Presented to the City Council on September 19, 2018, was a “Receive and File” report on the Library’s progress in meeting the goals of its ambitious “Library Operations Study, Final Report, April 12, 2016. ”The report was accompanied by a presentation and a chart with the individual status of each of the 56 recommendations stated that 19 of the primary goals of the LOS recommendations have been completed, 21 are in progress, and 16 are not done.
The 37-page “South Pasadena Public Library Operations Study” (LOS) by Library Planning Consultant Joe Matthews was initially approved by the Library Board of Trustees (LBT) and then presented to the City Council as a Receive and File item on May 4, 2016. The goals related to the 56 LOS recommendations were then prioritized in order of urgency and their reachability. 40 of the 56 recommendations of the LOS were reported as being either completed or in progress. Some of those not been done are not yet possible because of a Lack of funding or other shortages. It should be noted that many of the projects listed as completed, such as “rightsizing the collection and “reducing the number of print subscriptions” are ongoing.
To start the Library Operations Study process in 2015, an in-depth survey seeking widespread input from community members, both library users and nonusers alike, was developed by Joe Matthews with assistance from the LBT and the staff. It asked for the community’s responses to questions regarding the Library’s services, resources, and needs and was widely publicized and distributed. More than 700 completed LOS surveys were gathered, received and tabulated. A public forum was presented in the Community Room for the general public, community stakeholders, the LBT, the Friends of the Library (FOL), and staff. An invitation to the forum had been mailed to all community clubs and organizations asking them to each send at least one representative. More than 50 attended and commented on the survey results and contributed their opinions.
At various times during the formulation of the LOS draft, Joe Matthews also conducted one-on-one interviews with members of the LBT, FOL staff, and community stakeholders. Consultant Matthews also conducted field trips with LBT and staff members to the Alhambra, Arcadia, Monrovia, Monterey Park, and San Marino public libraries. Consultant Matthews then surveyed the participants for what they liked and didn’t particularly care for about each of the libraries and their websites. All of the input was recorded for the development of the first draft of the Library Operations Study which was presented to the LBT and staff who worked together for the finalized LOS.
After the finalized LOS was presented at the City Council meeting on May 4, 2016, a copy was posted on the City website and announcements about its completion and location were widely disseminated. Community members were also informed that a paper copy of the LOS could be obtained for the asking at the Library. Copies of the LOS were also mailed to all South Pasadena clubs and organizations.
The finalized LOS includes 56 recommendations that are categorized into 8 groups:
· Youth Services
· Organizational Structure
· Using Data
The Library Operations Study also includes a Prioritization Framework matrix that contains the following 12 key improvement recommendations:
· Fiber optic internet link
· First floor renovations
· Improved Wi-Fi connection
· Increase Internet workstations
· Resource acquisition with full processing
· “Right size” the collection
· Reinvent the Library website
· Increase the number of e-Resources
· Shared Integrated Library System
· Create a Library foundation
· Prepare a space allocation study
· Develop performance measures
The two most pressing of the 56 recommendations, the addition of a broadband fiber optic link for public and staff computers and improved Wi-Fi were both accomplished in 2016, with more Wi-Fi connectors added throughout the Library and Community Room in 2017. These were achieved with the successful application to the California State Library’s Corporation for Network Initiatives (CENIC) grant program and use of the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), which now provides 1 gigabit high speed connection. Reduced telecommunications charges are achieved using a membership in the nonprofit Califa consortium the California Teleconnect fund (CTF) and the Universal Service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as “E-Rate.”
Next came the purchase of 13 new computers with funding for them coming from a class action settlement related to price fixing of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) computers. All of the computers have been received, with some already installed while others are part of the first floor re-organization of the first floor of the Library.
The Library website is now more robust and attractive and a broader array of library e-resources is available through it. These include downloadable films, digital magazines and comics, a more sizeable assortment of e-books and audiobooks, and an online suggested reading service. The recommended staff reorganization is also well underway with the Assistant Library Director on board for about a year and a half and a new recruitment for the Digital Services Librarian to commence soon.
The size of the Library physical book collection has been significantly reduced in size with an increased emphasis on popularity. Exceptionally slow or non- moving items have been weeded to create more available space that is greatly needed. Reference books have been incorporated into the circulating collection when appropriate and arrangements have been made with the vendor for the acquisition of pre-processed books. Donated books are not being added to the collection except in the cases of Local History or Ray Bradbury-related items. A self-check machine has been installed on the first floor and an interior design consultant was hired to develop a makeover plan for the first floor and the renderings have been completed.
For more than a year, meetings related to the formation of a Library Foundation –or another large scale library fundraising group– have been held using a subcommittee of the LBT. A successful new library fundraising group is especially necessary with the multitude of unfunded LOS goals either in progress or not yet done. The LOS came at a time when the City and FOL are not able to cover all the costs to meet the goals of the LOS- related projects.
It is worth noting that since the finalized LOS representing new costs for the Library has been completed, three other reports have been released which contain additional new costs for the Library’s improvement. They are the Facilities Assessment which shows that the Library has one of the largest needs in the City for infrastructure/maintenance funding, the “Library Strategic Plan, 2017-2022” and an Interior Design Plan for the Library’s first floor entryway area that was prepared by a highly regarded Library Interior Design Consultant.
At present, the most important LOS item for implementation is the establishment of another major fundraising group, expected to be under the organizational umbrella of the FOL. A subcommittee of the LBT and the FOL have been meeting for the past year and the most necessary launch is expected soon.