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LIBR 204: Budget Analysis

Gradual Budget Recovery at the Paso Robles City Library

Budgeting and planning are two of the most important skills a library manager can possess. Creating a periodic budget proposal for approval by the governing body is one crucial assignment that sets management apart from the rank and file employees. Although this process may seem daunting at first, managers who take a methodical approach will be able to create a workable document. Evans and Alire (2013) provide recommended steps for creating a workable budget (p.427). The budget process starts with an examination of the library’s current offerings, goals, and future needs, which are prioritized. Once the list of programs and services is created, cost estimates for each item on the list are needed. These cost estimates provide the basis for the budget proposal. The biggest challenge to budget creation are the ebbs and flows of the economy which are sometimes difficult to predict and which sometimes make it impossible to offer even the most basic services expected of libraries.

The Paso Robles City Library faced several difficult budgeting years due to the great recession of 2007-2010. Staff were asked to cut portions of their budget by 25%. Due to the city’s Layoff Prevention Plan (City of Paso Robles, July), staffing levels could not be cut, although incentives were provided for staff considering retirement, and full-time staff were given the option of reducing their hours without jeopardizing their benefits and retirement. A hiring freeze was instituted, so if staff retired or resigned, they were not replaced. Even more challenging from a scheduling perspective is that the desk shift hours that were vacant due to part-time staff leaving could not be reassigned to other part-time staff (increasing their hours), and had to be covered by full-time staff, including management. Because the city made a decision to make the economic downturn as invisible to the public as possible, open hours were not reduced. While all these staffing issues were occurring, the Black Gold Cooperative Library System, of which Paso Robles City Library is a part, was revising the protocols for assessing membership fees, and Paso Robles’ share was increasing dramatically. To meet the 25% budget reduction, all staff training was cut, the materials budget was slashed, and only minimal programming was allowed. During these years, there really was no budgeting process. It was assumed that departments would not spend more in one year than they had spent in the previous year; budgets were flat, and cuts continued to be made wherever feasible. The previous year’s actual spending became the current year’s actual allocation (“budget”), presenting further management challenges as prices increased with no corresponding increase in funding to support them. The Friends of the Library and Library Foundation provided funds for materials and essential programs such as the all-ages Summer Reading Program; instead of their traditional role of enhancing the library’s offerings, in some ways these non-profit groups were the library’s offerings.

Flash forward to the present, and the city is in a period of modest recovery. For the first year in a number of years, it appears that the city will be operating in the black and will not be relying on reserve funds to balance the budget. Management are again being asked for preliminary budget requests, but are asked to be conservative in their estimates of needed funding for fiscal year (FY) 2016. For the purpose of this paper, this is the budget proposal that will be discussed; it can be found in full in the Appendix. The city of Paso Robles uses a traditional line item style of budget; funds are allocated to various programs within the format. In this way elements of the line item and program budget formats are used, allowing librarian/coordinator level staff the ability to decide how money allocated in one area is to be spent. There are several programs that are funded including: Staffing, Study Center, Circulation, Adult Services, Reference Services, Administration, Children’s Services, Volunteer Services, and Miscellaneous. Proposed Staffing and Miscellaneous program amounts are determined by the finance department and City Manager; the Library Manager and Director of Library and Recreation Services determine what will be proposed in the other areas of library service.

STAFFING

Because the library is a service industry, staffing is one of the most cost-intensive pieces of the library’s budget. In the proposal for 2016, staffing costs represent 46% of the overall budget. To determine projected staffing costs, management looked at past increases in this area, and calculated an average percent by which salaries/wages and benefits have increased in past years. For three years during the great recession, staff voted to forego their raises and step increases. In their last Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (City of Paso Robles, July), library staff were granted a 3% increase, representing a small cost of living increase as well as an increase to cover the employee portion of the employee retirement plan (PERS). Step increases were also allowed once again, further increasing the overall staffing budget. Health care is also expected to increase as it has in prior years at about a rate of 5%. Overall, staffing costs increased 9% between FY2014 and FY 2015; in this budget proposal, management assumed a similar increase of 9%. Disher (2010) supports the use of past budget use as an indicator of future budget needs (p.43).

FY 2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
STAFFING
SALARIES & WAGES 547596 607832  11%
BENEFITS 251860 263697 4.7%
TOTAL STAFFING 799456 871529 9%

LIBRARY STUDY CENTER

The Paso Robles Library Study Center (LSC) is an off-site facility located in a County Department of Education-owned building in a low-income area of town, providing after school homework help to elementary and middle school students. Library staff and volunteers oversee the facility and provide homework assistance, filtered Internet computers, and various programs and activities. The Study Center is a popular place for students to gather to do homework, surf the Internet, or play board games. The LSC has always had a fairly small budget, and this year’s projected budget is no exception. The largest portion of the budget is for utilities billed to the city by the County ($4500). The LSC has a small browsing book collection and a listening center with read-along book-and-disc kits; small amounts of money have been requested to freshen this collection in 2016 ($450 total). There is an office supply budget ($500) which covers everything from toner for the printer to the Clorox wipes used to clean the furniture daily. The biggest change in the 2016 projection is the addition of a modest allocation of funds ($400) for programs. This would allow staff to purchase craft supplies and good behavior rewards currently being absorbed by the library’s Children’s Services budget. Overall, if approved, this budget request increases the Study Center budget by 9% (only $585) over the 2015 budget.

