community does not want to address the space needs in the next few years, more extensive and expensive replacement of systems must be done. The more money spent on maintaining the building, the less money there is to keep up with that skyrocketing demand for service. Where do you want your investment in library services to go?

Open Forums are tonight, Tuesday 9/13 at 7pm, Thursday 9/15 at 11am and Monday 9/19 at 7pm in the Large Meeting Room.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Do We Still Need Libraries? We Have the Internet.

This interesting tidbit crossed my desk recently: The Google Gap

Your search results are only as good as your query. As any of our Reference staff can tell you, people still need help finding answers to their questions. If anything, the sheer volume of readily accessible information can make searching more difficult. Your answer can be buried deep if you can't refine search results! That's where librarians' skills are invaluable - they not only know where to search, they are experts on how to search.

I have the statistics to prove it: in the last 10 years, reference questions answered at the Library are up 145%, over 54,000 questions last year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Rain Stopped But HVAC Is Down Again

This building's issue with systems continue.

The roofing company will be working on our "new" roof again. It is under warranty. We're working with them to resolve the problems permanently. On the flat portion of the roof, there's some pooling of water that seems to be seeping into the seams during heavy rainfall, which, as you know, has been happening frequently.

One of our HVAC units, the one for which we have trouble getting parts due to its age, is not working today. It's a bit warm in Youth Services and Technical Services at the moment, but thankfully the mild weather is to our advantage for now.

Updating the building systems is rapidly becoming critical. But with a price tag in the six figures, the choices for doing the project are grim. Either it's included in a referendum package for voter approval next year or the Library takes out a loan and cuts services drastically to make the payments. No easy answers for our aging and outdated building systems.