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Director’s Report to the Board of Trustees for July

Summary statement

It was a good month.  I continue to enjoy working at the New City Library.  The staff have been wonderful partners who do their utmost to serve the patrons of the Library.  There have been speed bumps here and there, but overall I still enjoy the opportunity to work with the staff and the Board to maintain and improve the quality of library collections, services, and facilities.  I have been especially happy to enjoy the benefits of staff cooperation and board support.

I identified a number of areas that needed to be addressed.  Not surprisingly they cannot all be addressed at once.  Following is a progress report plus anything new that has come up.

Click here to read the full report.



Previous initiatives 

Union Contract

The union contract was approved by the Board of Trustees at the June Board Meeting.  This completion of a process means that work must begin on the negotiation of a new union contract.

Building survey Proposals

Jim Collins, Business Manager, has met with several vendors and solicited proposals from them to do a thorough survey of the New City Library building including the HVAC system.  We already know that at least one of the two roofs must be repaired, but it is critical as we move forward to know how the condition of the physical plant and what will need remediation. 

The Library building committee will have met subsequent to the writing of this report.  Presumably it will make a recommendation to the Board regarding the best proposal overall, taking into account the price, the propoed work to be done, references, and other considerations.

State AV (Audiovisual) Grant Project

The work on this grant is moving forward.  An initial draft layout of the proposed changes to the first floor, basement, and Children’s Room spaces are under review.  They are only a first draft, but it is especially valuable in that it gives the staff and the building committee a more tangible understanding of the directions in which things should proceed.

Reader Beware: the following portion of the report goes into extensive detail especially about the storage and circulation of AV materials. 

American Library Association Annual Convention: Furniture, AV Storage and
AV Circulation

I attended the ALA Convention in Chicago,  June 28 – July 2, 2013.  My main focus was twofold.  First I looked at the offerings of the numerous furniture manufacturers that had “booths”[1].  I brought a great deal of literature back with me and have given it to Degensheim Architects, the firm New City Library has engaged to do the design of the space, assist with the selection of furniture, and provide support and recommendations in the areas that have to be addressed to complete the work.

In addition to the literature, I took numerous photos of the furniture exhibited by the given vendors.  I have made them available to Degensheim as well.

The Circulation System and AV Materials:

One objective of the project is to find a different and substantially less labor intensive—especially for the cardholders—process for selecting and circulating DVDs, CDs, and games.  3M has a security process that places theft detection strips (they work in conjunction with the two gates at the exit door) on the actual DVDs, CDs, and game discs.  Unlike the ones New City tried before these strips will not jam in disc players.  One of the reasons for the cumbersome process used today at New City Library is that the last strips used did jam the disk players.  We know that these strips are being used successfully for security purposes at many libraries. 

It also is true that there are numerous libraries using the system employed in New City, i.e. people browse surrogates for the DVD box and DVD, i.e. photocopies of the DVD cases’ front and back art work are laminated onto cardboard and placed in the bins for browsing purposes. Patrons then make their selections from those browser cards, bring them to the desk for the clerk to retrieve the requested case and enclosed DVD.  It then has to be charged to the patron at the AV circulation desk—cards, DVDs, and the AV circulation desk with its two PC charging machines—where the clerk charges the retrieved item(s) to the patron.  Note that AV items must be charged out in the basement and cannot be charged at the first-floor circulation desk.

If after study, the 3M security strips will provide the effective security implied by their name, the whole process of photocopying the art work on the DVD case, creating the browsing cards, and requiring circulation clerks to retrieve the DVDs from the closed storage stacks will be eliminated… including the need for closed storage stacks.

If the projected process is implemented, the patrons will browse the DVDs, select whichever ones they want, and bring them to the circulation desk to be charged out to them.  This process presumes that the AV Project will relocate all or much of the basement media to the first floor and that all of the media will be directly accessible to the patrons.

This projected plan comes under the heading of “we’ll see”.  There is much we must study and learn prior to implementing such a process.  My hope is that the proposed use of the 3M strips will provide sufficient security, i.e. the alarm will go off (as it does now) for the uncharged AV materials just as it does with uncharged books.

New Equipment Needed for AV Materials:

There are numerous shelving vendors that provide user-friendly storage of AV materials.  Some or all of the materials are stored in pull-out drawers that promote browsing because the DVDs are stacked with their front covers facing out.

Eisenhower Public Library District (Harwood Heights, IL):

Ron Stoch, Director of Eisenhower, toured me through the library’s five-year old building.  Of special interest was their storage of DVDs, special furniture for presentation of new books or other topical displays (somewhat akin to the island displays on the main floor of the Jamaica Branch of the Queens Library.  I also visited the primary furniture vendor used by Eisenhower, Agati, and saw the various types of furniture that were used. 

I have provided to Degenheim, the extensive photos I took of the Agati furniture that I took when visiting their showroom and offices, and a comprehensive set of photos of the furnishings in Eisenhower.