FY2015 FY2016 %CHANGE
STUDY CENTER
AV MATERIALS 0 100
BOOKS 500 350
DATA CONNECTION 270 280
OFFICE SUPPLIES 300 500
PROGRAMS 0 400
UTILITIES 600 625
COUNTY UTILITITES 4500 4500
TOTAL STUDY CENTER 6170 6755 9.5%

CIRCULATION

The Circulation portion of the budget covers office supplies for the library, collection agency fees, credit card processing fees, and a portion of the Black Gold Quarterly fees which includes all costs associated with the cooperative’s shared computer system (ILS) and downloadable library (Overdrive, Zinio, Indieflix, Enki). The largest portion of the Circulation budget is used to pay for Black Gold quarterly membership fees. Because the Cooperative adjusted the formula used to determine a member’s share, Paso Robles City Library’s quarterly payment has increased over the past five years from about $16,000 to $22,500 per quarter, and will continue to take another hike in FY2017 as part of a phase-in for fees. In addition to these membership fees that all six members pay to participate, there are some services offered such as self-check software licensing, and purchase of materials such as barcodes and library cards that are optional. Paso Robles’ share of these fees adds an additional $2000 per year to the Circulation budget. All charges for office supplies for the public areas and public service desks including copier and printer supplies also come from the Circulation budget, adding on another $8000 per year. Another group of fees that represents a substantial portion of the budget are fees charged for accepting credit/debit cards ($800 in 2016) and use of a collection agency’s services ($3000). There are also smaller allocations requested for printing services used to print large quantities of library card registration forms and general library brochures ($750) and postage used to return lost library cards to patrons.

FY2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
CIRCULATION
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 20900 24500
COLLECTION AGENCY FEES 3000 3000
COPY PRINTING 750 750
CREDIT CARD FEES 787 800
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 5500 8000
POSTAGE 65 65
TOTAL CIRCULATION 31128 37245 19.7%

ADULT SERVICES

The Adult Services budget covers all materials for ages 13 and up, and programs for ages 18 and up. This also includes all costs associated with traditional technical services expenses and office supplies used in the Adult Services area of oversight. Once again by far the largest single line item is the Black Gold quarterly membership payment. In FY2015, Adult Services was charged a lower amount for the Black Gold quarterly payment because the California state government sent extra money to the cooperatives that was applied to this quarter. While this is good news for this year’s expenditures, it makes next year’s increase to $22,500 all that much more dramatic. Other increased revenue requests are in the areas of materials ($1000 each to audio-visual and print materials) and program supplies ($300). This represents a 21.3% increase in this program area, mainly for Black Gold fees.

FY 2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
ADULT SERVICES
AV MATERIALS 7000 8000
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 16510 22500
BOOKS 12000 13000
COPY PRINTING 420 420
DATA COMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 1950 1950
POSTAGE 954 1000
PROGRAMS 200 500
TOTAL ADULT SERVICES 39160 47500 21.3%

REFERENCE SERVICES

The Reference Services budget for the Paso Robles City Library includes all Reference materials, the periodicals collection, any database costs, and public Internet computer costs. Once again, the largest single cost is for the Black Gold quarterly membership payment ($22,500). A $1000 increase for print materials has been requested, raising the total Reference materials budget allocation to $2000. It should be noted that the Friends of the Library have been covering the bulk of the Reference materials costs, and the library will be relying on them to continue to do so in FY2016. The Friends of the Library have paid for all public access databases, and all materials beyond the cost of magazine subscriptions, so $2000 does not actually represent the cost of materials for the Reference area. It is also important to note that the library has a plan to greatly decrease the size of the Reference collection, discarding titles whose information can be more easily found online, and moving other volumes to the regular circulating collection. Because there is no Reference Services Librarian at this time, and no plans/funds to hire one any time soon, there is no need for any Reference programming money. The Reference Services budget increase represents an almost 30% increase over the past few years, but nearly all of this is due to the increase in Black Gold membership fees.

FY2015 FY2016 %CHANGE
REFERENCE SERVICES
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 17667 22500
BOOKS 1000 2000
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 780 780
TOTAL REFERENCE 19573 25410 29.8%

ADMINISTRATION

The Administration section of the budget represents a small amount of funding used mainly for food for staff meetings, Library Board of Trustees costs, and any professional development materials that are purchased for the library. Staff recruitment costs are often taken from this budget area as well, and, although there is still no new or backfilling of positions, if a staff member leaves, the library is able to replace him, thus incurring Human Resources costs. This budget area pays for a city-owned cell phone for the Library Manager. An extra $1000 was requested in Administration to allow management to bring back the quarterly all-library-staff meetings. Although the monetary amount is rather small, the $1000 still represents a 21.5% increase over FY2015.

