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Director’s Report to the Board of Trustees for February

1. AV Project

As the June 30, 2014 deadline looms larger and larger, a great amount of work is being accomplished that should bring us to that goal in a timely manner.  The goal of the AV Grant was to make the library’s DVD, CD, and game discs directly available to the public.  It seems simple enough, but to get the results that would be best for the library patrons, a great effort is required.  I am pleased to report that Marianne Silver, Janet Makoujy, Gail Seidenfrau, and Susan Telesca have all pitched in, and have done and continue to do an excellent job of moving the project forward.

Once completed, the changes made will be immediately obvious to anyone who crosses the library threshold, starting with the lobby (area by the circulation desk), the children’s department, and the even greater changes made to the Lower Level and 1st Floor areas of the Adult Services Department. 

The two project areas will be discussed separately, and will be followed by a few specific items related to the project:


1.      Adult: All shelving and the two specially milled desks (one for reference staff and one for 14 PC users) have been ordered.  Numerous changes will become apparent as the work proceeds in the next few weeks.  To make room for the delivery of the new shelving for AV materials and the relocation of other library materials, several library stacks will be removed from their current locations and moved to the Meeting Room.  The amount of space they take in the meeting room will impose greater limits on the number of people permitted to attend library programs.

These stacks also will be an inconvenience for those who regularly browse and borrow from them. 

Carpeting will be laid in the portions of the first floor that were not carpeted because the library chose to carpet around the stacks.  This left the now exposed portion—occasioned by the transfer of the stacks to the meeting room—in need of being carpeted.

The changes in the front lobby of the first floor opposite the circulation desk will require some electrical work and the installation and relocation of some equipment.  However, the inconvenience to the public in this area will be limited.

Further changes will continue to be made as the project progresses to completion.  The work in the lower level will require construction, painting, and electrical work.  The first floor also will require electrical work.  The goal is to get all of the work completed by June 30.   We trust that the users of the library will accept these inconveniences in exchange for getting a much more functional, efficient and user-friendly adult services and circulation department. 


2.      Children’s: All of the orders have been placed and deliveries are expected in the middle of the week of February 16th, barring more massive snowfalls.  It will be wonderful.  Along with the new shelving and direct access to the DVDs, CDs, and games in the Children’s Department, much of the old furniture will be replaced.    


3.      Self-Check Station: I am bringing this to the Board’s attention at this time because this piece of equipment will be an essential addition to the circulation department’s charge and self-check PCs.  It is required for greater staff efficiency and for improved patron service.

By way of background the main thrust of the AV project is to simplify access to DVDs, CDs and games for patrons.  Currently two circulation terminals in the AV department are used to charge out these discs to patrons.  Once the discs move to the first floor the people will bring their selections to the 1st floor circulation desk for checking out.  We request that one self-check machine be added to the circulation department so that there will be better service, fewer lines, and the whole checkout process will be more effective and efficient.  It will be a far better replacement for one of the PCs in the AV department.  The self-check will be placed against the wall currently occupied by the copying machine across from the circulation desk.  That lobby copier will go to 1st floor adult services.  (The adult services copier will go to the lower level.)

With the elimination of the cumbersome and inefficient method of circulating DVDs, etc., it is expected that the number of discs circulating will exceed the current numbers.  Patrons will go directly to the shelves, simply pull the DVDs they want and bring them to the 1st floor circulation desk.  They no longer will have to search through the browse cards, bring them to the AV desk, and then wait for the Library Assistant to retrieve the item from the shelf and, finally, charge it to the patron. 

Once the AV materials are added to the workload of the first floor circulation desk, it is essential that the additional self-check machine be added.  Given that the public is totally accustomed to using self-check PCs, they will be pleased that by using the self-check process for DVDs it will be more efficient and quicker for them.  Gone will be the browse cards and gone will be the need for the AV staff to retrieve the DVDs.

