Saturday, April 16, 2011

Detroit Public Library's Downward Spiral

Detroit library could close most of its branches. (Detroit News, 4/15/2011)

Excerpt:   The Detroit Public Library could close most of its neighborhood branches and lay off more than half of its workers because of an $11 million shortfall caused by plunging tax collections.

One month after laying off 80 workers, library administrators said deeper cuts are needed and outlined three options: Shut 18 of 23 branches and lay off 191 of the remaining 333 workers; 15 branches and 163 workers; or 12 branches and 135 workers.

Whatever course commissioners who oversee the system choose in May, residents in an economically challenged city with a functional illiteracy rate of 47 percent are likely to suffer.

"We are really running out of options to maintain the viability of the system," said Anthony Adams, a library commissioner. "I don't see too many ways to avoid not doing something draconian. Every day we don't act is a day we are digging a deeper hole for ourselves."

The proposed cuts are the latest casualty for a city struggling with plunging property values and population. Largely funded through a 4.63-mill property tax, the system faces a revenue shortfall of 20 percent per year until at least 2015, administrators estimate. The tax that generated $40 million in 2010 is expected to produce only $14 million by 2015.

The list of targeted branches stretches throughout the city and could force residents to drive several miles to one. The most severe option leaves the entire northeast side of Detroit without a branch. And that's outraged users who have been flocking to the system in part because of the economy. Visits rose 20 percent since 2007 to 4.9 million a year

Related articles:
Library reduces staff by 20%. (3/4/2011)
Budget woes. (2/5/2011)

Rick Snyderville: This is NOT What Democracy Looks Like

The latest red-hot rumor.

Gov. Scott Walker Reportedly Planning Financial Martial Law In Wisconsin. (Forbes, 4/16/2011)

Excerpt:  Reports are surfacing that Scott Walker is now preparing his next assault on the democratic political process in the State of Wisconsin.

Following the lead of Michigan GOP Governor Rick Snyder, Walker is said to be preparing a plan that would allow him to force local governments to submit to a financial stress test with an eye towards permitting the governor to take over municipalities that fail to meet with Walker’s approval.

According to the reports, should a locality’s financial position come up short, the Walker legislation would empower the governor to insert a financial manager of his choosing into local government with the ability to cancel union contracts, push aside duly elected local government officials and school board members and take control of Wisconsin cities and towns whenever he sees fit to do so.

Such a law would additionally give Walker unchallenged power to end municipal services of which he disapproves, including safety net assistance to those in need.

According to my sources, the plan is being written by the legal offices of Foley & Lardner, the largest law firm in the state, and is scheduled to be introduced to the legislature in May of this year

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 13, Hairston Crossing Library)

Community Turns Out to Reopen Hairston Crossing Library. (Stone Mountain-Redan Patch, 4/16/2011)

Excerpt:   “We are very excited to have this opening taking place today,” said Alison Weissinger, Acting Director of the DeKalb County Public Library, moments before the start of the dedication ceremony that marked the reopening of the Hairston Crossing Library on April 16.

“ I believe that the DeKalb County library system is one of the best in the nation,” Weissinger said in her remarks.

The newly refurbished library at 4911 Redan Road in Stone Mountain, which expanded from 4,000 to 18,000 square feet, sports a 53,000 volume collection and three meeting rooms including one which can hold up to 100 members of the public and a six-seat study/tutor room as well as a 12-seat conference room.

There are now 38 computers available for public use and 12 separate computers in a computer lab. The number of parking spaces has also increased to 90 from 20

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 12, South Berwick Public Library)

Town manager designated as project manager for new South Berwick library. (Bangor Daily News, 3/9/2011)

Excerpt:  Town councilors Tuesday unanimously designated Town Manager Perry Ellsworth as the project manager for the new library’s construction and authorized him to sign a contract to begin its official design and development phase.