FY2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
ADMINISTRATION
CELL PHONE 327 350
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 3000 4000
POSTAGE 150 150
TRAVEL 150 150
TOTAL ADMINISTRATION 3753 4780 21.5%

CHILDREN’S SERVICES

The Children’s Services budget funds all materials for ages birth through age 12, and programs for ages birth through age 17. Here again, the largest single cost to this budget area is for the quarterly Black Gold Membership fees. If approved, the Children’s area will receive a significant increase to both the materials budget (an additional $2300) and the programming budget (an additional $800). There will be a substantial decrease in office supply funding ($1200) to offset the requested increase for materials and program funding. A cell phone charge is included to pay for the city-owned cell phone used by the Director of Library and Recreation Services (who was formerly the Children’s Services Librarian). Overall, this budget area will see a 27.6% increase if approved.

FY 2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
CHILDREN’S SERVICES
AV MATERIALS 200 500
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 18249 22500
BOOKS 1000 3000
CELL PHONE 303 325
COPY PRINTING 250 250
DATA COMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 2000 800
POSTAGE 25 25
PROGRAMS 200 1000
TOTAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES 22353 28530 27.6%

VOLUNTEER SERVICES

The Volunteer Program at the Paso Robles City Library is unique in the state of California, and maybe throughout the United States. The library utilizes the talents of over 125 volunteers in both traditional volunteer roles (shelving, mending, non-profit support groups) and non-traditional roles (working the public service desks, organizing and conducting story times, processing and copy cataloging of materials). The volunteer budget pays for volunteer supplies (such as name badges, bottled water, and candy) and volunteer acknowledgement (such as the library’s annual Fall Fest Barbecue). It also pays for the Library Leaders Program luncheon for volunteers who have been asked to act as advisors to staff regarding volunteer needs and as trainers for incoming volunteers for the areas in which they work. This budget total is remaining the same overall, but funds were shifted from the general office supply area to the programming area.

FY2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
VOLUNTEER SERVICES
COPY PRINTING 100 100
OFFICE SUPPLIES 2600 1000
POSTAGE 40 40
PROGRAMS 0 1600
TOTAL VOLUNTEER SERVICES 2740 2740 0%

MISCELLANEOUS

The City of Paso Robles has its own set of items that are charged to the library’s budget. The library has no control over these allocations; they are set by the Administrative Services Department, City Manager, and City Council. The largest portion of this, and in fact the second largest portion of the entire library budget – almost the same cost as staffing the library – is the Allocated Overhead (FY 2016 projection is $851,700). This includes all charges to the library from other city departments. For example, a portion of the library’s Allocated Overhead is slated for the Information Technology staff who service the library’s computers on a regular basis. The Police Department, Administrative Services, Human Resources, and Public Works Departments also receive a portion of these monies. All of these services are necessary to the functioning of the library. Insurance costs are also part of the Allocated Overhead. Another large Miscellaneous charge is the annual equipment replacement fee which allows the library to replace computers and copiers on a regular basis, keeping equipment current for staff and the public. Utilities charges keep the lights on in the building, pay for heat and air conditioning maintenance, and keep the taps flowing. The legal fees represent the portion of the City Attorney’s contract for which the library is responsible. The allocations in this area of the budget proposal are remaining   the same, except for a modest increase in the Allocated Overhead. The other Miscellaneous allocations may change as new contracts for legal service and insurance are formulated, and utility charges may increase as well.

FY2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
MISCELLANEOUS
ALLOCATED OVERHEAD 846000 851700
EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE 100 100
EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT 13700 13700
LEGAL SERVICES 1000 1000
UTILITIES 5000 5000
TOTAL MISCELLANEOUS 865800 871500 .66%

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, the library is asking for a modest increase in funding (9.9% or $171,428), mainly due to staffing cost projections (42% of all increases or $72073) and the large increases in Black Gold fees (10% of the total increases or $16,674). There is also a modest amount being sought for materials and program increases (4% or $6800). Because it has been so many years since the city has created a formalized budget, and because the city has been so slow to recover from the recession, the increases in materials spending were based on rough ideas of what needs would be for FY2016. Ideally there would be a more formalized process which ties in budget requests for materials funding to circulation statistics as described in the “magic formula” of Pearlmutter and Nelson (2012, pp.76-77). Once the city begins realizing greater recovery from the recession, using a formula such as this will make sense.

