2013 ANNUAL REPORT
October 31, 2014
HAMILTON FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY 2013 ANNUAL REPORT PRESENTED TO THE MAYOR, TOWNSHIP COUNCIL AND THE LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Introduction: This report is presented within the context of the Library Strategic Plan as adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2012. The reader will note that comments are not made in areas for which noteworthy progress was not made in 2012; the limiting factor, as with all long term visions, being financial, resource and time constraints. This in no way indicates that the stated goals and initiatives do not remain vital to the future success of the Library.
Strategic initiative #1: Service Excellence
The Hamilton Public Library exists to meet the needs of the community.
We identified a growing portion of Hamilton’s population whose needs were previously unmet. According to the last census, 13% of Hamilton’s population is Spanish speaking. We allocated funds and purchased materials to begin a Spanish section in the Adult Room. The Director attended several Title 1 programs in the elementary schools, to present the Library to Hispanic parents and children. Over the past year, 72 Spanish speaking families became members and active users of the Library. Additionally, we sponsored a Hispanic Community Day, in conjunction with Councilwoman Schirmer to present Township and nonprofit services available to the Latino community
Goal: Offer customer-focused service throughout the organization.
• Evaluate workflow, staffing levels and budget allocation to maximize customer satisfaction with resources and services. In 2013, we created a large cadre of volunteers, made up of community service workers, retired people and high school students. This way we were able to get certain tasks done without replacing retiring employees and were able to maintain our high level of public service. Further, the implantation of vendor pre-cataloging effectively facilitated the movement of staff to more direct patron service.
• Evaluate self-service options for optimal performance. We have identified several options for self-service kiosks whose functions would free up staff time for public service. However, they are currently unaffordable.
• Provide understandable, attractive, visible signage. The adult reading and reference room was repainted, using a color system to help navigate the 1st floor and mezzanine collections. Now patrons are guided to the areas they need by using the painted posts as guidelines.
• Evaluate customer service. As a matter of policy, we encourage patrons to participate in and comment on our collections, policies and procedures. We have a very active suggestion box, respond to QAlerts immediately, and now with our new ILS system, have a more direct way to communicate with our patrons. In addition, direct email access to the Board of Trustees was created so that patrons could express their concerns.
Goal: Strive to be a leader in service excellence among libraries in New Jersey and nationwide
• Incorporate continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation into all library operations and services. Analyzing workflow, and job descriptions and performance are now part of a daily routine.
• Gather, evaluate and implement best practices from other libraries and adapt them to our operation as appropriate. We are making a concerted effort to stay up to date with professional literature and share ideas with our colleagues.
• Create innovative services and programs and share with other libraries and our community. I have been attending statewide workshops and conferences to help gain the experience of other libraries and form personal connections with our colleagues.
Strategic Initiative #2: Access to Information
The free exchange of ideas and access to information are fundamental tenets
of a democratic society. This is the guiding principle of our Library and is the basis for decisions ranging from acquisitions to personnel.
Goal: Make the Library easier to use for everyone.
• Conduct a self-study for policy, economic, language and physical barriers to reduce or eliminate barriers to access. This has not been done officially, but we are aware of the building’s limitations and staff has been made fully aware of the need to, and the ways to aid the physically and mentally disabled.
• Explore techniques to better market and promote the collection. We have made better use of our website to publicize our events and promote our services. In addition, we now maintain a significant Facebook presence.
• Reach out to special client groups such as youth, teens, seniors, persons with disabilities, English language learners, etc. to meet their needs. The Director meets with community, educational and nonprofit organizations at her initiation and upon request.
• Identify non-users and their needs. We are very pleased to announce our Library to Go program which came to fruition six months ago. We contacted several assisted living and care facilities in the township and now deliver books to their residents on a monthly basis. We also have matched volunteers with individual homebound persons to provide library services to those who are unable to visit the library.
Goal: Increase staff and public awareness of what we do and what we have.
• Create a public awareness plan that promotes services, materials and programs. The distribution list for press releases was updated during 2013 and releases submitted for every significant event.
• Ensure that all staff is fully conversant with Hamilton Library policies and procedures. The Policy Manual was revised last year. All employees have a copy of the Policy Manual and meetings were held with all staff to go over it line by line. The Manual is available online and the areas that directly affect patrons, e.g. circulation policies are copied and available at the Circulation desk.
• Share the library core values with staff and community. The Library’s core values are expressed in our Strategic Plan. All employees have a copy of the Plan and it is available on our website.
• Improve and increase outreach efforts. This is a challenging area that we are continuously working on. We are partnering with other Hamilton service based organizations, such as Meals on Wheels to cross promote our services. A clothing drop box sponsored by the Rescue Mission of Trenton was placed in the parking lot during 2013. The library continues to collect for local pantries, Cellphones for Soldiers and Terracycle.
