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Director’s Report to the Board of Trustees for August
I am happy with the New City Library staff. The community of New City cardholders is especially blessed with the library workers who comprise the staff. The late Father Timothy S. Healy, a Jesuit priest who was President of The New York Public Library, made a remark that applies in no uncertain terms to the people who work in the New City Library. He said that the most valuable resource among all of the riches of The Library disappeared at the close of business each day, the staff of The New York Public Library.
There are great collections of books, AV materials, recordings, and other library materials that in total make the New City Library a terrific library. But as with NYPL, when the day is over, your library's greatest resource, the staff of the New City Library, goes home.
Having worked with them for close to three months as of this writing, I am proud to be associated with this group of people who are committed to excellence and service to the library's patrons, and doing their jobs as best they can.
It has been especially gratifying that the staff is open to change, is willing to contribute their ideas and suggestions, and is sufficiently comfortable with the administration to be candid regarding the proposals.
It’s a good feeling to come to the library every day and to greet and be greeted by the staff.
We are in the process of soliciting bids to address a variety of matters that have been discussed in my prior reports. We are happy at the progress that has been made. If it is not possible to get the proposals to the Building and Personnel and Finance committees for them to report out to the full Board for the August meeting, we will endeavor to get them to the committees for their recommendations for the September Board meeting.
1. The Book Collection
The professional staff has embarked on a major book weeding effort. There are areas of the shelving that are so overcrowded that the pages must shift two or three rows of books just to shelve one book on a given shelf. "Dusty Shelf" reports have been distributed to all of the collection development staff. The name dusty shelf comes from the idea of books gathering dust because no one takes them out any more. At present an effort is underway to withdraw from the collection all items that have not circulated in four or five years--depending on which category of materials is involved.
The overcrowded shelves are a serious problem not just because the pages have a tough time shelving returned items into tight or filled shelves, but because they serve as a deterrent to the user who is browsing with no specific title in mind. Studies have been done that have demonstrated that books on a shelf that has room for a display book at the end of that shelf are more likely to be selected by the browser. Tight or overcrowded shelves serve as a deterrent and are a turn-off to the user who is simply browsing for a good book to read.
In addition to the items that have not circulated, the weeding process enables the librarian to withdraw those volumes that are beat-up, stained, have broken bindings, and overall are no longer fit for the collection. If the individual book has been circulating or special value to the New City Library collection, the librarian will order a new copy of it and discard the distressed volume.
Susan Telesca, head of technical services, has made arrangements with Better World Books, a company that provides the cartons and comes every week to pick up the books discarded by the library. New City needs the weekly pick-ups because technical services has minimal storage room for the boxes of discarded books. A note of thanks is extended to Matt Ciuccio a former New City Library employee who is head of the Nyack Library's technical services; he's the person who connected Susan with the company and provided useful advice. [Note: Better World Books is a self-sustaining, for-profit social venture whose mission is to capitalize on the value of the book to fund literacy initiatives locally, nationally and around the world. Better World Books partners with nearly 3,100 libraries and over 1800 college campuses across the U.S. and Canada, collecting unwanted textbooks and library discards in support of non-profit literacy programs.]
The weeding process is slow, but the benefits will be great. The shelves will be more attractive and enticing to users, and the pages will not be subject to the extra labor and wasted time that characterize the current situation in some of the collection areas.
I am pleased by the attitude of Marianne Silver and the collection development staff who have taken on this less than glamorous task but one that we all know will improve service to the New City Library patrons.
2. The Audiovisual Grant
The extension of the completion date for the audiovisual grant has provided the library with an additional year of time to complete the work described in the grant application. [Note: The expenditure of funds and the work specified in the grant application must be completed by June 30, 2014, thanks to the extension granted by the Ramapo County Library System and New York State Division of Library Development.]Meetings have been held with the architect, key library staff, and trustees to develop the specifics of a plan to move the DVDs and CDs to the first floor and make the numerous adjustments on the first floor and downstairs that are triggered by that move.
Plans are proceeding. There has been especially good progress made for the relocation of DVDs, CDs, and games to the Children's Room. A great number of specifics have been suggested and which need to be firmed up. But it is much clearer what should be moved and stored where, and what benefits will be derived from the work.
At some point the Building Committee and the Personnel and Finance Committee will have to meet to review the plans, raise questions, and, one trusts, endorse the proposals and forward them to the full Board with their recommendation for approval. We are grateful to Trustee George Jacobson who attended the last two meetings and Trustee Anthony Feliciano who attended one or more previous meetings.
This work on the grant is moving along nicely.
3. New Telephone System
Barbara Dubois, Executive Assistant; Jim Collins, Business Manager; Susan Ball, Library Assistant I (Technical Services) who usually answers calls to the library; and I met with Paul Zimmerman, a representative from Eastern Datacomm, the company recommended to the library by Tony Castaldo, IT manager at RCLS. RCLS is using the Shore-Tel phone system, the one marketed by Eastern Datacomm, and the one which we are looking at closely. RCLS gave Eastern Datacomm and Shore-Tel strong recommendations.