FY 2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
BOTTOM LINE
STAFFING 733884 871529
STUDY CENTER 6170 6755
CIRCULATION 31128 37245
ADULT SERVICES 39160 47500
REFERENCE SERVICES 19573 25410
ADMINISTRATION 3753 4780
CHILDREN’S SERVICES 22353 28530
VOLUNTEER SERVICES 2740 2740
MISCELLANEOUS 865800 871500
TOTAL BOTTOM LINE 1724561 1895989 9.9%

So, what could Paso Robles do differently in the budget structure that would help out the library? The main thing that makes this budget awkward is the huge percentage of Allocated Overhead. While an argument can be made that by including these charges, the city is actually including all the money it takes to run the library as if it were an independent operation, it really does not make sense to be moving funds from one department to another. In fact, when it comes to reporting budget figures to the State Library, the Paso Robles City Library seems to be doing remarkably well for a library serving 30,000 people (United States Census Bureau, 2014), spending $63.20 per capita. Subtract the Allocated Overhead from the total budget, and the city is now only spending $34.80 per capita, a more realistic amount based on the services actually being provided. If the Allocated Overhead were distributed among the budgets for the various departments it represents, it would paint a much truer picture of the state of the library’s individual budget.

When all is said and done, the City of Paso Robles City budgeting structure works well for the organization. It is laid out in an organized manner that is easy to follow. Because it is a line item budget, staff members who oversee portions of the budget know exactly how much they have available to spend for various library services. The city has recently acquired new financial software that will make report generating much easier, particularly the end of year statistics that are so helpful for completing the State Library’s annual Public Library Survey report and for planning the following year’s budget.

REFERENCES

City of Paso Robles (August 5, 2014) General Plan Financial Forecast – 2011-2015 [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.prcity.com/government/search.asp?cx= 013496630980780339025%3A9zcud22uuus&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q= layoff+prevention+plan&sa.x=0&sa.y=0

City of Paso Robles (July 1, 2014) Memorandum of understanding between the City of El Paso de Robles and the Paso Robles City Employees’ Association, local 620, Service Employees International Union [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.prcity.com/ government/search.asp?cx=013496630980780339025%3A9zcud22uuus&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q=mou&sa

Disher, W. (2010). Crash course in public library administration ABC-CLIO

Evans, G. E., & Alire, C. A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals American Library Association

Pearlmutter, J., & Nelson, P. (2012). Small public library management American Library Association

United States Census Bureau (December 4, 2014). El Paso de Robles (Paso Robles) (city), California. State & County QuickFacts [Data file]. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0622300.html

 

 

APPENDIX

PASO ROBLES CITY LIBRARY BUDGET FY2016

FY 2015 FY2016 % CHANGE
STAFFING
SALARIES & WAGES 547596 607832
BENEFITS 251860 263697
TOTAL STAFFING 733884 871529 18.8%
STUDY CENTER
AV MATERIALS 0 100
BOOKS 500 350
DATA CONNECTION 270 280
OFFICE SUPPLIES 300 500
PROGRAMS 0 400
UTILITIES 600 625
COUNTY UTILITITES 4500 4500
TOTAL STUDY CENTER 6170 6755 9.5%
CIRCULATION
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 20900 24500
COLLECTION AGENCY FEES 3000 3000
COPY PRINTING 750 750
CREDIT CARD FEES 787 800
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 5500 8000
POSTAGE 65 65
TOTAL CIRCULATION 31128 37245 19.7%
ADULT SERVICES
AV MATERIALS 7000 8000
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 16510 22500
BOOKS 12000 13000
COPY PRINTING 420 420
DATA COMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 1950 1950
POSTAGE 954 1000
PROGRAMS 200 500
TOTAL ADULT SERVICES 39160 47500 21.3%
REFERENCE SERVICES
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 17667 22500
BOOKS 1000 2000
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 780 780
TOTAL REFERENCE 19573 25410 29.8%
ADMINISTRATION
CELL PHONE 327 350
DATA COMMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 3000 4000
POSTAGE 150 150
TRAVEL 150 150
TOTAL ADMINISTRATION 3753 4780 27.4%
CHILDREN’S SERVICES
AV MATERIALS 200 500
BLACK GOLD QUARTERLY 18249 22500
BOOKS 1000 3000
CELL PHONE 303 325
COPY PRINTING 250 250
DATA COMUNICATIONS 126 130
OFFICE SUPPLIES 2000 800
POSTAGE 25 25
PROGRAMS 200 1000
TOTAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES 22353 28530 27.6%
VOLUNTEER SERVICES
COPY PRINTING 100 100
OFFICE SUPPLIES 2600 1000
POSTAGE 40 40
PROGRAMS 0 1600
TOTAL VOLUNTEER SERVICES 2740 2740 0%
MISCELLANEOUS
ALLOCATED OVERHEAD 846000 851700
EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE 100 100
EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT 13700 13700
LEGAL SERVICES 1000 1000
UTILITIES 5000 5000
TOTAL MISCELLANEOUS 865800 871500 .66%
BOTTOM LINE
STAFFING 733884 871529
STUDY CENTER 6170 6755
CIRCULATION 31128 37245
ADULT SERVICES 39160 47500
REFERENCE SERVICES 19573 25410
ADMINISTRATION 3753 4780
CHILDREN’S SERVICES 22353 28530
VOLUNTEER SERVICES 2740 2740
MISCELLANEOUS 865800 871500
TOTAL BOTTOM LINE 1724561 1895989 9.9%
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LIBR 204: Communication Study

