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Director’s Report to the Board of Trustees for June

  1.  AV Grant

From a formal standpoint the New City Library is officially done with the AV Grant.  New York State Library Development sent to the Library the FS-10 Approved Report, the official sign-off by the State.

On the furniture front, the new table top for the children’s computer table was finally delivered.  The installers should have the replacement table top in position by close of business, July 11.  Note that it’s the third one—we hope they got it right this time, and we can close the book on the furnishings for the Children’s Room.  Also two chairs that were delivered did not have their cut-outs match the chairs that were originally ordered.  The supplier has been notified, and we trust that this will be resolved—but if the future is like the past, it will not happen quickly.

Other than these couple of issues in the children’s room that will be resolved, let’s put the grant behind us and move on to other initiatives now.

Click here to continue reading this month's Director's report.

2.     Request for funds for furniture for quiet study room

I wholeheartedly endorse the recommendation Marianne Silver prepared regarding the purchase of new furniture for the quiet study room and urge the Board to approve it.  Her narrative and recommendation follow immediately.

It’s been very encouraging to see good usage of the new quiet study room by all kinds of patrons – students studying for final exams, seniors seeking a spot to read the newspaper, business people needing a place to get things done without interruption.  But the space seems a long way from completion; we’re falling short of our goal of carving out an area in the library that provides an attractive haven from distraction and disruption.

The room is currently furnished with existing furniture scavenged from other parts of the library.   This furniture has served the library well for at least three decades, but its condition detracts from the purpose of the space:  to provide a peaceful, pleasing respite from the noise and distraction inherent in our busy library and outside environment.  The tables are marred by scratches, carvings, and splinters of wood.  The chairs suffer the same condition as well as having torn upholstery.

In addition, the stock fluorescent lighting fixtures need supplementing with table lamps or task lighting.  Brighter light is necessary to create a welcoming atmosphere and comfortable reading conditions. 

A community library of our standing should strive to provide a place to work for all its citizens that is clean, contemporary, and a pleasure to be in.   Having such a space would draw students, professionals, retirees and more seeking out a place where they can just get things done!  Imagine the productivity in such a place!

Using estimates from the original Creative Library Concepts proposal, the following amounts are submitted for approval:

Nine tables and 13 chairs    $11,400.00

Nine table lamps                      $2,700.00

Wall décor                                $1,000.00

Total Request:                        $15,100.00 


3.   New and Expanded Initiatives

With the AV Grant behind us, it is time to focus on broadening the scope of the Library’s programs and services.  This list is necessarily incomplete because the management team has just begun brainstorming possibilities. 

     A. Staff Development and Continuing Education

Better utilization of the Friday morning 2-hour delayed opening (11AM instead of 9AM).  It is critically important that there be a staff development and continuing education program for the staff.  Quarterly meetings for the entire staff will be resumed.  A comprehensive set of programs targeted at professional and library assistants will be developed.

One successful approach likely will be targeted training.  An example would be to have someone address the circulation staff on customer service and how to deal with difficult situations.

      B. Outreach Programs

1. Grow the books-by-mail programs for the homebound.

2. Create programs for the senior centers.

3. Reach out to the business community by highlighting and offering classes in the use of the business databases, and the range of business materials in other formats.  It’s time to be proactive regarding increasing the utilization of the library’s online databases.  Also as practical, participate in one or more of the local business and service organizations.

4. Develop working relations with Cablevision and, as possible, offer local cable ‘public access’ programming.  Also continue to develop media relations with area radio stations.

5. Attract more authors for library programs.  Such organizations as the local chapter of Sisters in Crime have many fine authors who will be glad to do a library presentation and then sell some of their books.

6. Conduct programs with authors, etc. via Skype by utilizing the Smart Board.

7. Train public area notaries for service to the public.  One or more circulation and reference personnel would be candidates for the training.  Currently Barbara and Shibu are the only notaries.

          C.    Look for new ways to get the library message to the community and attract more patrons to the library—both on-site or electronically.

           D.    Continue to grow the library web site by finding ways to increase staff and community participation, as well as additional ways to highlight library services.

            E.     Explore the establishment of a maker space at the library—a service that libraries are beginning to provide that has not yet hit critical mass, e.g. online databases are ubiquitous in library land; any library that doesn’t provide them is in the dark ages.   

             F.     Long Range Plan: fully exploit the opportunity offered by the outside consultants by participating actively in the planning process and following through on the more workable recommendations.

             G.    Encourage staff to attend workshops and conferences relevant to their respective positions… budget permitting.


4.      Great Proposal from Susan Telesca, Head of Technical Services

When things go well and make sense there are frequently unforeseen benefits discovered. 

