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System Director’s Report

January 2009

(This is a quasi-“System Director’s” report.  Phyllis is under the weather, so I’m guest writing the report this month – Stef)
Every other month, staff from all three SCLS departments get together for a joint meeting.  There are usually 20 or so people around the table, and we always have the same basic agenda:  we have a topic for discussion, we share information about what we’re working on, and then we have the “question of the day”. 

The “question of the day” was designed to help us get to know one another.  We’re in three separate physical spaces, and we don’t have the daily interactions that help to develop relationships.  Some “questions of the day” in the past have been favorite childhood books, first concert, and Thanksgiving memories, and the discussion around the question usually includes lots of laughing and silliness.
Staff members were a little surprised when the January “question of the day” took a more reflective tone – “What did you accomplish in 2008 that you are most proud of?”   After a few seconds of silence, the staff had no problem thinking of things to share:

  • There were 35,000 sessions on the wireless internet access system SCLS has deployed in 32 libraries, an average of 312 sessions per day (not including Sundays).  This number is more impressive when you consider that most of these systems are installed in our small, rural libraries.  This number does not include any Madison libraries. 
  • We made the decision to go with an open source ILS.  A lot of work went into this decision: researching the Koha product to determine if it was a viable option, organizing vendor demos, coordinating member library feedback and committees, and much more.
  • Delivery was proud of the changes they made to their route structure.  These changes allowed them to contain costs in the face of rising fuel costs and every increasing volume.
  • SCLS staff visited almost every one of our 52 libraries this year.  The staff involved in this project learned a lot by doing it, and the libraries were happy to have the opportunity to host a visit and share with us. 
  • This year’s Wisconsin Library Association was a huge success, and couldn’t have happened without the hard work of SCLS staff members.  A number of SCLS staff served in various roles on the conference committee.
  • More and more libraries are using the Summer Library Program Video.  In 2008, 29 libraries requested 100 copies of the recording to use in school visits.
  • New web pages and bookmarks were made to create a subject-oriented guide to our databases, making it easier for patrons to find information in these often under-utilized resources.
  • The Foundation Newsletter was created, and the Trustee Newsletter continued.
  • The Technology Planning Process began, gathering feedback from our member libraries through surveys and focus groups, and determining some additional processes to improve our technology decision-making and services.
  • Member libraries can now get many of the reports from the LINK system electronically, saving them time (and us paper!) and making the reports more flexible and usable.
  • A new way of deploying updates to over 700 PCs on the LINK network has allowed Automation staff to provide more up-to-date software quicker and with less staff time.
  • Pre-overdue notices were introduced, and have been a big hit with patrons.
  • Sun Prairie will be the first member library to convert to RFID, and, with LSTA funds, Automation staff created a cart for them to use to create the RFID tags for each item in their collection.
  • The SCLS staff began using Google Calendar, greatly improving efficiency by allowing us to easily schedule meetings with colleagues in all three locations.
  • We began the search for a new facility, possibly one that will combine our Automation and Administration Departments.

...and these are only a few of the things that happened in 2008. 735 people from member libraries attended our 45 continuing education programs.  We filled around 1,100 requests for promotional materials and other graphics requests.  23,000 children participated in the Summer Library Program in the member libraries.   11.7 million items were checked out in the LINK system.  10.7 million items traveled through our Delivery service,  being dropped on nearly 34,000 stops over a distance of 373,000 miles (almost 15 times the distance around the Earth at the equator!!).    We’ve been pretty busy!

When it was my turn to answer the “question of the day”, I had to admit that, as an administrator, I don’t think of the things I do as “accomplishments” to necessarily be proud of.  I view myself as an “enabler” – creating an environment to help our staff succeed.  But one of the joys of being an administrator is watching what’s happening here at SCLS and feeling an immense amount of collective pride.  I am proud of everything the talented people working here have accomplished in 2008.  We have an amazing, dedicated staff, and I look forward to seeing what we accomplish in 2009.  Phyllis will be sharing more about our 2009 goals in her next System Director’s report.
Thanks for listening,

Stef