There is limited space at the front desk.  Only one regular checkout PC will be added to the desk which will max it out.  The PC terminal and the self-checkout will more effectively replace the two PCs used in the AV department.

Gail Seidenfrau, Supervisor of the Circulation Department offers the following reasons for purchasing a self-check machine:

1. Most self-checks use RFID (radio frequency identification), which is very expensive and would require a massive expense for the library.   RFID tags would have to be placed in every single item in the collection, and they are more expensive than the magnetic stripes we use.  Our patrons know how to use the 3M self-checks; other brands of self-checks have an entirely different screen and checkout procedure.

2. The library’s two self-checks were installed almost 4 years ago.  The library has had very few issues.  3M service is usually prompt and corrections are made over the phone at no charge. RCLS maintains the software.

3.  Check out service at the circulation desk will increase once AV closes.  AV had two checkout PCs.  Adding a checkout PC to the circulation desk (there is only space for one additional checkout PC), and purchasing the self-check are both necessary in order to replace the two checkout PCs removed from the AV department.

3. Patrons who need staff assistance frequently tie up a PC terminal for long periods of time.  Because of this, lines will tend to build up in the lobby if the additional self-check PC is not acquired--especially with the entire collection of AV materials immediately accessible on the 1st floor.

4.  Circulation also issues library cards and museum passes which take longer than the usual transaction time and tie up PC terminals.

5. One of the library’s most important goals for the renovation is to improve the patron experience.  Not purchasing this self-check PC will create long wait times for checking out materials and resolving patron issues--this defeats the purpose of the grant.

I request that the Board approve the purchase from 3M of a self-service circulation station for a cost of $18,800.  The library already has two self-check machines from 3M.  The security gates by the doors are from 3M as is the LCD screen on the wall by the circulation desk.  Overall 3M has been reliable, its products work relatively well, and 3M is responsive when there are issues—which always have gotten resolved.


4.      Purchase of Overlays: Because of the project’s urgency, I went ahead and put through an order that exceeded my $10,000 limit.  I apologize, but it was a necessary piece required for the AV project.   The pressure to be able to put the theft-protection magnetized overlays on the DVDs and other discs is urgent.  We were afraid we would run out of overlays and that the children’s DVDs would not be ready by March 1, when the complete juvenile AV collection is supposed to be placed on the newly installed AV shelving.

Susan Telesca solicited three bids for overlays from the three biggest library supply companies.  Following is her report:

“Mitch, here are the quotes for the overlays.

Gaylord was $23,390

Brodart was $24,000

Demco was $17,901

“I also had spoken with 3M directly but they directed me to the vendors that sell their overlays.

“I chose Demco.   They were considerably lower on their quote, they had the overlays in stock, and they were able to get them to the library in 5 days.

“There also was no charge for shipping or processing.  Everything was included in the quote.”

I approved the purchase of the 18,000 overlays from Demco for a price of $17,901.

The overlays came in early in the week of February 9.  They are immediately being affixed to the children’s AV discs.  Getting them this quickly ensured that they would not run out of overlays and it enables Tech Services to meet the February 28 deadline to complete the processing of the children’s AV collection.  This means that Children’s will be able to begin circulating the discs immediately. 

With the bulk purchase, the library has enough overlays for the entire adult and juvenile DVD, CD, and game discs.  There’ll be enough on hand to finish the entire project.  And the library got the best price.


5.      Budget and Expenditures

I met with the Personnel and Finance Committee and with the Building Committee.  I went over the current and projected spending for the AV Project.  We are on target to spend all of the money that we committed to, $192,000.  We have expenditures and encumbrances adding up to $204,000+.  We didn’t plan on the architect’s overall charge for the firm’s work (drawing up the construction and wiring plans, putting them out to bid, and managing the process).  The original estimated amount architecture fee was exceeded by the actual quote.  We worked together and made some adjustments to lower some of the costs of the construction, electrical, carpeting, etc. work to be done, but his fee was not reduced at all.  Overall the budget would not have exceeded the $192,000 if the architect’s overall estimate was consistent with the actual numbers he proposed. 