Communicating with Non-English Language Speakers at the Paso Robles City Library

Introduction

Excellent communication skills are an essential management tool. To be successful, a manager must not only be able to communicate well in a variety of situations (face-to-face, on the phone, in writing), but must also be able to coach staff members to communicate better with both internal and external customers. Special challenges occur when serving the public, including communication with different age groups, where one might use different language levels when talking to a preschooler as opposed to talking to an adult, or communication with those who are differently abled, such as students in the high school’s special education program or an elderly person who is hard of hearing. One of the most challenging interactions in public libraries is communicating with those who speak no (or very little) English, particularly if no one on the library staff is fluent in that language. This particular difficulty is noted by Schramm in his discussions of how communication works. Schramm describes communication between two individuals as two circles of experience which overlap as the encoding and decoding process occurs; if the two individuals fail to speak the same language, then the circles never overlap and communication is impossible (1955).

This is an issue that is faced by Paso Robles City Library staff on an almost daily basis. In the City of Paso Robles, approximately 25% of the population speak a language other than English, and of those, 12% have limited English proficiency (City of Paso Robles, August 5, 2014). The majority of these are Spanish language natives, and for the purpose of this paper, this is the population that will be the focus. Currently, the Library has only two staff members who are reasonably fluent in Spanish, one of whom works part-time, and the chances are high that no one in the library will be able to converse with a Spanish-speaking patron in his native tongue when he arrives to use the library. Management have developed a multi-pronged approach for assisting this population, including helpful procedures for staff on duty, recruiting/improving staff, and use of volunteers.

Evans and Alire state that public libraries in particular present barriers to diverse library users, and may be forbidding to those who do not speak the major language in the community; it can be especially intimidating for new users who will need extra coaching and instruction in library use (2013). Currently, Paso Robles City Library staff have several options for communicating with non-English speakers. Phrase sheets are available at each service desk (Circulation, Reference, and Children’s) with the phrases most commonly needed by staff printed on them. These include directional phrases (“The bathroom is in the lobby”), instructional phrases (“We need to see something with your current address on it to issue a library card”), and correctional phrases (“There is no eating in the library”). Staff can refer to these phrase sheets to assist patrons with a variety of needs. This is a tactic that all libraries can incorporate into their service. Sometimes a patron’s needs are more than our phrase sheet can accommodate. In these instances, the business line for the Police Department can be called. The Police Department always has one or two staff on duty who are fluent in Spanish, and quite often they are the dispatchers who answer this phone line. By passing the phone back and forth between the staff and the patron, the Police staff can provide translations to answer patron-staff communication needs. While this might not be a practical solution in all libraries, it does work well for our small town (population approximately 31,000 (United States Census Bureau, December 4, 2014)). For written communication such as brochures, the City has official staff who act as translators. To achieve this qualification, full-time staff must pass a rigorous language exam; once they qualify, they receive extra pay for providing this service. When the library has written material that is in need of translation, such as registration information to get a library card, the English language version is sent to one of the City’s translators, and they prepare the document. Because there are so few translators for the City (the exam is really rigorous!), often library staff will “borrow” the services of school district employees who volunteer their time to help out. This translation is mainly done with materials for children such as our Summer Reading Program brochures. Finally, if none of these options will assist the patron, staff will often check around the library to see if there is another patron available who is fluent in Spanish. Several tutors who meet with students throughout the day have proved to be helpful in this regard. In extreme instances, staff have even been known to use Google Translate to get the message across. All of these different creative methods of communication allow staff to assist the vast majority of non-English language patrons in a satisfactory manner.

The right staff mix can lead to success when communicating with non-English language natives. Finding staff who are fluent in foreign languages is challenging; with 82% of the librarian population being white (Beveridge, June 20, 2011), and only 25% of United States residents being fluent in a second language (McComb, April 6, 2001), finding Spanish-speaking staff will continue to be a challenge. When the Paso Robles City Library recruits for any level staff positions, Spanish fluency is listed as a plus, but is not required. This is typical of many organizations, according to Evans and Alire, who acknowledge that matching a library’s staffing diversity to that of the community is generally a goal rather than an achievement due to the lack of minority candidates in the field (2013). Knowing that our staff is lacking in Spanish fluency, recruiting among Spanish-fluent librarian groups such as REFORMA should be a key part of our job advertising process. When ranking applications for interview, including Spanish-language fluency in the ranking process may ensure a greater diversity among hired staff. Another factor in hiring those with Spanish-language fluency may be advocating to change the City’s fluency exam. The current exam is one used in the social services profession, and contains a great deal of terminology used in that profession which is not used in everyday conversation. This may be why there are no library employees who are considered to be “fluent,” even when they are able to have conversations with native Spanish speakers on a regular basis. A second area of advocacy would be for part-time staff to be part of the testing process which is currently only open to full-time staff. Spanish language fluency monthly stipends could be prorated as are other part-time benefits such as vacation and sick leave. With two-thirds of library staff being part-time, this has the potential to boost the library’s Spanish-fluent staff numbers dramatically. A final area for improving staff fluency is to encourage staff to attend classes offered at our local junior college. There is educational reimbursement money available for full- and part-time staff to help defray the costs of attending school. By reminding staff of this opportunity, management may spark an interest for staff to become at least partially, if not totally, fluent.

