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What Are We Going to Stop Doing

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago



Email of 4-9-08 from sms: Seven of us gathered to talk about PLA at noon today. There were several themes that came up in sessions that Kathy and I attended. Several things are coming out of this meeting:
1. We need to decide what we are going to stop doing: I think all of us have too much to do. I came back excited about new perspectives, but we can't keep adding new projects. We have to stop some old ones. What are we doing to stop doing?
Can people meeting Monday of next week at lunch time to talk about this? If you're scheduled to work, talk with your supervisor about coming or a schedule change. We create synergy while hearing each other.
We all know that people learn in different ways, so different ways to discuss issues is a good idea. I will put a discussion page on the wiki (that's this), and we'll talk too.
I suggest you add your suggestions to this page and label them or not as you wish. Experiment with the format possibilities above.
(JB) Overall, consider what we do, what we have already stopped doing, and where we can continue streamlining and discontinuing. We do need to acknowledge that we are not totally entrenched: we are willing to change and our past decisions demonstrate that.
Programs and services are a major community support and enhancement.
Appropriate and adequate training in whatever we decide to pursue.
Maybe I'm moving ahead, but I think it's important to say "if this is important enough to continue, what is the BEST WAY to do it?"
Things we do in Children's (JB)

School year programs. Preschool storytimes, family storytimes: mornings & afternoons. Family Game Night.

Summer programs. S@Parks, S@Library, daily events, PR visits
Planning time: choosing themes, pulling books, craft selection & prep, flyers & PR
Volunteers: Flannel boards, decorations, bulletin boards, craft preparation
Info Station.
Collection development / maintenance. Weeding, inventory, selection, ordering. Standing orders?
Collection presentation. What the room looks like, height of shelves, seating, non-book resources available.
Consideration of What do our patrons WANT from a Children's Library?
Things we're currently changing:
Monday movies discontinued. Thursday afternoon storytimes discontinued after April.
Stories @ the Parks streamlined.
other things we have already stopped as a library: Shelf list maintenance; tracking "special" funds for ordering; not typing order cards - online ordering now; stopped shelving E's, E-L's & E-R's in precise order (SNS-My understanding is that this has been reversed since it actually was more trouble overall, or at least Joanna is trying to put things in precise order) ; calling all holds (SNS-We are still calling all holds unless they don't have a phone number in their record.) ; mailing all overdue notices; not as much repair as in past; revised fee & fine structure for more intuitive and patron friendly charges.

more things to consider stopping/changing:

Other programming:
Adult events. focus on promoting databases and resources. Let others do the development of programs, provide space & equipment. Partnering can apply to Outreach, too. Some Friends are already interested in doing a Book for Babies giveaway, giving gift certificates to new teachers.


Shelf ready materials. How much would it cost to have more come to us ready to get out for customers.

SNS: Not that much, but it would require some major work to implement. We'd be the first library in the state to do this, I believe. There would be some technical issues and other issues at the state level to overcome. Also, we'd have to dump the numerical cutters to do this. No vendor will do them as we have them.

(these two are more do it a different way than done now)

Cutter numbers (especially in non-fiction). Most other public libraries and all school libraries in town no longer use cutters. School librarians have commented that children are confused by cutter system, adults certainly are.

Sets & series. Keep series together. for example: Series that are done by different authors like fictional diaries, or non-fiction encyclopedic sets for states, animals, etc.

Reference triage. We tried having one desk, and I was not satisfied with the quality of customer service provided regarding helping patrons find what they needed. We need people who have time and ability to help track down more in depth info. I like the Info Station separated, but maybe we need to consider how to have adequate training for staff to give them greater depth/ability to answer questions while having Reference Librarians on hand for stumpers.

ILL - what is the cost of mailing? Does it make more sense to use that money to order books for our collection? My understanding is that our patrons request lots of ILL's, not necessarily that outside people request so much from our collection.


