Saturday, January 22, 2011

U.S. Mayors Continue to Face Tough Choices

[That's John Dickert, Racine Mayor, in the bottom-right photo.]

Mayors See No End to Hard Choices for Cities. (The New York Times, 1/22/2011)

Excerpt: Many mayors have already raised taxes, cut services and laid off workers, even police and firefighters. Now they are girding themselves for more tough times, as falling home values are belatedly showing up in property tax assessments, and struggling states are threatening to cut aid to cities.


"Taxpayers don’t want to keep seeing their tax bills go up,” he [Christopher Coleman, St. Paul MN Mayor] said. “But as unhappy as they are about that, try to close a library sometime.” [Emphasis added.]

Marquette County: A Half Century of Growth in Public Library Use

Part 38 of a county-by-county overview.

Marquette County:
Population and Circulation, 1960-2009

Marquette County, 1960-2009

Marquette County public libraries

Endeavor Public Library

Montello Public Library

Neshkoro Public Library

Oxford Public Library

Packwaukee Public Library

Ethel Everhard Memorial Library, Westfield

Marquette County is a member of the Winnefox Library System.

Banker to Lead Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries

Link to CML news release

New libraries CEO brings banking skills to tough job.   (Charlotte Observer, 1/22/2011)

Excerpt: This shift in power has handed [Vick] Phillips a daunting task: In March, a report is due on how the library should be run in the future, and he must put it into action.

Final recommendations are still weeks away, but early discussion by the Future of the Library Task Force hints at a vastly different library system.

Among the questions being posed:

Why is ImaginOn part of the library when it's not mainly a library? Could it become the responsibility of some other entity, like the county?

Given trends in electronic reading, why not have some branches with nothing but computers, rather than paper reading materials?

Should the library be a department of county government, as is the case with every other system the task force has studied, or should it remain independent?

"We've got to put all of these things on the table, given the circumstances we are in," says Jim Woodward, who is chairing the task force.

"You're going to see this task force come up with a number of recommendations that ... if adopted, will bring substantial change."

Phillips says some of the changes will happen quickly, while others will take more time. Either way, he says, the public could be surprised by the results.

Library board of trustees Chair Robin Branstrom has hinted at what's ahead by saying the system needed "transformational leadership."

The trustees see Phillips as up to the job, based on a resume that includes 32 years of working with banks that merged time and time again to form Charlotte-based Bank of America.

"Those were big years for the banking industry in Charlotte, and he was very involved in major transitions when they'd make new acquisitions," says library board trustee Sally Robinson. It has not escaped some on the library's staff that Phillips is a businessman, not a librarian. In fact, he admits that he knows nothing about running a library system. However, trustees such as Robinson believe Phillips will quickly win over doubters