The Paso Robles City Library has a unique approach to their use of volunteers. Rather than just using volunteers in traditional roles such as shelving or in support groups such as the Friends of the Library, volunteers are used in positions throughout the library including manning service desks, overseeing Story Times, and even copy cataloging. By opening up the volunteer program in this manner, the library has been able to recruit over 100 high caliber community members who enjoy the opportunity to provide excellent customer service and use their talents effectively. Many volunteers are retired librarians and school teachers, making them the perfect candidates to work the reference and children’s service desks. While several of the volunteers are relatively fluent in Spanish, it would be helpful to have a list of those who are (they would not have to take the fluency exam). This way, staff would know if a Spanish-fluent volunteer was working at the same time as they were; staff could ask the volunteer for assistance in translation. At the San Luis Obispo County Association of Parks and Recreation Administrators annual workshop on March 7, 2015, and group of library staff and support group members discussed the creation of and recruitment for a Spanish-fluent concierge volunteer position. If the library were able to successfully recruit several of these volunteers, they could be available for the Spanish-speaking community during specific hours, leading to a potentially greater use of the library. Management will be pursuing this idea.

Although it is challenging to meet the communication needs of every interest group in a community, once a group is identified as an underserved population, efforts should be made to assist them. Management should examine current staff resources available to them, assess and provide tools current staff need to communicate with these groups more effectively. When recruiting for new staff, including information in the job description and requirements that will encourage applicants who are versed in assisting this underserved population to apply, and, by selecting those who meet those requirements as candidates for interview, management can be sure they are doing their best to provide service to these groups. By opening up volunteer opportunities to community members, recruitment can be focused on providing service to underserved populations. In all these ways, management can make certain that the public library is truly for all members of the public they serve.

References

Beveridge, S., Weber, S., & Beveridge, A. (June 20, 2011). Librarians in the U. S. from 1880-2009  Plan [Data file]. Retrieved from http://blog.oup.com/2011/06/librarian-census/

City of Paso Robles (August 5, 2014) Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.prcity.com/government/…/pdf/…/Transit-LEPPlan8-14.pdf

Evans, G. E., & Alire, C. A. (2013). Management Basics for information professionals American Library Association

McComb, C. (April 6, 2001). About one in four Americans can hold a conversation in a second language: Spanish is by far the most frequently spoken second language. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/1825/about-one-four-americans-can-hold-conversation-second-language.aspx

Schramm, W. (1955). How communication works. The Process and Effects of Mass Communication, 3-10, 13-17.

United States Census Bureau (December 4, 2014). El Paso de Robles (Paso Robles) (city), California. State & County QuickFacts [Data file]. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0622300.html


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LIBR 204: SWOT Analysis part 5

Overall, the Paso Robles City Library is doing a remarkable job for its community, especially during the city’s continuing difficult economic times. The library, although in need of a facelift, is a pleasant place to visit with a downtown location on the main historic square adjacent to the City Park and Paso Robles Inn. The library shares a facility with City Hall offices (they are on the second floor of the building), and the Council Chambers act as a large program space for the library. The library staff is a small but dedicated group, with a large but equally dedicated group of volunteers assisting in all areas of library service. On a limited budget, staff provides quality library programs, and a popular circulating collection of materials in a variety of formats including downloadables. High speed Internet access is available during the library’s open hours. At fifty-seven open hours per week, the library is available for use more than any other library in the County. It is a combination of facility, services, and staffing that makes this library a success.

The Library building itself functions very well for both staff and the public. It is a relatively large space, about 21,000 square feet, with a nice central location, built twenty years ago. The facility’s main wall faces the City Park, and is composed of floor-to-ceiling picture windows, allowing for plenty of natural light. The Children’s area has a patio garden which can be accessed by the pubic to use as a recreational reading area or as a place to have conversations that might be too loud for the interior library environment. The library has two main program spaces; the Council Chambers and a Story Hour Room, and one small meeting room called the “Quiet Room” that is mostly used for tutoring and small group discussions. There are three services desks (circulation, reference, and children’s) and one self-checkout station. Both exterior walk up and drive through book drops are available. Staff enjoy the nice office spaces available to them; and a technical services workroom can be shared by staff and volunteers for various behind the scenes tasks. There is also a fully equipped staff kitchen with a small dining table and chairs for use by both library and city hall staff and volunteers.

