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System Director’s Report:

October 2008

In the past two weeks I responded to two media contacts requesting statistics about rising use in area libraries during these tough economic times. A number of our libraries are showing higher than 6% increases in circulation over last year, and other measures of use might be even higher.  Library budgets at the municipal and county level are still being decided for some, but most already know that they will be working with lean 2009 budgets as their use grows. At least one of our libraries is still fighting for a budget that meets the basic maintenance of effort level required to maintain System membership.

The budget shortfalls our libraries are experiencing are reflective of a national problem. Included in your packet this month is a copy of a press release from the American Library Association that makes a good case for increased Federal funding to public libraries as an effective method of stimulating the economy. Through our visits to libraries this fall, SCLS staff have seen firsthand what bustling and vibrant centers of the community our libraries are. We will be watching the results of the library referenda at Cottage Grove and Fitchburg to see if we will soon have two more libraries.

The Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in Middleton next week will be the culmination of a long, sustained effort by a number of SCLS staff and other area library people, coordinated by Cheryl Becker. The conference is always a good time to learn and connect, but this year’s event looks especially good. I hope we will see some of you there.

Our mission - to help our member libraries provide the best possible service to the public – is expressed in a single sentence, but understanding the needs of each of our member libraries and planning responsive services is never simple. There was a good discussion of how best to balance cost and service concerns at the October Delivery Advisory Committee meeting. The group also talked about alternatives to be considered if volume gets so high that neither the libraries nor the delivery system can handle it. Yesterday was the first meeting of the contract committee for the new integrated library system, and the group focusing on functionality and development for the Koha product meets on Monday.  Our technology planning process and facilities search are also moving along, so we will have a lot to tell you about when we meet.

For action at the November meeting, the by-laws are back in your packet this month with an additional change in Article IX – Meetings, Section 3-Conduct of Meetings (d).

I’ll see you on the 10th.