The $192,000 limit was exceeded by 6.25%, less than the 10% usually budgeted for unexpected charges.


II. Timeline for the Project

Mastering the GANTT chart process and getting all of the data entered was not attainable given the time frame specified by the Board.  A functional timeline using Excel was prepared by Marianne Silver for the project.  Marianne already presented it to the building committee, and she will present it at the February Board meeting.  It will give the Board a good view of what steps remain and the estimated due dates for achieving them.

At this point these are the major factors affecting the June 30th deadline:  on-time delivery of shelving and the two custom furniture pieces; the delivery of the self-check terminal, if approved; and the completion of the work managed by the architect.  The latter involves construction, electrical work, laying carpeting, and painting.  The architect will be managing this effort.  We will work closely with Degensheim Associates to help ensure that there will be no unnecessary delays.

The other factor is the massive job of placing overlays on 12,000+ discs.  This latter element doesn’t affect the expenditure of the grant funds.  There are only in-pocket labor costs for the completion of this work, but this is the payoff for the grant.  Once the overlays are on the discs, the AV discs will all circulate from the 1st floor.  It will be a whole new and positive user experience.

Moving and relocating numerous ranges of shelving will be big jobs.  Getting the shelves to the meeting room and subsequently relocating them to their new locations will be labor intensive.   It may turn out otherwise, but at present it is anticipated that moving the shelves will be done by volunteers and the custodial staff.  All of the materials on the shelves will have to be removed from and re-placed on the shelves each time they have to be moved.

The work in the Children’s Department will be virtually complete in the next few weeks.  All juvenile DVDs, CDs, and games should be in circulation from open shelves in the Children’s Room.  The new furniture should be in place.  And the staff will be able to do story times in the Children’s Department.

III. Privacy Policy

This part of the Director’s Report is offered in response to the following amended Board Resolution of January 16, 2014.  First the resolution as amended:

1. The New City Library Board of Trustees hereby directs the New City Library Director to immediately commence a thorough ‘top to bottom’ review of the New City Library’s general privacy and confidentiality policy and practices to determine whether the New City Library is properly safe-keeping its records to assure the privacy and confidentiality of our library members. If the Director finds there are deficiencies in the library’s policy and practices, the Library Director shall indicate how such issues are being or should be addressed.

2. In his report, the Director shall also determine whether any breach of privacy occurred prior to the election.

3. The Director’s written report shall be presented to all Library Board Trustees no later than 48 hours prior to the February meeting or the Board of Trustees. 

Following are my responses to the resolution. 

Sections A, B, and C, are offered in response to paragraph number 1. of the resolution above.  It covers what is accessible in the online circulation system and who has such access.  It also deals with other programs that specifically permit specific individuals to do analyses of the database or to use the patron email records for promoting library service to the public.  A. – C., below, address the confidentiality of the universe of computerized records in, or derived from, ANSER, the circulation system.

Section D will respond to paragraph number 2., which pertains to records that were not derived from the ANSER system, but did involve a breach of confidentiality.

A. Confidentiality of Circulation Records

The personal information in the patron records is confidential and what they borrow is confidential.  It is the State law.  All new employees who are given access to ANSER terminals are instructed that it is a violation of State law to disclose or use that information except within the context of their job responsibilities and for no other reason.   Every single person in the circulation department who works at the circulation desk and all of the professionals in Adult Services have access to the patron files data base in ANSER.

B. How confidentially have the patron records been maintained?

A staff member who has been employed by New City Library for 12 years said that there has been no breach of the confidentiality of circulation records during that tenure.

C. What programs provide access to patron records in the ANSER database?

There are two different programs that provide staff-accessible access to the records in the circulation database.