SNS: The issue with this is that the automated ILL system works quite smoothly to get the patron the item promptly. If we decided to go to a system where we reviewed all requests for purchase first, that would be a bottleneck, and an extra task. Another alternative would be to do this only for items that get stuck and are not provided in the automatic routine. However, many of these would be obscure items that we might not want to buy. However, if we just spent more money on our collection, we'd probably have more of these items in the first place, cutting down on ILL needs.

SMS:  Buy inexpensive ILL's if caught at the desk before going into VDX.

How can we actually USE Prospector database? We can search, but can't request items. They have a courier delivery system. UW already is on their route. Would that have to be handled through the State Library, could we partner with UW somehow?

SNS: Why would we use this rather than OCLC? This is the Colorado/Academic equivalent of WYLD, I believe.

SMS:  We can ask if we can be included in the courier.


Readers' Advisory: How do we use a "new books" feature, like what Ruth has on the Teen Page, more effectively for Readers' Advisory? How can we use WyldCat more effectively for same, nonfiction especially. Novelist has already been mentioned for fiction. (end JB)

Things we do in Adult Services (separate list for Young Adult and Older Adult Services) - KM
Movie series
book discussion groups
Writers Speak and other public readings
collaborative events with community groups (Garden Club, house history group, AC Genealogy Society, etc.)
adult summer reading (already pretty minimal with this!)
soon: info booth at Rec Center health fairs
Info Station
Info Station training
supervising volunteers and ASPs
Collection development / maintenance. Weeding, inventory, selection, ordering
To discontinue/reevaluate:
Movies: we are doing only a special series during Jubilee Days this summer. If we get an e-mail contact list up and running, this may be worth trying again, though, as Laramie County has great success with their movies.
book groups: not highly attended, but they don't take a lot of effort, either.
Generally, thinking of going where audience is, rather than trying to get audience here.
If we had more materials funds, I would definitely get onto more standing order lists, especially for non-fiction.
*****Ideas from meeting on Monday April 14, 2008***{JP and sms} (bjm in blue)**
- Save cataloguing time by doing away with Cutter Numbers. Use author's last name alone. School librarians report it confuses students. .
-- (SNS) I've suggested this a few times before. We would just have to address exactly how this would be handled in terms of shelving etc.. Redoing all older books is not a viable option (since it would take years of work), so we'd need to do something like Denver PL did, where they left items as is, and learned to shelve around that, and let the older items slowly drop out of the collection through weeding etc.

JB: Not only did Denver PL switch to names, they also stopped extending dewey numbers to the "nth" degree. It was pretty nice. At the branches in my cluster we DID go through and switch all of our Fiction from cutter to names, but we did it ONLY with volunteers. It took over a year, and our collection was smaller than the one here. The volunteers changed the labels on books, and we had some very database savvy people who were trusted to make the call number changes in the database. My recollection is that we used the entire last name, didn't limit it to 3 or 5 letters.