Strategic Initiative #3: Learning Organization
We believe that we provide the best possible library services when we are engaged in professional development.
Goal: Be a responsive, evolving organization.
• Establish institutional standards and expectations for communication, respect and conflict resolution throughout the organization. All library staff have been provided with the Hamilton Township Employee Code of Conduct, attended harassment training and read and signed off on the Ethics Rules.
• Recognize and reward exceptional individual and group performance, innovation, collaboration, creative problem-solving and continuous learning.
• Facilitate the career growth of high performing staff and provide all staff with the tools and educational opportunities required to develop new skills.
• Create the optimal workforce for the Library’s future; identify appropriate workload staffing levels necessary for running operations; strive to attract and retain a staff that reflects the diversity of our community.
• Share knowledge throughout the organization and encourage staff to avail themselves of both onsite and offsite professional development opportunities. All staff attended 13 hours of training on the new ILS system. The Librarians accrued an additional 79 hours of professional development, both offsite and inhouse webinars.
• Actively practice open, honest communication.
We changed our entire Integrated Library System this year. The staff participated in months of study and beta testing of the potential new system. Once implemented, they wrote up instructions and procedures in their areas to help their colleagues navigate the new system. There was a great deal of cross training and collaboration among the staff to ensure a smooth transition and training period.
Goal: Share a clear, inspiring vision and purpose.
• Ensure all staff understand and actively support organizational goals.
• Incorporate assessment, continuous improvement and planning for the future into everyday operations.
Strategic Initiative #4: Lifelong Learning and Enjoyment
Hamilton has a proud heritage of diversity and inclusion, and is strongly committed to education and learning.
Goal: Promote literacy and the love of reading and learning for all ages.
• Expand and evaluate outreach services for literacy. We are the major meeting place in the County for tutors and students of the Literacy Volunteers of Mercer County. We provide materials and space for hundreds of students and teachers to meet every month.
• Develop opportunities for staff and public to cultivate and share their love of reading. Due to staff shortages, we are not doing all we can in this area. We would love to sponsor reading groups. We did have a volunteer start a book group, which unfortunately disbanded after the first few months, due to lack of interest.
• Develop programs in support of and in coordination with the collection.
Goal: Build, manage and evaluate our collection in order to meet the educational, recreational and cultural needs of the community.
• Evaluate community and patron desires and make sure our collection reflects them. The Library continues to assure that the Librarians are aware of the Township’s evolving demographics and can respond appropriately to patron’s needs.
• Define the role of the collection and the appropriate balance for types of materials, including formats, age levels and subjects.
In anticipation for the migration to the new ILS system, the entire collection was weeded, both physically and electronically. We deleted records of lost or stolen items, items that had not circulated in ten years or more, and those that were out of date. While engaged in this project, we gained valuable insights as to what parts of the collection do and do not circulate and in what formats.
• Provide easy user-focused access to the collection.
Our entire staff is involved in suggesting and purchasing materials for our patrons. The library assistants at the Circulation Desk are aware of what is being taken out and put on hold. Our librarians know what types of materials patrons are looking for through their questions. We make a point of reading all the magazines and newspapers our patrons are reading in order to purchase reviewed books. We also belong to a consortium of libraries that loan materials to each other. Our ILL program points to gaps in our collection that may need attention.
Goal: Use technology to provide innovative library services and to reach out to remote users.
• Explore the establishment of a virtual branch to focus our current online services into a unified approach.
• Evaluate our integrated library system to ensure optimum customer service and financial stewardship.
This year saw the introduction of a new Integrated Library System. The immediate reason for the change was financial. The new system is open source software (which is free), backed up with a contract with a company that provides training and technical support. This change took us the entire year to prepare for prior to the go live date of November 11, 2013. Although not seamless, the migration was much smoother than it could have been. This change saves us approximately $35,000 per year.
As importantly, it is much easier to navigate for patrons and staff and has significant enhancements that our old system did not have. There is more direct and more frequent contact with our users via email. There is a significant saving in personnel time, because the new system has several automated features that staff used to have to do.
Strategic Initiative #5: Cultural Center
Hamilton is a dynamic hub of cultural activities and civic engagement
Goal: Offer programming which serves the needs and interests of the Hamilton community.
• Improve library-wide coordination, planning, marketing and evaluation of programming. Through the generous financing of the Friends of the Library, we have purchased a Movie Licensing Agreement. This allows us to present movies free of charge to our patrons. We have three movie showings a week, one for children’s movies and two for adults at different times of day and different days of the week.
• Work in collaboration with other organizations (libraries, schools, businesses) and cultural institutions to develop, co-sponsor and publicize programs.