The main issue with the facility is that it is showing signs of wear and tear. The carpet in particular has areas where it is buckling and there is even a rather large hole near the adult Internet computers. Because the

library has had little assistance from Public Works in several years, the carpet has not been thoroughly steam cleaned since 2007; only high traffic areas have been vacuumed regularly. The chairs in the facility also need to be replaced. Twenty years of heavy use has taken its toll on the upholstery, and the material is worn in some areas so much that the pattern cannot be distinguished. The trim on the lounge chairs has worn through and in several areas stuffing and other “insides” are visible. Many of the original chairs have been discarded due to their shabby appearance and/or the fact that their hinges have come unglued. The seating in the children’s area was replaced two years ago,

but the replacement furniture has proven to be inadequate as several of the wooden chairs have broken or cracked and are already in need of replacement. The shelving signage is also in need of replacement; the lettering used for the signage resembled Lego blocks that snapped into a frame; the frames and letters are still in good shape, but many of the letters have gone missing and the company no longer manufactures them. Fortunately, the Library Foundation has stated that its fundraising efforts for the next few years will focus on this facelift effort. The purchase of new solid wooden chairs is already underway, and they are starting to look into carpeting using carpet squares which can be easily replaced in the heavy traffic areas as needed. Endcap signage should be removed, even if it is to be replaced with laminated staff-created signs in the short term.

Library services overall are remarkable, particularly considering the library’s budget and staffing challenges. Although little formal collection development has been done for the past few years, librarians have been keeping up with the most requested bestsellers as well as high demand items such as “Battle of the Books” titles. The Cooperative shares a downloadable catalog including eBooks, eAudio, eMagazines, and eVideo selections. The California section is an excellent archive for a library serving 30,000 people, and the library has a system whereby titles donated to the library are added to the database if they meet certain criteria. The library has been focusing on weeding the collection of worn or disused items. The library provides five different story time opportunities for children: Mother Goose on the Loose, Toddler Story time, Pajama Story Time, Grandparents and Books, and the more traditional Preschool Story Time. There is a monthly book group meeting for adults. In addition to these ongoing programs, there are monthly themed programs for children and

quarterly programs for adults. The library provides a robust Summer Reading Program for all ages with entertaining and educational programs available in addition to the traditional reading-for-prizes. Public Internet access is provided via high speed internet connections on library desktop computers or via Wi-Fi on the patron’s own device. Computer equipment is on a city-wide replacement schedule, and is replaced every three years. Items from other libraries are accessed through the Cooperative’s shared ILS system or through WorldCat. Paso Robles City Library is the only public library in the County charging an affordable fee (only $2.00 per item) for ILL; other libraries in the County charge $15.00 per item for this service.

The difficulties in providing excellent library services are twofold, namely budget and staffing, both of which are woefully lacking in numbers. During the economic downturn, the library was asked to cut its materials spending 25%. While this was not a problem for the first couple years, as this amount has remained stagnant and the price of materials and fees has increased dramatically, the library has been unable to provide prior years’ numbers of volumes added or achieve any kind of subject collection updating. If not for the monies raised by the Friends of the Library, there would be virtually no collection purchasing at all. Program cutbacks have been relatively invisible to the public; the number of programs has not decreased greatly because librarians have been creative with their programming dollars. Although staffing costs were not cut in the same way as the materials budget, it is still true that staffing number are greatly reduced due to attrition. The city has an extensive layoff prevention plan which was activated in 2007 and is still in place today. As a result of the layoff prevention plan, several staff retired with incentive packages and others found new jobs or relocated for a variety of reasons. During the layoff prevention, these positions are not replaced, thus reducing the staffing portion of the budget. In the past few years, the library has been able to fill positions when staff leave, but the numbers overall are still down 40% from pre-recession years. Solutions to this state of affairs include covering desk shifts with volunteers when appropriate (our volunteer program is another whole essay in itself) or asking staff working “off desk” to assume “on desk” shifts. This has led to fewer librarians being available for either collection development or programming functions.

This brings us to the topic of current staffing. The Paso Robles City Library operates with only 16 staff

(9 FTE), most of whom are part-time (meaning they are not able to work more than 999 hours per year). Of the 16, only two are librarians, the Library Manager and the Children’s Services Librarian. The library’s Volunteer Coordinator also works in this same job classification, and by necessity has been trained to work at all three service desks. One full-time staff assistant and three part-time library assistants round out the lead staff; the remainder cannot oversee the library without a lead staff present. In addition, the library has approximately 130 volunteers, each offering about fours hours per week as unpaid employees. This staff truly runs like a well-oiled machine, achieving an amazing amount of work in the time available while serving the public cheerfully and well. That said, the obvious challenge in staffing is the numbers. The library clearly needs more librarian-level staffing, ideally replacing at least the Reference Services Librarian and Technical Services Librarian, freeing up time primarily for the Library Manager and to a lesser extent the Children’s Services Librarian to focus on other duties such as programming, collection development, and staff training. Replacing several part-time library assistants would also help the librarians as they would no longer have to cover as many desk shifts.