Ellsworth said Tuesday the town has been in the “conceptual/schematic phase” for several months now, and needed to now sign the $40,000 architectural services contract in order to actually move forward with the project and “narrow down” the final numbers associated with its cost.

“If we don’t get to this stage here, we won’t know what the final numbers will be,” he said. “We can’t ask contractors to bid without knowing the scope. We can’t do this until we get through this stage.”

Ellsworth said the plan is to have the construction document ready by May 15 so the town can solicit bids between May 15 and June 1 and receive the bids by mid-to-late June.

He said the town “likely won’t be ready to start” construction on July 1 as hoped, although he said they may be able to start on Aug. 1, and the plan is to still have the all exterior work and have the “building encapsulated… so it can survive the winter” by early fall.

The decision to proceed with the contract as well as Ellsworth’s appointment as project manager was met with public praise during Tuesday’s meeting.

Norma Tutelian, a resident and former town councilor, said before the meeting she welcomed both moves because the project has been lingering. Tutelian also made that stance known during the meeting through a brief public comment before the council took action.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” she said. “Maybe it will get the ball rolling.”

The library project entails renovating and building up the St. Michael’s Church building on Young Street to turn it into a library

The Library School Experience @ Simmons

Checking out the future. Forget dusty book stacks. Tomorrow’s librarians are all about tech. (Boston Globe, 4/16/2011)


Library science used to be the realm of career changers. Bookish types, having put in some years in the work world, would enroll in a graduate program with dreams of one day making a living surrounded by the noble hush of book stacks, card catalogs, and shelf upon shelf of reference tomes.


Tomorrow’s librarians face a two-year graduate school curriculum freighted with technology courses that didn’t exist 10 years ago, courses that will likely be replaced by others within a year or two. The future of libraries is a constantly evolving digital landscape, and technical literacy, as it is in so many other fields, is absolutely essential to find a job in a brutal job market.

“Get as many technology skills as you can,’’ advises Jamie Cantoni, 26, of Cornwall, Conn., who’s in her final semester at GSLIS and has already been out in the job market. “What’s most shocking is when you go to apply for jobs how much they value strong technology skills. A master’s in library science is not enough to get a job anymore. You need a second master’s.’


GSLIS students can choose between two concentrations — Archives Management and the School Library Teacher Program — or remain generalists, which is what the majority of them do. They focus on careers as reference or catalog librarians, and Web masters, among other specialties.

While the core mission of librarians hasn’t changed — they are still committed to provide information to patrons who need it, wherever they are — most everything else has.


“I teach preservation, and we need to make sure we keep information in digital form into the future,’’ says veteran library science teacher Ross Harvey. “It’s a new way of thinking. Think about the kind of information that people in the future will want access to, like digital photographs in jpeg. What guarantee is there that 100 years from now people will understand that file format?’’

The emphasis on technology begins early at the GSLIS. Every student must create a website and wiki page within the first six weeks. They cannot continue their studies until they complete these projects.


One memorable event is the “PC autopsy’’ on the “corpse’’ of a dead computer that Johnson requires all of her students to complete. This means taking the machine apart. In groups of two or three, they disassemble it, taking out everything — from the hard drive to the memory card to the central processing unit.

“I want them to have the attitude they can jump right in and try a few things on their own to see if they can pinpoint where the problem is,’’ says Johnson.’’ The real challenge comes at the end where they have to put it back together again.

Waupaca Area Public Library @ the Heart of Its Community

Waupaca library offers more than books. (Waupaca County Post, 4/13/2011)

Excerpt: On a typical day, a visitor to the Waupaca Area Public Library will see people of all ages there – and for many different reasons.

Some adults visit daily to read newspapers. Others go to the library to use the public-access Internet computers.

Teens drop in after school and walk downstairs to go to the Best Cellar, a space designed specifically for them. Families with young children also go to the library’s lower level to visit the children’s department or to participate in story time.

This week is National Library Week, and libraries throughout the nation are celebrating in special ways.

