10/12/10

All Pueblo Reads

by Jon Walker
It is October, so it is time for All Pueblo Reads. For the sixth straight year, the Pueblo City-County Library District is pleased to present this annual series of events to our community which focuses on the themes of a great book. We are honored to offer The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie as this year’s selection. It is our hope and belief that this book will resonate with the residents of Pueblo County.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie won the 2007
National Book Award for young people’s literature. One reviewer described this book
this way: “In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, is based on the author’s own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away
from the life he seems destined to live.”
This is the first year the library will receive a $10,000 grant from the Friends of the Library in support of the project. This gift has made it possible to have Sherman Alexie in Pueblo for two public programs, with our featured program being Alexie’s appearance at the Rawlings Library on October 24. You will not want to miss the opportunity to meet this renowned author in person, hear him speak and have him sign your books.
Please join me in reading this great book and participating in many of the more than 80 events made possible by All Pueblo Reads.

The American Library Association

by Jon Walker
We believe in offering robust training and development opportunities for library
employees. In fact, Colorado Public Library Standards state that library-staff training and development is essential. At our library, we are fortunate to regularly meet the following state standards in staff training and development: regular assessment of training needs, and compensating library staff by allowing them to use work time to attend development activities.
As part of my own professional development, I had the good fortune to attend the American Library Association's Annual Conference. To sum up my experience, it was powerful. More than 25,000 library professionals gathered for six days of workshops, exhibits, and programs. I attended for the better part of three days. It was a busy three days! This conference is literally for the “professional librarian.” Normally, I would not share much in this newsletter about this “behind-the-scenes” world of libraries, but I am making an exception now in the spirit of giving a glimpse into what librarians talk about. Some of the highlights of the conference:
• The Online Computer Library Center presented a program on their current
initiatives. This membership-based, nonprofit research organization is working to
develop a web-scale library-management system. This effort is mostly driven by
librarians who are frustrated by pricey and lower-functioning software solutions
on the market today. Could OCLC’s work portend a significant development in library
productivity software? Time will tell.
• I attended a program on how to measure library outcomes using tools that determine the library's impact on the community. The goal was to gather useful data and customer perspectives to improve accountability and services.
• Perhaps the least “library-geeky” presentation was the conference's opening
program featuring Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, editor, and
professor, Toni Morrison. Her motivational presentation focused on how libraries
changed her life. I left this presentation with a renewed appreciation for the invaluable roles libraries play in our country.
• One of the biggest investments the library now makes is in its online subscription and reference databases. So, I spent time with vendors who help us provide these services, including presentations on how to improve eBook and eAudiobook services.
• One area where libraries have recently invested is in the use of RFID tags and
equipment to track library materials. Our library contains more than 550,000
items and we check out about 1.5 million items annually. Using the best technology
to efficiently organize and track these transactions is important. I met with
RFID vendors and attended a program on RFID entitled “Smarter Libraries." I have a
renewed belief that PCCLD should pursue RFID tagging of library materials in the not-so-distant future.
• A comprehensive genealogy workshop featured well-known genealogists Thomas Jay Kemp and Dick Eastman. They presented on how today's online and digitized resources have impacted the field.
• I also focused some attention on learning about tools to prevent DVD theft, which has occurred at the Rawlings Library. One tool from 3M will only unlock cases upon checkout, so you can't unlock the case if you do not properly check it out. Another tool was a more secure case that only employees are able to unlock that could be used on items of “high interest."
In conclusion, ongoing development is important to having a successful career
in any profession. I am pleased and proud the Pueblo City-County Library District
expects and supports ongoing professional development for all of our employees, and
I hope the example I provided of my own recent experience helps you understand
the reason we continue to encourage and support our staff to learn, train, and grow.
Ultimately, better-trained library employees translate into improved services for library customers.

Planning for 2011 is a Challenge

by Jon Walker
This year is turning out to be different at the library. What I mean by this has nothing to do with how much our libraries are being used. Libraries are busier than ever. Our libraries are bustling places. Indeed, use of our libraries this year is greater than it ever has been. In every major measurable category we are at all-time record levels. Checkouts of books and other library materials is up 22 percent. The number of people visiting our libraries is up 20 percent. Attendance at library-sponsored programs and events is +41%. The number of people logging on library public-access computers is up 34 percent. We are seeing double-digit increases across the board. In fact, it is turning out to be the busiest year ever at the Pueblo City-County Library. This isn’t any different, either. In each of
the past five years, we continuously have set new records for use of libraries. It
speaks well for our goal of insuring ours is a community of readers.
If so much is the same, what is different?
What is different is how we are planning for next year. Normally, at this time of year, we would be preparing to gather groups of library employees and members of the
Board of Trustees to develop goals and objectives to formulate a balanced budget
for 2011. Until recently, we were planning for flat or somewhat reduced revenues in
2011. This, by itself, is not unexpected. After all, most people are cutting back due to the poor economy. We had some confidence this could be accomplished by “tightening our belts,” just like almost everyone else right now.
But this year is turning out to be different. This year we also are making contingency plans to reduce or eliminate most library services. How can this be? The library is being used more than ever in its entire history, yet we are making plans to possibly curtail and do away with services. Clearly, something is wrong. What has changed is this. There will be three referenda for voters statewide on November 2. If passed by the voters, each of the three will impact our library revenues dramatically and negatively. It has been determined Douglas Bruce from El Paso County is behind the three measures (http://www.denverpost.com/ci_15281356?source=rss_viewed). The Bruce proposals are commonly known as Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101. If passed by the voters, the Bruce ballot issues will amend the state constitution and set law to severely cut taxes and slash revenues for nearly all public entities in Colorado, including our libraries in Pueblo County. If the Bruce referenda pass, taxes for libraries will be chopped by as much as nearly one-third in 2011 with deeper cuts in the years to come. This will result in striking reductions to library services. For example, if these
referenda pass, we can balance the library budget in 2011 by doing all these things:
• Permanently close the Barkman Library
• Permanently close the Lamb Library
• Permanently close the Pueblo West Library
• Permanently close the Library @ the Y
• Permanently close all Library Satellites and Outreach Services
• Permanently close the InfoZone Museum
• Reduce hours and services at the Rawlings Library
I want to be clear. No decision has been made on how we will balance the budget
in 2011 if the referenda pass. The example above is only illustrative to demonstrate the gravity of the situation. Passing the Bruce referenda will cut taxes. For example, the average automobile owner currently pays $4.06 annually in Pueblo County to support libraries. If Bruce’s Proposition 101 passes, this will be reduced to an average of six cents per year (http://www.thebell.org/sites/default/files/Pueblo1page.pdf). Another example, if Bruce’s Amendment 60 passes the average homeowner’s property tax paid for libraries will be rolled back to what the dollar amount meant more than fifteen years ago.
In conclusion, I should point out that I am neither advocating for nor recommending
against Bruce’s Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101. However, as the Executive Director of the library it is my job to work to provide facts about the state of the library and to guarantee the best possible library services
with the revenues provided. It is a fact that voter approval of Bruce’s proposed
Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101 on November 2 will both reduce taxes and cripple library funding.
For more on both sides of the referenda, see http://www.donthurtcolorado.com and
http://www.cotaxreforms.com.
Please remember to vote on Nov. 2.

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...