We continue to work with local artists, many from the Grounds for Sculpture, who have generously loaned us their works to display at the Library. Our interior walls are now adorned with paintings and photographs and our exterior grounds boast 10 sculptures.
With the financial backing of the Friends of the Library, we continued our museum/library pass program. This allows library patrons free entrance to any of the 10 venues with whom we partner. This program, with our art program, expands and modernizes the role of libraries and the opportunities for growth and exposure to new ideas and places for our patrons.
Goal: Optimize the use of meeting rooms.
• Create a centralized listing where all events and programs held in the Library can be posted.
• Communicate to the community the availability of and limitations on the use of meeting rooms.
• Evaluate and purchase room reservation software and train relevant staff in its optimum use.
We revamped our meeting room space to expand capacity. This year we are on target to host meetings that brought 30,000 people to the library. Meeting room policies were updated this year to reflect increased demand, to ensure that Hamilton nonprofit organizations have continued free use of the space.
Strategic Initiative #6: Stewardship
The township of Hamilton, its residents and businesses provide us with the funds to operate the Library and expect us to maintain the highest levels of efficiency and integrity.
Goal: Develop a comprehensive plan to maintain and upgrade library infrastructure (building, grounds, technology) to ensure safety, efficiency and the delivery of excellent library service. Balance opportunities for improvement against costs.
• Determine and plan for upkeep-, upgrade- and replacement-costs for all systems on a continuing basis. The Library is forty years old. Many of the systems are failing or will fail at any moment. This year, the air conditioner’s chiller barrel went, as did the propane generated backup generator. Additionally, we currently have only one boiler on line. We also will need to address the chronic plumbing issue this year.
Goal: Reduce the environmental impact of the Library below current levels and be recognized as a community leader in this area.
• Create an Environmental Task Force to explore energy efficiencies and ways to reduce the environmental impact of the Library. We installed LED lighting and are very interested in pursuing the use of solar energy. Our property and land have been evaluated numerous times by the Township and consultants, but it has failed to materialize.
Goal: Create ways to reach patrons who cannot or do not visit the library.
• Assess the population and needs of non-drivers and homebound residents.
We introduced our Library to Go program which came to fruition six months ago. We contacted several assisted living and care facilities in the township and now deliver books to their residents on a monthly basis. We also have matched volunteers with individual homebound persons to provide library services to those who are unable to visit the library.
• Create partnerships with government entities and nonprofit organizations to supply access to Library collections and services. Discussions were initiated in 2013 with the school district to develop means to advise the Library of course activities so that materials could be selected to meet those needs.
• Examine (and adjust as necessary) library hours to better meet the needs of our residents. The Library has a statutory requirement to operate a minimum of 60 hours per week. Many of our patrons have expressed a desire for Sunday hours. Regretfully, resources do not exist to do so.
•Research the feasibility of purchasing a bookmobile and/ or technology to reach the homebound.
Our efforts in this area are restricted by finances.
Goal: Make the best use of available space.
• Conduct regular usability studies and align spaces according to patron use.
• Evaluate the usage of lobby space and develop a plan for optimal use.
We have determined that our greatest need is for small group study rooms. We plan on shrinking our reference area to create four small study rooms. We believe that we can accomplish this with the skills of newly hired (replacement) maintenance staff.
Goal: Align our budget with institutional goals and ensure our priorities and our budget process is open and transparent to all.
• Develop a budget process that is transparent and actively encourages staff input.
• Raise our cost consciousness and encourage staff participation in cost containment efforts.
• Demonstrate operating efficiencies to the community.
Budget meetings with supervisors have been initiated. The current and proposed budgets are discussed and input is gathered. Staff is encouraged to suggest areas where monies could be saved. Since we are continually asking fewer staff members to do more and different work, their input and understanding is vital. During the past two years, every expenditure and bill has been analyzed. Standing orders have been cancelled, contracts renegotiated, vendors under state contract have been utilized. Duplication of services and ordering has been eliminated. All spending has come under scrutiny and all costs that we control have been evaluated.
Goal: Broaden our resources.
• Develop a centrally coordinated volunteer program that includes training and recognition of volunteers.
We are fortunate to have a vibrant and successful Friends of the Library organization that annually donates an average of $35,000 worth of goods to the Library.
• Explore ways to increase resources through community and library partnerships. We are the major recipient of community service workers through our local schools that require students to volunteer in their community. We have a continuous cadre of dedicated students who help in every part of the library. We also have a group of adult volunteers who provide one on one computer instruction to our patrons.
• Expand fundraising efforts. A baseball outing fundraiser was sponsored by the Board of Trustees in 2013, a first for the Library. While only modestly successful, it provided a wealth of insight into how future fundraising activities should be conducted.
• Explore the formation of a foundation and investigate entrepreneurial services that will increase financial resources.