Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From the Suggestion Box: Cheaper Fax Price

This week's suggestion box submission requests a cheaper price for sending faxes from the library.

As public library services evolved from the traditional core service of lending books, value-added services that met community needs expanded the library's offerings. First came manual typewriters for the public. Those became electric typewriters, then gave way to word processors and PCs. In the same vein, there were mimeograph machines that gave way to photocopiers, faxes and scanners. That evolution changed public libraries. But as budgets tighten, libraries find ways to offer these additional services while focusing resources on core services.

To do that, your library investigates cost-effective options for those additional services to help balance the budget. For fax services, as our population skyrocketed and demand for service followed, it became clear that faxing for the public was taking staff away from core services. At $2.00 for the first page and $1.00 a page for the remainder, the fee didn't cover the cost of the service. Some neighboring libraries recommended outside vendors that offered self-service fax kiosks. The library provides the fax line for the fax machine. The vendor provides the machine, credit card processing and customer support. For each fax sent, the library receives a percentage from the vendor. The cost is $1.50 for the first page and $1.00 per page for each additional page. The decision to outsource this service was a win-win: the price was lower with the vendor and staff time was freed for core services.

The short answer: fax prices are set by the outside contractor and lower than when public faxing was done in-house by staff. This vendor was selected because they offered the best package of services that met the library's needs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Snapshot Day Fun! (okay, not so much in my office...)

Join us for some great programs and contests today, as libraries around Illinois record "a day in the life" to share with their legislators and communities! Today, programs include Bounce and Tickle, Fun With Music, Fablehaven Book Club, Conservation Plainfield, Computer Help for Jobseekers and Vintage Spring Holidays. Does seven programs in a day seem like we're loading them up just for Snapshot Day? Not so! The Library regularly has 8-10 programs in a single day.

With all that going on, you'd think it would be an exciting day throughout the Library. You'd be wrong. I will be writing reports and compiling information for next week's Board meeting. Definitely not the most exciting thing I do :-)

Stop by the Library today and get you picture taken. Send us a comment via email, text or make a comment on the Library's Facebook page to share your own library story as part of Snapshot Day and National Library Week. We love your comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Celebrate National Library Week With Us!

National Library Week (April 10-16, 2011) is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association to celebrate libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

Join in the fun: find a golden Book and win a prize, enter our raffle or bring in non-perishable food items in lieu of fines. Share your story about how your library makes a difference in your life. Stop by on Wednesday for Snapshot Day , focusing on a day in the life of Illinois libraries.

Here's an idea from Onlinecollege.org on 50 great ways to celebrate your library!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Strip Mall Site for Branch Would Require Drastic Cuts of Other Services

A resident recently asked me about the possibility of off-loading some collection or service to satellite facility that could be located in one of the vacant strip malls around town. Surely, the library could get space donated and then could run a branch?

This is an idea that the board of Trustees have investigated before - and will again. The concept of leasing rather than building an additional library facility as part of a revised referendum plan is under consideration by Library Board of Trustees. Over the next year, you will see and hear more about the reworking of the referendum and that planning process. Without additional funds, the Library’s budget today is insufficient to support a second facility unless major cuts are made to existing services. With demand for service outstripping income, plus an aging building that costs more to maintain every year, the cost of furnishing and stocking even a small strip mall space and the ongoing cost of rent, staffing and utilities are beyond our means. Checkouts increased 318% in the last ten years while the Library’s income increased only 161%. For now, the Library Board of Trustees is investing the Library’s limited funds in maintaining the existing building and making maximum use of the existing space. In the future, with funding from a referendum, a leased facility in a strip mall may be possible.

As for receiving a donated space, both the Library and Park District need more space, but so far there are no offers of donated space for either entity. Even if a benefactor gave us a furnished and stocked branch today, drastic cuts to existing services would have to be made in order to operate it.

Yes, the Library's budget is that tight. No, there is nothing left to cut that won't leave a community need unserved. Last year, I posted "Drafting the FY11 Budget" about the Library's budget freeze, despite a use increase of more than 20%. As always, the Library will make do within its means. But taking on something new can only happen if it comes with money to support it today and into the future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Smart Money Week Highlights Great Resources

April 2-9 is Smart Money Week. Smart Money Week is all about making the most of what you have. Your Library can help with programs and resources to support you! Programs at the Library include Build Up Your Finances and Morningstar Investment Research Center Online Training.

Take a look at the Business and Personal Finance online resources available through the Library's web site. Remember, the little lock symbol means that a Library card is required to access some sites.

Smart money starts at the Library!