Related articles:
And what about the cost of a joint library-county study committee?  (12/22/2010)
The future does not look bright.  (12/9/2010)
Library boosts fines, fees.  (11/23/2010)
CML libraries and parks:  Survey says...  (10/26/2010)
Future of the library task force.  (10/21/2010)
Volunteers to the rescue.  (10/17/2010)
Charlotte Observer to Harry Jones:  Check your ego at the door.  (9/21/2010)
County manager regrets hitting the 'send' key. (9/18/2010)
Library steering committee veers into off-road territory.  (9/15/2010)
Bank of America and Carolina Panthers kick off library fundraising campaign. (9/14/2010)
Another branch extends hours thanks to volunteer support.  (9/12/2010)
Volunteers step up.  (9/10/2010)
2 branch libraries to open one more day per week.  (9/5/2010)
Library urban legend in the making?  (9/4/2010)
Library launches pilot program to expand hours with volunteers.  (8/31/2010)
Group to study county library merger.  (7/28/2010)
Book stores help out the library.  (7/21/2010)
Libraries hope to expand hours with volunteers at 4 branches.  (7/20/2010)
Another change in hours.  (7/18/2010)
Matthews branch library sends out plea for volunteers.  (7/13/2010)
Most county commissioners cool to sales tax hike.  (7/9/2010)
New hours in effect.  (7/6/2010)
Charlotte Observer editorial board laments the passing of the Novello Festival of the Book.  (6/28/2010)
Shuttered branch could  become Friends' used book store.  (6/25/2010)
A reduced future.  (6/23/2010)
Interlocal cooperation pact.  (6/22/2010)
Three branches close.  (6/19/2010)
Town of Mint Hill perspective.  (6/18/2010)
Five towns tentatively OK $730,000 for libraries.  (6/18/2010)
Carmel, two other branches to close.  (6/16/2010)
Now that the ax has fallen.  (6/16/2010)
Commissioners to vote on budget today.  (6/15/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries:  It's complicated.  (6/9/2010)
Mayor wins straw vote at emotional council meeting.  (6/7/2010)
Editorial:  Should city 'stay in its lane' on libraries.  (6/4/2010)
County commissioners restore some cuts to libraries.  (6/4/2010)
Straw votes begin on Mecklinburg County budget.  (6/3/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries continue to look for one-time financial help.  (5/31/2010)
High school junior speaks out eloquently for libraries.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor Foxx on the art of governing.  (5/30/2010)
Mayor supports financial help for library.  (5/27/2010)
County budget:  Oh, yeah, this is fair.  (5/25/2010)
Bailout proposal not gaining traction.  (5/23/2010)
Library trustees vote to close 4 branches.  (5/20/2010)
Mecklenburg County tightens its belt.  (5/20/2010)
County manager cuts $14.7 million from library budget.  (5/18/2010)
2010-11 Mecklenburg County budget to be unveiled today.  (5/18/2010)
North Carolina woman plans on "going straight to the top" to keep Charlotte libraries open.  (5/16/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg officials ask local municipalities for $3 million contribution.  (4/30/2010Library Board chair speaks out.  (4/25/2010)
County commissioners seek ways to ease library cuts.  (4/23/2010)
Mecklenburg County needs to reduce $85-90 million deficit.  (4/16/2010)
County manager takes library board to task.  (4/10/2010)
Libraries now open fewer hours.  (4/6/2010)
"Save Our Libraries Sunday".  (3/29/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg users owe average of 55 cents in fines.  (3/27/2010)
Library announces new hours for branches.  (3/26/2010)
Library Board applies a Band-Aid to its bleeding system.  (3/25/2010)
Follow-up on Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board vote.  (3/25/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board votes to keep all branches open.  (3/24/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board presented with 2 budget-cutting alternatives.  (3/24/2010)
More and bigger cuts looming on horizon. (3/23/2010)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System Rethinks Closings. (3/22/2010)
A New Day is Dawning in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County. (3/21/2010)

Massachusetts Communities to See Continued Cuts in State Aid

Patrick plan would slash local aid. But his proposal would boost funds for schools, roads. (Boston Globe, 1/22/2011)

Excerpt: The governor’s proposed $65 million cut in local aid would mark the fourth consecutive year that the money — which helps pay for police officers, firefighters, senior centers, and other local services — has been reduced. Local aid has been cut by 32 percent, or $416 million, over the last three years, according to the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Municipal officials, who were bracing for a local aid cut in the budget year that begins July 1, nevertheless expressed chagrin that the account would be slashed again. They said it would inevitably trigger further cuts in communities that have already laid off workers in schools and town halls, closed libraries and firehouses, and reduced other basic services

Related articles:
Massachusetts municipalities adjust to the 'new normal'.  (11/8/2010)
Just what you'd expect: Cuts in state aids to localities result in layoffs and service cuts. (7/5/2010)
Massachusetts state budget includes cuts in aid to cities and towns. (6/24/2010)

Congratulations to Tasha Saecker on her Selection as Appleton Public Library Assistant Director

Menasha library director Saecker resigns to take job in Appleton.   (Appleton Post-Crescent, 2/21/2011)

Excerpt: Tasha Saecker, hired in 2006 as director of the Menasha Public Library, has resigned to take the No. 2 job at the Appleton Public Library.

Saecker, 43, has accepted the job as assistant director at the Appleton library, which recently elevated assistant director Colleen Rortvedt to director to replace Terry Dawson who retired this month.

“It’s a larger facility, larger community, a larger library so it offers new challenges for me,” said Saecker, who will start her new duties Feb. 28. “They’re also looking at a new building project, which interests me.”

The Menasha Library Board accepted her resignation last week.

“Tasha has been instrumental in moving the Menasha Library fully into the digital era,” said Jill Enos, Library Board president. “She’s been a tremendous asset to our community and provided great leadership to our employees. She will be missed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unhappy Times Continues at Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

RG photo for illustrative purposes only.

Book weeding, changes stir debate at Central Library. (Buffalo News, 1/21/2011)

Excerpt:   The removal of so many library books has become a flash point for some librarians.

Both librarians and administrators say libraries must weed their collections for books that are in bad shape, contain outdated material or are rarely checked out. The library maintains a “dusty book list” for books that have not circulated in five years.

But what has happened since October goes far beyond that, with thousands of books winding up in bins marked Metro Waste Paper Recovery (now owned by recycler Cascades Recovery), said a librarian who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

“We were instructed by the administration that anything that was a duplicate, even if it was a popular title, or books that hadn’t been checked out since 2008 were to be taken for a book sale. But not all of them made it to the book sale,” the librarian said.