1. Web Reporter: This is a program to which six people have access.  Web Reporter is primarily used for compiling in-house management reports, including the creation of dusty shelf lists which are crucial for the weeding and maintenance of the collection.  The program is capable of creating other reports, but the dusty shelf reports and other data analyses of circulation records are the primary uses to which Web Reporter is put. 

 Fyi, the dusty shelf reports can give information about a given collection of the library which lists the last time an item has    circulated.  Ordinarily a book that hasn’t circulated since 2004—unless it is special—will be removed from the collection.  This is the kind of information provided by Web Reporter. 

2. ANSER Workstations: Any member of the staff who has password access to ANSER can access all of the information in the patron database.  This is necessary because routinely questions come up at the circulation desk and elsewhere in the library, such as adult services, that require access to a given patron’s record.  Unlike Web Reporter, it is impractical to dig reports out of the circulation system.  To reiterate, all staff understand that it is illegal to violate the confidentiality of any patron information in ANSER.  

Enclosed with this report is a copy of the library’s Policy of Confidentiality, Section B. #4.  Practices are contained therein that provide a number of specifics.

I want to quote from B. #4 regarding how requests are treated from legal authorities who want to access the patron record database or specific patron records:

“Library staff will not divulge patron registration information or borrowing records to local, state or federal authorities or to any group, agency, corporation, or institution without a duly executed court order or court-ordered subpoena.”

As noted above there has not been a known violation of any patron’s confidentiality in at least 12 years. 

Totally out of New City’s control is access to ANSER by RCLS staff, as is true of every library in the RCLS system.  To our knowledge there has not been a problem with confidentiality being violated by RCLS.

3. Mad Mimi: This is the mass mailing program that currently is used by the Community Relations Department to do mass mailings of weekly and quarterly newsletters, announcements, news of cancellations of programs, etc.  Mad Mimi is provided with the 8,000 patron email database from ANSER.  The firm is required to maintain strict confidentiality and to be used only by the terms agreed upon.  These email addresses are not linked to patron names or any other identifying information.  In the past DearReader had the library contract.  When the contract was terminated, DearReader was required to and did return to the library all of the library’s patron records.  Veronica Reynolds, Coordinator of Community Relations, is the only person on the library staff who uses Mad Mimi.

Overall the library’s procedures for maintaining the confidentiality of patron circulation records are good.  There have been no known breaches of the confidentiality of the ANSER database for at least 12 years.  I have found no specific deficiencies which need to be corrected.   Overall, given the number of people who have access to the ANSER patron records, the fact that there have been no known breaches is a tribute to the procedures in place, the supervisors, and the operating staff who have daily access to those records.  I applaud their performance.

D. Breach of Confidentiality during the Past Election

The relevant part of the Board resolution:

2. In his report, the Director shall also determine whether any breach of privacy occurred prior to the election.  

My response is:

Yes, I determined that a breach of privacy occurred prior to the election. 

I took steps to ensure that it would not happen again.  The individual or individuals involved were told that should this ever happen again serious disciplinary action would be taken, up to and including immediate dismissal for cause for violation of the library’s Policy of Confidentiality.

IV. Long-Term Plan

I contacted Leslie Burger, President of Library Development Solutions (LDS) to discuss having her tender a proposal to lead the library through the development of a long-range plan that would include a process for the library to do annual updates as required by the State—which New City hasn’t done since the plan was adopted by New City in 2001.   The original plan was submitted to New City in October 2000.

By way of background, the LDS client list includes so many clients it reads like a page from the phone book.  See http://www.librarydevelopment.com/leslieburger/index.htm.  

Ms. Burger has been the executive director of the Princeton Public Library since 1999.  She was the President of the American Library Association, 2007-2008. 

Should the Board wish to go out to bid, I will identify and contact two other people who can offer proposals for leading the planning process and producing the report.  I will draft a request-for-proposals which will be submitted to the Policy and Planning Committee.  The committee-approved version will be sent out for bids.


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