Having the functionality of the phone system demonstrated to us was like being transported to a shiny new world. The current library telephone system which is over 20 years old seemed like the equivalent of a horse and buggy by comparison to this feature-laden 21st century achievement.
Depending on timing, the new phone system proposal will be presented to the Building Committee and the Personnel and Finance Committee, prior to the Board meeting.
4. Electric Sliding Doors in the Front of the Library
Thanks to someone at the last meeting who suggested that we get a proposal to replace the doors rather than repair and update them, and to George Jacobson, who met with me after the AV Grant meeting. We had a vendor come to the library to offer a proposal to replace the two problematic sliding doors with a single sliding door. A single door was the kind that Jim Collins and I saw work quite well at the Suffern Free Library.
A point that George made was that we shouldn't repeat what occurred with the library boiler--fixing it and then having to replace it anyway. Sadly, we spent two-thirds of the price of a new boiler to get the old one repaired. Which is why we are recommending that the electric sliding doors be replaced rather than repaired—thanks to George Jacobson.
If possible, the proposal will be brought to the two committees in August.
5. Shades in the Children's Room and the Circulation Department Work Room
Bids are being submitted for the replacement of the curtains in the Children's Department and the Circulation Department Work Room. Currently they are shabby, dust collectors, and do not hang properly. Janet Makoujy is soliciting quotes. We hope to present these quotes with our recommendation to the Building Committee and the Personnel and Finance Committee this month. Note it will be proposed that the curtains will be replaced with UV filtering roller shades.
6. Sound and Video System for the Meeting Room
We met with Metro Sound Pros (MSP) of Washingtonville, NY. We requested a proposal for MSP to provide a complete audiovisual system for the meeting room that would meet the library's current and prospective needs. The MSP representative, Leo Garrison, spent a lot of time examining the meeting room and the sound booth at the rear of the auditorium. He will propose a system that will permit movies to be shown from DVDs in high definition, i.e. that will have adequate light on the screen and high resolution of the image, which will combine to produce a viewing experience superior to that of what is being used now. He also will propose a sound system that will project quality sound throughout the room, plus appropriate controls.
Once we have MSP's proposal we will present it to the Building Committee and the Personnel and Finance Committee committees.
7. Videoconference Equipment
Veronica Reynolds has worked closely with Tony Castaldo of RCLS to switch the library over to teleconferencing in the conference room using the library's white board instead of the antiquated television used in the past. On August 1st, she and Tony successfully tested the new teleconferencing arrangement. The old camera and microphone are still being used with less than perfect results, but Rockland's public library directors will now have the expanse of the white board for the RCLS projected images.
As of this writing, the accounting firm, KRPJ (Korn Rosenblum LLP), is auditing the financial records for fiscal year 2012-2013.
Attached please find my lists of visits and meetings attended for the month of July, 2013. As before, I do not list informal meetings with members of the staff.
Maurice J. Freedman
New City Library
August 5, 2013
Director Meetings and Visits, July 2013
July 1-2: July portion of attendance at American Library Association Conference, Chicago, IL
July 8: Meeting at Degensheim Architects (Jan Degensheim and Marcie Weisberg) regarding State audiovisual grant
July 15: Meeting with Joan Rosen, Nyack Library staff
July 16: Dave Kingsburg (expert on library furniture, shelving, storage media), President, Creative Library Concepts, regarding the State audiovisual grant
Building Committee, plus Department Heads, and Jim Collins
July 18: Tom Ninan, President, New City Library Board
Gail Seidenfrau, Supervisor of Circulation Services
Karen Vetrano, President, and Nancy Moskowitz, Vice-President, Library Staff Association, Jim Collins, Business Manager
July 19: Administrative Meeting (New City Library exempt staff)
Marianne Silver, Department Supervisor of Adult Reference
Meeting with the Department Supervisor of Children’s Department, Janet Makoujy
July 22: Tony Castaldo, IT Manager, RCLS, Jim Collins regarding phone system and meeting room teleconference equipment
July 23: Leo Garrison, Metro Sound Pros, regarding audio and sound system for the meeting room
July 24: Amy Small, Public Relations Consultant, Karen Vetrano, Janice Paley
July 25: Paul Zimmerman, Eastern Datacomm, and Jim Collins, Barbara Dubois, Susan Ball regarding a new phone system
July 26: Visited Suffern Library w/ Jim Collins to see sliding glass doors, AV shelving, etc.
July 30: Meeting with Jan Degenshein and Marcie Weisberg, Degenshein Architects; Department Heads, Building Committee, and Trustee George Jacobson
July 31: Meeting with Stephen Force, Director, Yonkers Public Library