The librarian claims to have seen 18 large bins full of books discarded for recycling in the past three months. “It was against all weeding policies that we have ever learned. I couldn’t do it. It was horrible. It’s not what I do,” the librarian said.

Related articles:
Library officials ask for final decision on budget. (12/22/2010)
Additional funding for library but not for arts groups.  (12/12/2010)
Legislators restore County Executive's $4,000,000 cut to library - for now.  (12/2/2010)
"No more worthwhile program of service".  (11/14/2010)
A bibliopocalypse @ the library.  (11/6/2010)
WBEN online poll offers 3 general options for public library future. (10/31/2010)
Reimagining the library.  (10/27/2010)
Budget cuts = reduced hours.  (10/21/2010)
Deep cuts (again) in the works.  (9/17/2010)
Editorial puts in 'a word about libraries'.  (8/30/2010)
Library could lose 25% of funding.  (8/19/2009)

Spotted (Not Surprisingly) on the Upper Parking Level of Helen C. White Hall

Outcry Over Scheduled Library Showing of 'Sicko' in Connecticut

Library Cancels Showing Of 'Sicko'. (Hartford Courant, 1/21/2011.
Republican leaders deny orchestrating outcry over 'Sicko' in Enfield.  (Journal-Enquirer, 1/21/2011)
Enfield Public Library censors 'Sicko'.  (My Left Nutmeg, 1/21/2011)

Link to Connecticut Library Association press round-up.

Challenges for Google

Page takes the helm with Google facing big questions.  (San Jose Mercury News, 1/21/2011)

Excerpt:    Page's to-do list starts with Google's core product: search. Quality is extremely hard to measure, but in recent months there has been growing criticism that Google search results are not as good as they used to be. Page needs to quickly clean up results that observers feel are being polluted by, among other things, people who have learned how to game Google's algorithm so that their websites appear higher up in search results.

Beyond that, Internet search is on the verge of a big moment of disruption. While Google still dominates traditional search, Microsoft's Bing has made impressive gains in market share and is earning a reputation for innovative features.

And more searches are occurring on social sites like Facebook, which are closed to Google.

Which leads to Page's second big challenge: social networking

Remaining 3 challenges:  product development, acquisitions, mobile.

Charleston SC Library Worker Featured in Pushback Ad Against Sen. Lindsey Graham

Thanks to an alert from Crown Point Classics. (?)

TV ad to Graham; Don't raise SS age. (Rock Hill Herald, 1/21/2011)

Excerpt: A Washington-based liberal advocacy group said Friday it is launching a new television ad taking U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to task over comments about changing the Social Security retirement age.

"I love my job. But I'm in pain every day at work," Agnes Pomata says in the TV spot from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "I have a torn rotator cuff from carrying books. My hands have been numb at work. There are times when people come up with stacks of books, and I want to cry."

Now 59 years old, Pomata says she is just trying to work through the pain until she can retire at age 62, when she will qualify to retire with Social Security benefits.

"Now, Sen. Lindsey Graham says he wants to raise the Social Security retirement age," the woman says. "Sen. Graham, people like me just won't make it."

The ad's launch comes three weeks after Graham discussed Social Security on NBC's "Meet the Press." On Jan. 2, in response to a question about raising the debt ceiling, Graham mentioned adjusting the Social Security age as being among possible reforms to manage long-term debt

If my Google search results refer to the same person, Agnes Pomata appears to be active in South Carolina Democratic/progressive politics.  (Example.)  I just hope that nobody took any liberties with the truth in the production of the above video.

Manitowoc Public Library Director on the Changing Nature of Libraries

Libraries changing: Library's role grows with expanding data. (Herald-Times-Tribune, 1/21/2011)

Excerpt: Recently we had a teachable moment at our house. My son posted a message on his Facebook page about a girl who committed suicide after her father posted something on her Facebook page. The headline was shocking and disturbing.

But when you tried to click through and find out more information, the details would not be revealed until you answered survey questions that included your phone number and e-mail address. Turns out, this is a scam and an attempt to send a virus to your computer. Fortunately, my son didn't follow the links or give out any personal information. But it could so easily happen.

In a world of easy access to billions of pieces of information it is not always easy to tell fact from fiction. It's easy to be tricked. I thought the information age was supposed to make life easier, simpler. In some ways it certainly has done that. Using maps has changed, finding phone numbers, keeping in touch with friends and family through e-mail and social networking.