While the Paso Robles City Library does have several challenges to overcome as the economy recovers, they are fortunate to have positive assets such as a nice facility in which to provide service, a more than adequate level of public service, and particularly, an amazing staff. By continuing to maintain its open hours, the library acts as a community gathering place.


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LIBR 204: SWOT Analysis part 4

Threats

Facility: Misbehaving patrons; Shabby furnishings may deter some patrons from using library.

Staff: Some staff refuse cross-training opportunities; Lead staff need to take the lead more; All staff need to walk around during their shifts to discourage patron misbehavior and to better serve the public.

Budget: City infrastructure, safety, and water issues override library needs; Budget insufficient for current needs, let alone additional programs; Cooperative looking to increase costs for participating in shared ILS by tying it in to materials budget.

Programs: Many other demands for patrons’ free time; Flat budget; Library staff time needed to set up/break down program area — no support from Public Works as in prior years due to their own staff reductions; No funds and somewhat complex procedures to add Internet access computers to library fleet.

Collections: User demand for materials may decrease as they find answers elsewhere; New formats may appear, further draining our monetary resources as demand for that format type increases.


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LIBR 204: SWOT Analysis part 3

Opportunities

Facility: Furnishings, flooring and signage can be replaced; Collections can be weeded/reorganized to make room for new/different materials.

Staff: Free/low cost training available through InfoPeople and other organizations; Problems can be addressed by scheduling regular quarterly all-library-staff meetings; unfilled positions can be filled.

Budget: Governing body in “recovery plan” process; Friends/Foundation grants could be pursued; Service clubs in city may be willing to donate funding for materials/programs.

Programs: More partnership with agencies for programming; New venues for marketing such as high school newspaper; Online opportunities such as online book group; Increase fleet size for Internet computers.

Collections: Special Interest groups such as Wine Country Alliance may be interested in purchasing subject collections (such as wine materials) selected by the librarian; Friends and Foundation fundraising efforts improving so they may be able to donate more toward our materials; Governing body may include materials budget enhancements in “recovery plan.”


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LIBR 204: SWOT Analysis part 2

Weaknesses

Facility: Furnishings and carpet are 20 years old; Minimum janitorial/maintenance service being provided; Signage in disrepair; No room for growth; Staff office space is maxed out.

Staff: Current numbers are down 40% from mid-2000’s; Few staff training opportunities; Some staff unwilling to address patron behavior problems; Missing key librarian staff including Adult Services, Reference Services, Technical Services which leaves Library Manager to cover all.

Budget: Has been flat for past 5 years — projected to be flat until at least 2017; Cost of materials, particularly office supplies, continues to increase; Cooperative system changed fee structure resulting in a large increase in our membership fees; New governing body members have priorities other than the library; No extra staff to pursue/manage grants.

Programming: Marketing of programs needs to be more consistent; Attendance at programs, particularly adult programs, could be better; Outreach opportunities few; Only 8 unfiltered adult Internet and 4 filtered children’s computers sometimes means long wait times for computer use.

Collections: Little budget money to spend on materials; Prices for print materials continue to rise; Staffing shortages don’t allow for true collection development; Teen collection needs better location and needs to include non-fiction and AV titles now housed in adult area.


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LIBR 204: SWOT Analysis part 1

Strengths

Facility: Relatively new building; Aquarium; Natural light; Downtown location; Adequate seating; Children’s area separate from adult area; Story Hour Room; Conference Room; Staff workroom with full kitchen adjacent; Friends Store; Plenty of parking; City Hall on second floor.

Staff: ALL staff work together to achieve goals; Strong vital volunteer program (unique in California, maybe U.S.); Excellent customer service; Good communication between staff at all levels; Willingness to seek new opportunities; Staff willing to work at the “upper edges” of their job descriptions to get the work done; Longevity — most staff have been working for us for ten years or more; Good pay and benefits even for part-time staff.

Budget: City budget is stable; Friends and Foundation are contributing more.

Programs: Children’s Librarian has started many new programs and enhanced others without much increase in spending, including new baby story time, Family programming such as Peeps Diorama Contest and film nights; Adult Book group now active for 17 years; Bringing in additional free adult programming by partnering with outside agencies; Three Summer Reading Program options (Children’s, Teen and Adult); More open hours than any other in County thanks to volunteer program; Inter-Library Loan services are offered for a reasonable price; Free Public Internet Access is available

Collections: Wide variety of materials types available; Shared downloadable collections for eBooks, eAudio, eMagazines, and eVideo access; Useful databases that can be accessed from home; Ongoing weeding program to free up shelf space for current materials; Displays integrated into collection space to promote various subjects