- Having files in several different places isn't efficient (i.e. filing cabinets, wiki, and public drive all simultaneously)--can't find them. Verify what the retention schedule says we need in paper and what we can keep electronically. Define who uses what files, what needs to be shared, what is maintained individually. Admin needs privacy/control over some electronic files. Many people do not like/are not comfortable with the Wiki. I think it's best used for training purposes.
sms:  I don't think the retention schedules care about the format.  Are people aware of the list of files in the staff room?  That's saved me time. 
- Making bookmarks that just clutter the desk anyways. Possibly have one 'master' bookmark.
- Advertising in general is becoming cumbersome and not effective. Mass e-mails may become our new means of distributing information about library events.
- Calling holds seems like a primitive way of notifying patrons.
-- (SNS) The problem with this is that there isn't a less primitive way to reach all unless we required email addresses for all patrons. One alternative would be to mail notices for those without emails. I've explored other ways of handling the reports etc. for this with Marc and we can look at it some more, but we can't just do email unless we mandate that patrons have that in order for them to receive notices.
--Also, the entire hold process could be improved, i.e. patrons pick up their holds in a public area instead of behind the Circ desk.
--- (SNS) I've been looking at this. There are a couple of major issues that would have to be addressed:
  • Patron privacy. What info goes on the items that go out there.
* Loss of other library's items. What do we do if/when someone steals another library's item off the shelf?
--Can we email ILL notifications? Where do the bounce backs go?
--- (SNS) Bouncebacks come to me for library notices.
--Decrease the size of the reference collection by integrating into the regular collection or w/drawing.
--- (SNS) While probably not a bad idea in general, wouldn't this be more work, not less? (JB) guess it depends on if we re-locate or withdraw. An awful lot is dated & available other places. We should look at what we can get rid of to start.
SMs:  We need the space reducing it would provide.
--Decrease the number of books marks at the desk. Give out a single book mark with all charges. We don't know if they're effective or not.
---(SNS) We already committed some time ago to one bookmark. That's just not happened unfortunately.
SMS:  Why hasn't this happened?
--Eliminate CLUTTER! Especially at the desk.
--Is there a way to record phone messges once and not twice for open and closed?
--Do we need to post acitivites on three different web calendars?
--- (SNS) I thought we already took care of this with Happy Jack? What are the two others? (JB) there's the entry for staff on HJ, then copying to the website. I'm not sure what the 3rd calendar is?
SMS: Marjorie is posting library events  on trourism and chamber calendars I believe.  
--Should staff be working only when we're open? note: this question arose when we were considering saving money on lighting, air conditioning Administrative staff need to make calls and arrange meetings according to regular business hours and do not necessarily need to be here when patrons are. They often need quiet, thinking time which is easier when fewer people are in the building, but some adjustments might be made.
--Shelving when we're closed is faster and more efficient. see above explanation, too
SMS: Does every light in the place need to be on though?
--Can we use receipt printers more to provide program information?
--We are each other's patrons; it as as important for us to have computers to do our work as it is for the public. We talked about possible actions if a machine is down including using Mozilla for favorites. Chris will share info.
--- (SNS) perhaps a better way of sharing bookmarks would be del.icio.us. This is like a wiki for links. A lot of other libraries are using this for reference staff.
--Have only one typewriter on a service contract--can we remove the typewriter at circ? I use that typewriter some for lable typing or reports. We could take it off of the service contract and move it to the staff room to use until it dies.
sms: I'm reducing the service contracts by one.
--Can we collect stats more efficiently and effectively by using sample weeks?
*- Big pages posted in the staff room where people can write what they/their departments do. We may post large sticky notes around that will give staff a friendly means of communicating any ideas they want to share about how things could be run more efficiently and effectively. Sometimes an outsider's eye is clearer than an insider's.



Things to stop doing (SNS):

