From the Director 1/2014

January message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Welcome to the newly elected Library Board officers! Incoming President will be Chad Anderson, who has served as Vice President for the past last three years and has played a vital role in leading our Balanced Scorecard strategic planning effort in 2011. Carmella Williams will become Vice President, and our newest Trustee, Peter Anagnostos, will serve as Secretary.

We extend our sincere appreciation to Jeanne Shatten for her three years of strong leadership as Library Board President and for steering us through a re-visioning of services and dealing with the funding issues we continue to face. Likewise, we thank Dr. David Hutt as he nears the completion of his seven-year term on the Board this March.

As we turn the calendar from one year to the next, the Board intends to continue the momentum gained during the past twelve months with the reorganization of the Main Library’s first floor and the introduction of self checkout. With that in mind, a Board retreat is scheduled for February 8 to begin to focus on the important issues ahead of us.

Our strategic focus in 2014 will be to: 1) Address the impact of the Affordable Care Act on sustainable health insurance coverage for library staff; 2) Develop innovative approaches to the continued positioning of Shaker Library as a community destination place; and 3) Create an action plan for our operations based upon a study of our facility needs and financial situation, as well as partnership opportunities with the City and Schools.

The rollout of “Obamacare” has been, perhaps, the biggest news story of recent months. The federal website has crashed and burned more than once and millions have lost the insurance that they had, but we are promised that things will get fixed and be better in the future. Despite the various delays and extensions, we know that Shaker Library will be treated as a “large” employer according to the new law and that we will have to meet new government requirements, just like every other business.

There is no doubt that the way people use the Library is changing. It is a national trend with newspapers moving from print to online; with television viewership trending to Internet viewership, and with music, movies, and books shifting into digital and streaming formats. While the public may be checking out as many print items as 20 years ago, we expect that circulation will likely decline as new electronic formats continue to be introduced. Because our focus will always be on information, reading, and books, we will continue to adapt and to help our customers adapt to accessing information in new ways. In the meantime, people continue to use libraries in new and different ways as meeting spaces, networking places, and locations for innovation. We will study what brings people to public libraries today and capitalize on it.

In the end, it all comes down to stable funding with Shaker Library now operating on $1 million less in annual funding since 2009. Our biggest issues are our aging facilities, the Main Library, which we lease from the City, and the Bertram Woods Branch Library, which we own. A key goal will be to develop a 10-year maintenance cost plan in conjunction with a feasibility study for the future use of our buildings, including the possibilities of renovation, expansion, and/or new construction, along with a development plan to finance the needed work.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director