Monday, January 23, 2012

Shift Happens

In a library, there is one more thing that is certain, besides the oft-quoted death and taxes - shifting! That's what we librarians call the process of moving books from one shelf to another, for whatever the reason of the day is. It could be a new range of shelving has been added, as our Library has done recently. It could be that there isn't room on a particular shelf or section for all of the items that belong there, as frequently occurs after the holidays and at the end of Summer Reading program.

Shifting is a necessary and sometimes time-consuming process. Each and every item must be placed in the correct place, so that you can come to the Library and find the item you are looking for. Ideally, in a library like Plainfield, shelves are only about 2/3 filled to allow space for items currently checked out to return to the shelf. Without that space at the end of each shelf, shifting becomes a larger chore. Imagine having to move all of those books on the shelves from one shelf to another! It's hard work.

Shifting is one of the biggest challenges at the Plainfield Library, due to limited shelf space and the sheer amount of it that's needed. About half of the Plainfield Library's collection is checked out at any given time. So if you see Sheilah or Lisa pushing a big cart of books around the Library, say thank you! Those two ladies do the bulk of the shifting here. We couldn't keep the books in their places without them and their coworkers, Tim, Nichole, Tiffany and Rachel.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Will Bring Changes but No Expansion

2012 will be a year of changes at the Plainfield Public Library, including a comprehensive evaluation of the existing building's systems and a possible new catalog. But expansion planning (and a referendum for an expansion) has been tabled until 2013 or later.

In December, the Library Board of Trustees approved a contract with KJWW Engineering Consultants to take an in-depth look at the existing building's aging systems. KJWW will study the structure of the building, including roof, windows, doors and fa├žade and its mechanical systems, especially the aging HVAC system and components. The consultant's report to the Library Board will identify and prioritize needs for repair and updating the existing building, including cost estimates for recommended changes. The report will be used by the Board to guide future decision-making and budget planning, prior to any expansion referendum. Reinforcing the need for this study, the Library's heating system required repairs to two separate rooftop units over the New Year's holiday weekend.

Negotiations are underway for a new library catalog! The change will improve the user experience with search capabilities similar to retail sites, such as faceted searching, spell check, and "did you mean…?" to allow easier access to the Library's materials. Once a contract is signed and timeline determined, a formal announcement will be made with details about the new catalog and its features.

Following the Open Forums held and public comments gathered in Fall 2011 on library expansion planning, the Library Board of Trustees voted to table expansion planning. Beginning this spring, the Library Board will revisit the expansion planning timeline one year in advance of each possible referendum date to determine whether or not to begin an expansion planning process. In the meantime, the Library Board's focus is on preserving the usability of the existing building.