  • Stop editing of call numbers etc. (edits that require the physical item be changed) unless it is an outright mistake (wrong dewey, wrong cutter etc.)
    • Denver PL has this policy.
    • This would save TS time, and also save the time other staff are spending pulling these items.
    • Examples of this are where we used to put biographies of actors in the 700s, but now they go under B. I think there's little/no evidence that changing these has made an impact on patron access, particularly since they items left in the old place are mostly low-interest, older items.
    • Items would not be pulled and taken out of circulation, so would continue to be available for patron checkout without interruption.
    • Items that would be edited will drop out of the collection in time with healthy weeding.
  • Stop staffing programs that do not consistently draw double-figure attendence
    • I think pretty much any program is going to take at the very least an hour of staff time to do and an hour to prepare. Over the course of many programs, that's a lot of time/money.
    • When we went to the Gates conference in SLC, one of the things they discussed was the OCLC survey of library patrons, which showed that basically what is expected of libraries is "traditional", transactional library services, plus computers.
    • Consider getting volunteers to run programs
      • Get a good volunteer to run a program, provide them with resources, get out of their way, and have them report back on results.
        • (JB) I have always liked the thought of having volunteers runs programs. As discussed at our Wednesday meeting, a logical source for reliable volunteers would be the Friends. After reliability is established we could "get out of their way" but library standards must be met - we don't want an inferior program associated with the library.
        • I admit I am cautious, as I have been burned on several occasions by groups who "need to do some community service" and have agreed to run something only to back out; or, a program presented by a local children's group that was not age appropriate.  I like Stephen's examples.
        • Example: Could the Film Society people run any film programs that would occur in the library? Could a UW student be found to run gaming activities?
      • This would be a "partnership:
        • Library provides space, equipment, some money, film licenses etc (what the library can provide effectively)
        • Community group/individual provides their time (what they can provide effectively.
      • ..or just stop altogether. Laramie has lots of activities going on, especially when school is in. It doesn't seem like there is a void for the library to fill, except for the popular programs for the young.  HM:  SNS's analysis of Laramie is accurate based on my experience.
  • Stopping repair of items which are available for repurchase at a reasonable price
    • Buying instead would save staff time
    • Added benefit: more attractive new-looking collection. (JB) This is something we need to consider more. Breaking away from the thought that "we don't have money so I can't get rid of this." Sometimes, you need to just get rid of it because it's ugly. People like to check out good looking materials. 
  • Stop doing "shifting" projects unless absolutely unavoidable.
    • These can cause confusion in finding stuff for staff and patrons, especially when the signage isn't updated with the change.
    • ASPs can be used for these, but if they make mistakes, it can create a lot more work for staff.
    • Added benefit: Could invest in clearer, more long-term signage.
  • Stop doing small weeding projects every few months (Instead consider doing once-a-year projects and sticking firmly to a criteria)  (JB) Systematic to me says using a firm criteria, but not trying to do it all at once in a single project. An ongoing project, with a yearly dusty book list? Since Nora says the list for the entire (children's) collection is down to a manageable size, this seems quite feasible.
    • I think 3 years without a circ is a pretty solid industry standard. In some cases, we've been doing 6 years and exempting many items.
    • Certain items, like classics and local interest, should be exempted, but I think that should be very selective.
    • Doing this more systematically would make it easier on staff overall and would lead to a more attractive collection that would circ more. 
  • Curtail any complicated administrative procedures that cause confusion and extra work
    • adding more and more budget line items
      • The budget is now more complex than almost any other library I know of. I think this makes it much more difficult to understand and work with. Examples of other PL budgets:
      • Why not reevaluate the budgeting structure now, since we've had such struggles over the past year?
      • SMS: This is on the board agenda.
      • Consider setting up simple line line items and putting a manager in charge of each, able to spend it, and responsible for getting results with it.
      • Why not look to budget conservatively so people can spend what's on paper with confidence?
    • Consider establishing a moratorium on all extra non-customer-service tasks for a year or something.
    • Proceed with simplifying timecard/personnel procedures.
      • Could we simplify first and then deal with some of the more controversial suggested changes later?
      • Get everything in VTC (leave balances etc.) so it's easier to deal with timecards.
  • Consider cutting back significantly on Periodicals
    • My experience is that selected titles are highly popular but the vast majority just sit there. sms:  We have a lot of browsers who don't check them out. HM:  I'm sure that more titles are read here (current issues) than are checked out, that's what magazines are about generally - current news.  Also ... a nice collection of current magazines with a nice reading area is an attractive part of the library, so don't shrink too much (especially if not too costly as SNS says).
      • Why not just focus on the popular ones? JB: this seems like a great time and space saver. Daily news found from many other sources these days.
    • We spend $4500+ a year, in addition to adopted titles.
      • Not that much, really.
      • Staff time is more significant.
    • Also contributes to clutter?
    • Research needs are provided for (often better) by Ebscohost.
    • Reason to keep: Individual people tend to have a thing for a title.
      • Should we be getting something that just 1 person wants?
      • Should they be adopting such a title if they do?
        • Is Fdn going to want to continue with Adopt program?
          • Less staff time available?
          • Competes with other fundraising efforts?


Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 11:35 am on Apr 15, 2008

I think some of these comments are ending up going in a direction of more work and extra things to do, rather than less. Why not constrain the discussion to what we can stop doing, and reserve any extras for when we have extra resources. It seems like we're a long way from that point right now.

Also, many suggestions involve difficult and uncertain transitions, redoing complicated procedures. While these kind of changes may be necessary or desirable, why not focus first on things we can drop cold now? Getting that done might give us a little breathing room to then address these other issues.

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