Switching from the browse card system to providing direct access to the DVDs in open shelving has created a wonderful cost saving.  Under the old system, the library purchased processed DVDs from Midwest Tapes.  Processed meant Midwest replaced the original DVD cases with the lock-box cases that were used, and moved the artwork from the original case and inserted into the outside of the case.  The cost of that service, i.e. processing, was $2.35 per case.  Once received at the library, the staff had to use the color copier at $.50 per side, $1.00 total, to copy the original artwork so that it could be placed in the browse card.  The plastic browse cards cost $1.65 each. 

Thus, the total cost for materials for one DVD to be ready for shelving in the old browse-card closed stack system is $5.00.  Yes, $5.00per disc.

I am proud to say that Susan brought her proposal to me to stop that whole means of preparing DVDs for use.  All of the charges from the previous system disappear except that the library will continue to buy lock-box cases, but for $1.02 from Bro-Dart.  The browse card charge is gone already, but the $2.35 charge continued after the transition was completed.

So the current savings is $1.33 per DVD, i.e. the processing charge of $2.35 minus the cost of buying the lock-box case, $1.02.  In terms of all of the costs associated with the old system the library’s savings would be $3.48 per DVD.

After meeting with Susan, we agreed she should immediately stop buying processed DVDs from Midwest and simply buy the lock-boxes from Bro-Dart and the staff will insert the original artwork—no photocopying necessary—in the lock-box cases.


Browse Card System                                                New System

$2.35 Midwest Processing Charge                 No Processing Charge

$1.00 Photocopying charge                            No photo copying Charge

$1.65 Browse Cards                                       No Browse Card Charge

$5.00Total                                                       $1.02 Cost per Lock Box

                                                                        $1.02 Total


Savings:  $5.00 - $1.02 = $3.98 per new DVD purchased.

Based on approximately 1,200 DVDs acquired from Midwest Tapes, Inc. per year, the total savings: $3.98 x 1,200 = $4,776.00; given that we’re no longer doing the photocopying and buying the browse cards, the reduced real savings are:

$2.35 Lock box from Midwet Tapes             $1.02 from Bro-Dart

Savings is $2.35 - $1.02 = $1.33 per DVD case

$1.33 saved per case x 1,200 DVDs = $1,596.00 through June 30, 2015.  This presumes that approximately the same number of DVDs will be purchased from Midwest this fiscal year.


5.      ALA Conference in Las Vegas

This conference was special for me. 

One of my dearest friends, Patricia Glass Schuman, had conferred on her Honorary Membership in the American Library Association.  This is the highest honor ALA can bestow.  She was the rarest of librarians—a successful entrepreneur and a librarian who worked indefatigably to promote libraries, improve ALA as ALA Treasurer and President, served with distinction in innumerable organizational positions, and published prolifically—while simultaneously growing (along with her business partner) their publishing company from nothing to a multimillion dollar business that they eventually sold to ALA Publishing for four million dollars.

It was a wonderful experience me to receive the Lippincott Award and to have the emcee read the glowing citation to an audience of a thousand or more librarians, and more importantly my wife, brother and sister-in-law.

There were a number of exhibits that promoted new and enhanced services for libraries.  I was especially interested in streaming and database services offered by vendors other than the current ones used by the library.  As we move forward we will investigate these alternatives and do our utmost to get the best array of services at the best prices.

Maker spaces was one of the hot topics and a subject of informal discussions

6. Russia

Other than the challenges of traveling on two continents, Europe and Asia, and the attendant jet lag upon return, the trip went extremely well.  The presentations seemed to be very well received. 

On my last full day two members of the Migration office called on me.  It turned out that the strains between Russia and the U.S. produced some harassment that personally affected me.  Under purpose of the trip—as instructed by the company that handled the visa—I put Tourism.  The Migration man told me, if you give lectures you are not a tourist.  He wouldn’t allow me to leave Russia unless I formally admitted that I traveled under the wrong classification and paid a 2000 ruble fine.  Given the exchange rate used by the bank at which I paid the fine, it came to $62.00.  Unfortunately, the whole process, which began almost immediately after my last lecture at the Perm Public Library, took five hours.

As to geography, I learned that the boundary between Asia and Russia is located somewhere in the Urals.  Yekaterinburg is in Asia.  The other thing I learned was that the entire Asian portion of Russia is Siberia.

Everyone was terrific.  An old cataloger at the National Library (in Moscow; there’s also one in St. Petersburg), was so happy with my presentation about Social Responsibility and Cataloging that he kissed me. 

7. Long-Range Plan

I will meet with Alan Burger of Library Development Solutions to set up a timeline for the project and initiate plans for the study.

8. Personnel: Amy Chesman was appointed Children’s Librarian II.  She replaced Arlene Sandner who retired after 28 years of fine dedicated service as a New City Library children’s librarian.

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