But this era comes with a new complication. We need skills to interpret the information, to think critically and be suspect of what appears on the computer screen. Librarians call this information literacy

Related articles:
Reorganization plan affects staff morale.  (1/21/2011)
Staffing Changes in the Works at the Manitowoc Public Library. (12/24/2010)

Manitowoc Public Library Reorganization Plan Affects Staff Morale

Manitowoc library reorganization plan draws fire. (Herald-Times-Reporter, 1/21/2011)

Excerpt:   Reorganization and staffing are not on the agenda for the 5:30 p.m. Monday meeting of the Manitowoc Public Library Board of Trustees.

But those topics may be presented during the public input session, and the board is scheduled to go into closed session to discuss grievances recently filed by library union workers.

"The morale among library employees is at an all-time low because of this reorganization plan and making it appear that years of experience has little bearing on the ability for staff to do their job compared to having a college degree," said Amy Eisenschink, a 20-year employee and technical services associate.

Library Director Cherilyn Stewart and David Gratz, trustees president, said last month the goal was to bring in new hires with appropriate academic backgrounds and skills to better serve patrons' needs

Related article:
Staffing Changes in the Works at the Manitowoc Public Library. (12/24/2010)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Taking the No-Taxes Pledge b/w Looking for an Opening

On Monday, January, 17 the New York Times published this "cavalry-is-coming!" analysis of new governors' inauguration addresses. Budget Worries Push Governors to Same Mind-Set.

Excerpt: The dismal fiscal situation in many states is forcing governors, despite their party affiliation, toward a consensus on what medicine is needed going forward.

The prescription? Slash spending. Avoid tax increases. Tear up regulations that might drive away business and jobs. Shrink government, even if that means tackling the thorny issues of public employees and their pensions.

Three days later, we have this.  (And it's a take-your-pick headline option, folks!)

Apparently, it was a short-lived mind-set.  Not everyone accepted the power of the mind meld.

Raise Taxes? Some States See the Value. (Print)

Higher Taxes Wouldn’t End Some Deficits. (Online)

Excerpt: For other states, though, such a tax increase would go much further in addressing at least the short-term problems. In Arizona, for instance, legislators during the last 17 years repeatedly cut income taxes, opening an annual hole of nearly $2 billion. That sum, according to Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, approximates the size of the state’s annual deficit without taking into account the recession-driven drop in revenue.

Matthew N. Murray, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who has studied state fiscal problems for the Brookings Institution, said: “In Illinois, the stark reality of the cataclysmic nature of their budget reality drove this income tax increase. But we’re going to see more states raising taxes over the course of the next few years largely because there’s only so much cutting you can do.

“It’s getting to be a cold winter out there.”

The Tax Foundation, no friend of tax increases, noted recently that many states face gaping revenue shortfalls and forecast that “2011 may be a year of dramatic tax increases

Marinette County: A Half-Century of Growth in Public Library Use

Well, 40-some years, anyway.

Part 37 of a county-by-county overview.

Marinette County:
Population and Circulation, 1960-2009

Marinette County, 1960-2009

Guess I'll have to check back later.

Community Library Municipalities Discuss Contract Changes

Municipalities discuss Twin Lakes Community Library contract changes.  (West of the I, 1/18/2011)

Excerpt:   The five member municipalities are Salem, Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake.

Twin Lakes Village President Howard Skinner acknowledged that some costs for the library need to be paid out of a common pool, like administration. However, he said his municipality would like to see surplus funds be desiugnated for spending in the municipalities where they came from.

“What we’re looking to do … is to make the agreement more equitable for all parties,” Skinner said.

But Paddock Lake village President and Library Board member Marlene Goodson attacked the idea that funds should be segregated as Skinner suggested, emphasizing that the joint library is built around all parities contributing to wherever money needs to be spent. She also said the Salem building is the main library for the system and that the other locations — in Silver Lake and Twin Lakes — are not true branches but “glorified bookmobiles.”

“If you feel you wanted a library, why are you part of the Community Library system?” Goodson asked Skinner. “It’s fair for (Twin Lakes funds) to go the the library (as a whole)