Other Storage of AV:

There are a few companies that provide large metal enclosures in which DVDs are stored and from which they are charged and circulated.  This storage and circulation is less cumbersome than the current process, but still requires a significant amount of labor, but it is quite efficient for circulating DVDs when everything works properly.  One can see an example of such units at the Nyack Library which has used them for years.  The circulation staff has to feed the DVDs into the machine one at a time.  The user browses the empty case, brings it to the machine which has a self-charging unit built into it, and has the barcode scanned by the unit.  The machine whirs and then ejects the requested DVD.  (The barcodes on the DVD and the case are identical).  These machines hold from 400 to 1200 or more DVDs, depending on the size selected, and of course, the budget.


Quiet Area and Tutors

Marianne Silver established a “silent area” on the main floor almost immediately after the discussion and decision to have it.  So far there have been no complaints received.  The use of silent areas and their location will be included in the layouts considered as part of the AV Grant Project.

Full AV for meeting room

One firm has been contacted, but a meeting has not yet been scheduled.  We will invite at least two other firms to review the current meeting room facility and propose possible video and sound systems

New Phone System – complaint & problems to change the phone message

There is apparently much to be studied as part of this.  Things would have been considerably simpler if the vendor (Cornerstone) bringing access to the current system (Avaya) used by New City Library had been Lightpath, but it is not.

Much more information will be necessary before any recommendation can be made to the building committee.

In the meantime, one big problem was solved.  Irate patrons complained—with good reason—that the phone system message regarding the hours that the Library is open was wrong; it was not the summer message.  Since no one on the staff knew how to change it, Jim Collins, the Business Manager, did the research and made the calls.  Now the correct summer hours are presented to users who call the New City Library.  Part of the problem is that the current phone system is clunky and hard to use, the challenge of changing a message is an outstanding example of its problematic nature.

Flat Panel LCDs

The urgent issue was getting the screen behind the circulation desk to deliver the required messages… accurately.  We did not want the display to inform Library patrons of the daily temperature and weather for the Scottsdale AZ airport.  Karen Ostertag is to be credited with getting 3M to fix the problem.  The TV is now delivering the messages that the Library intended.

Other acquisition and deployment of LCD flat panel TVs will be looked at in the near future, but that’s it for now.

Updating the Children’s Room

Ms. Janet Makoujy, the head of the Children’s Department, is reviewing numerous matters concerning the Children’s Room.  Separating the juvenile AV materials from the rest of the AV collection, and then moving and housing them in the Children’s Room are part of the AV project planning. 

Ms. Makoujy also visited two libraries which were adorned by murals by the same artist
--at my suggestion.  Adding a mural to the Children’s Room is something that is being looked at.  Where it should be located and what its subject should be are part of those considerations.


New Initiatives (and Old Problems)

Automatic/Sliding Glass Doors: Update and upgrade the sliding glass Doors – see proposal from MacKenzie Automatic Doors.  With parts and labor $7,021.00.

The sliding glass doors act up to0 frequently to be considered good service.  The company that provided them gave the Library a proposal for updating and upgrading them.  Jim Collins and I have recommended to the building committee that the proposal be accepted and that the Library sign-off on engaging the firm.

Meetings attended

I will not include in the list my meetings with staff except for special reason.  There are formal meetings, but we talk informally, i.e. unscheduled, and deal with matters of substance at such times, as well as “hello, how are you doing?”

May 14: Building Committee

May 22: Stephen Force, Director, Yonkers Public Library

May 23: Building Committee, Degensheim Architects (Jan Degensheim and Marcie Weisberg), and New City Library AV Grant Planning Committee

May 24: Administrative Staff Meeting

May 28: Public reception for new Interim Library Director

May 29 – June 2: Speaker and Guest at Canadian Library Association Annual Meeting, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

June 6: Library Staff Association Representatives (Karen Vetrano and Nancy Moskowitz) and Jim Collins, Library Business Manager

June 10: Meeting with Scott Albrecht, New City Library Attorney, and selected staff

June 11: Court Hearing at Town Court

June 17: Personnel and Finance Committee, plus Jim Collins

June 18: Rockland County [Library] Directors Association, at Pearl River Library

June 19: Tom Ninan, President, New City Library Board

June 20: Dave Wemmer, Accountant, and Jim Collins

June 21: Administrative Staff Meeting

June 21: Interview with Cheryl Slavin, Reporter, Rockland County Times

June 28 – July 2: American Library Association Annual Convention, numerous vendors on the exhibits floor, library professionals from around the world, and visits to the Harold Washington Center of the Chicago Public Library and the Eisenhower Public Library District

July 3: Meeting to share citizen concerns initiated by Harry Bloomfield (former trustee) and also included John Krenitsky (former President), Jim Cropsey (concerned citizen), Barry Schoenhaut (former President), and current Trustee Victor Burger

July 10: Meeting with Parish Property Management [review of building] and Jim Collins

July 11: Meeting with Tom Ninan




[1] Some of the “booths” had spaces that appeared to be as larger or  larger than 1,000 square feet.


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