Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Library happenings:

o Last year the number of participants’ in the Summer Reading Club (1,550) a 50% increase from the 1,000 or so we saw for each of the previous years. This year we are currently at 1,800 and anticipate having 2,000 to 2,100 before it is all said and done. If there are 2,000 participants it would be about an 80% market penetration of our primary demographic of 1st to 5th graders in Carroll ISD – There aren’t many businesses that see an 80% market penetration.

o June 08 vs. June 07 – Library circulation (checkouts) were up 17% with 31,913 items circulating. Although for the first time in some time the number of people attending Storytimes had dropped a bit the overall programming attendance for the month was up 54%, so in total we were up 29% (that is vs. the 2nd highest programming number for any library of similar size service area in the state last year, which we were last year).

o Community Resource Wiki – We are currently putting a fair number of hours into gathering community information, including phone numbers, addresses, web sites related to just about anything anyone in the community would want: Animal Control, Trash Collection, Charitable organizations, Businesses in town etc… A wiki is kind of like an encyclopedia where one enters in a description of something, and in this case we will enter contact info. Most wiki’s allow the users to update the entries themselves, in our case we will have a number of boxes that people can fill in so we can get comments – i.e… the phone number or website no longer works or whatever else they may desire to tell us. One of the advantages of the wiki format is that the data entry is easy to do and it indexes all the entries so all someone would have to is put “trash” in the search bar and it will pull up everything that has that word in an entry. We will place this on our webpage so it will be available for anyone in the community to access 24/7. It will be a great resource and we will just continue to add to it and update it.

o E-mail addresses. We are placing a form on the library webpage for people to give us their e-mail address and indicate areas of interest so we can e-mail them with upcoming programs, new books, the newsletter etc…. We cannot simply take the e-mails from our customer account database and send information to them without their permission – we don’t want to SPAM anyone. Staff in the library will begin asking customers for their e-mail addresses and directing them to the website. The form will be up by the time we have our July Library Board meeting (7/23).

o We keep close track of Library performance and worker productivity, and have by far the most productive library staff in the metro area, if not the state. We handle on average a task every three minutes or so (22 tasks per hour) – our firm belief is that we will give the taxpayers maximum effort. The high productivity also means that we have to be driven by priorities – we don’t have time to burn or important things just don’t get done; therefore when a new priority gets dropped into the mix another priority has to get moved down the list. We keep a tight lid on our priorities and follow up to make sure we are where we need to be and work hard to keep staff as productive as possible, without chasing staff away it can be a tough line to walk at times, but we have not had any turnover in fulltime staff in five years, even though we ask a lot. When giving a tour of the library to a prospective part time employee a couple of years back, staff overheard them say – “I would like to work in a library because the pace is slower and I can stay up with my reading” – staff was very clear that this person was sadly mistaken and we should never hire anyone who is not prepared to work hard (they were not hired). Kind of nice when staff buys into our central philosophy which is: 1. Work hard (no one should go home rested) 2. Work smart (focus on organizational priorities) 3. Provide superior service and be driven by satisfying customer needs 4. Utilize limited resources to provide for the broader community (fiscal discipline – we fight every vendor for every dollar we can get) 5. Focus on using volunteers – we utilize volunteers for mission critical tasks to the tune of about 300 hours per month. We have high expectations for staff – which does not agree with every staff member all the time. A tough line to walk at times as stated above, but we can’t provide the great service that we do if the vast majority of staff does not like their situation and is not empowered which is very important (yearly staff surveys of library management performance also show that to be the case). We feel it is necessary to have those expectations so we can serve to the best of our ability and as effectively as possible, creating the highest return on investment possible for the citizens of Southlake.

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