Community Library in the news:
Twin Lakes to stay in Community Library.  (11/23/2010)
More library disagreements.  (11/13/2010)
Stakeholders agree to postpone to disagree.  (10/22/2010)
DWD Equal Rights Division:  No discrimination on Community Library case.  (10/18/2010)
Need for more space at Twin Lakes/Randall Branch of Community Library.  (8/23/2010)
More disagreements at Community Library.  (5/25/2010)
Maggie Rivals Dewey for Attention.  (5/24/2010)
Board Member Raises Objections to Library Cat.  (5/9/2010)
New Director Hired.  (4/20/2010)
A Library Board Appointment Not According to Hoyle.  (4/13/2010)
Former Library Director Sues for Wages after Firing.  (3/16/2010)
Position Announcement:  Library Executive Director, Community Library, Salem, Wisconsin.  (2/5/2010)
Former Director of Community Library: From Demotion to Dismissal. (1/29/2010)
 Community Library Board Member Wields Machete to Address $1,000 Deficit. (12/06/2009)
New Community Library Representative to Wilmot School Board
. (11/11/2009)
Demoted director to fight for job
. (10/30/2009)
Library Board confirms interim director. (10/27/2009)
Community Library Soap Opera Continues
. (10/23/2009)
Community Library Update: "What we have here is...failure to communicate. (10/09/2009)
Community Library Board of Trustees: Riding Roughshod? (10/01/2009)
Library Board's "Positive Direction" Takes an Immediate Detour. (9/30/2009)
West county library group under fire. (1/29/2009)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Marathon County: A Half-Century of Growth in Public Library Use

Part 36 of a county-by-county overview

Marathon County:
Population and Circulation*, 1960-2009
Source:  Wisconsin Public Library Service Data (1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2009)

*I'm not sure if Marathon County's 1960 and 1970 circulation totals -- 1,093,552 and 1,730,491, respectively -- can be totally explained by the inclusion of public school library circulations, as we have seen elsewhere in the state.  At least in 1960.  How does a county lose nearly a million circs in a single decade?

For this reason, I have only used Wausau's and Mosinee's circulations for 1960 and 1970.  Both libraries are listed separately from the "Marathon County Library" in these two volumes of the Wisconsin Public Library Service Data.  

Marathon County formed a consolidated county library in 1974.

Marathon County, 1960-2009

Marathon County Public Library

Marathon County is a member of the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.

Gary Public Library Director Recommends Closing Main Library

Main branch must close, says library director.  (Post-Tribune, 1/19/2011)

Excerpt: Trustees of the city's "People's University" chafed at the public library director's recommendation to close the Main Branch, 220 W. 5th Ave., in the face of a funding crisis.

The board had until March to decide which, if any, branches will be closed to slash its operating budget from more than $5 million to about $2.4 million annually due to property tax caps, low tax collection rates and other factors.

Sherri Ervin, who once worked for Gary libraries and took over as director in November 2008, said she chose the first of five scenarios after a report from a financial consultant last December and an architect's report from 2009.

"We know this (Main Branch) needs a lot of work," Ervin said after a policy meeting Tuesday. "It's just a very hard decision with us being in the heart of downtown Gary

Related articles:
Library looking at 50% budget cut.  (12/12/2010)
Gary Indiana: Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome. (1/9/2010)
Kennedy Branch:  When it rains, it pours.  (1/9/2010)

Prairie du Sac Library Project to Get Underway This Year

Full speed ahead for library. (Sauk Prairie Eagle, 1/12/2011)

Excerpt: The Prairie du Sac Library Board announced at its meeting Jan. 5 that it has $2,225,983 in its coffers for renovating the former Culver's Franchising Building at 540 Water St. and turning it into the Ruth Culver Community Library.

The estimated time line is to begin construction late summer 2011 with completion during the summer of 2012.

Related articles:
$500,000 gift boosts Prairie du Sac's Library fundraising effort.  (10/26/2010)
Building committee votes to extend fundraising effort for new Prairie du Sac library.  (8/23/2010)
The Ruth Culver Memorial Library.  (6/4/2009)
Culver's donates facility for new Prairie du Sac Library.  (5/22/2009)

Hats in the Ring: Wisconsin's 94th Assembly District

Business owner enters 94th race. (La Crosse Tribune, 1/19/2011)

Excerpt: Hetland, 54, is a Subway restaurant owner and operator who vowed to keep one foot in private enterprise and one in public service if elected this spring. He announced his candidacy Tuesday afternoon at the public library in West Salem.

Gov. Scott Walker has yet to call a special election in the suburban La Crosse district, but a primary is expected to coincide with the spring election April 5. The general election likely would follow in May.

Democrat Steve Doyle and Republican Lynnetta Kopp already have announced their plans. And La Crosse County Board Supervisor Ray Ebert and failed 2008 and 2010 Democratic candidate Cheryl Hancock both have registered with the state’s Government Accountability Board

On the web.....

As of today, Cheryl Hancock is still weighing her options.

Mike Huebsch, the former office-holder, was appointed by Governor Walker to serve as Department of Administration Secretary.

Not mentioned in the article:   Jake Speed.