Waupaca’s library is once again holding Food for Fines Week and is also offering free replacement library cards to those who bring donations for the Waupaca Area Food Pantry.

"We have a very supportive community," said library director Peg Burington.

Library board President Mary Trice recently presented the library’s 2010 annual report to the Waupaca Common Council.

She told the council that while circulation declined slightly in 2010 – from an all-time high of 305,499 in 2009 to 302,461 in 2010 – reference questions reached an all-time high last year.

The number of reference questions in 2010 was 21,567, which compares to 20,798 in 2009.

Burington suspects the number of reference questions was up because more people need information, whether it is a question about how to do a job search or about Social Security.

"We are tracking questions in all departments," she said.

Library users made 178,097 visits to the library in 2010.

And with the library open a total of 2,900 hours per year, that translates into 61 visits per hour.

The library’s circulation totaled 302,461 items in 2010. Of that number, 53 percent were books, 38 percent were movies, and 10 percent were music and audio books, Trice said.

Burington said the library’s circulation number has been stable, holding around 300,000 annually.

"We would have to have another ‘something’ happen to get another jump," she said.

In 2006, the library’s teen space was remodeled to create a larger space, and that same year, the Outagamie Waupaca Library System introduced its new online catalog, Infosoup.

And, while library circulation has increased 14 percent during the last five years, the number of paid library staff has stayed the same.

These days, Burington and other library directors are concerned about Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal that includes the removal of the maintenance of effort requirement for municipalities

Delafield Officials Throw Hissy Fit Over Library's Use of Council Chambers

Council clashes over library use of its chamber. (Lake Country Reporter, 4/11/2011)

Excerpt: For the second time in two weeks, tempers have flared during a Common Council debate. The latest incident occurred when aldermen clashed April 4 over whether the library should be permitted to conduct some of its programs in the Common Council meeting room.

Library Board members and staff say using the room is necessary for library programs that draw too many people to conduct in the library.

City Administrator Tim Schuenke said city staff is concerned that the council chambers could be soiled or damaged as a result of children's programs. The meeting room includes new carpeting, padded chairs and an extensive electronic system.

Alderman Gerald MacDougall argued the library should conduct programs that require more meeting space in the Fish Hatchery, about a half-mile from the Civic Center. McDougall asserted that the library and its patrons were "guests" of the city, and the civic center was built for conducting city business, not providing meeting space for library programs that include non-city residents.

"I think our Library Board is opening up the use of council chambers to residents of the nine surrounding communities (that also use the library), and I think that is fundamentally wrong," MacDougall argued.

Alderman Jeff Krickhahn, who is also chairman of the Library Board, strenuously objected to McDougall's use of the term "guests." Krickhahn said that the Library Board and the Plan B Committee, which crafted the initial conceptual design for the civic center, struck a compromise that would allow the library to conduct programs that required larger meeting space in the Common Council chamber.

Alderman Erv Sadowski noted that voters had rejected two referendums seeking to build a bigger facility.

Library Business Still Booming in Wausau

Marathon County Public Library's Wausau branch sees an increase in use. (Wausau Daily Herald, 4/16/2011)

Excerpt: With a stack of magazines in hand Friday, Joann Kleiber was ready to sit down, relax and read a few Reader's Digest articles and perhaps glean tips from Good Housekeeping.

Kleiber, 64, of Wausau also planned to grab a few novels from the Marathon County Public Library's Wausau branch to "lighten up a little" from the nonfiction she usually reads. It's a trip she makes two or three times a week, part of a retirement goal of spending more time at the library.

"It's just a great place to come," she said.

Kleiber is one of thousands of patrons who helped push the library's March checkout total to 106,780 -- the second-highest in the library's 38-year history, and not far behind the June 2010 record of about 115,000 items borrowed from the system's nine branches.

Yet the record checkouts coincide with perhaps the greatest threat to library funding in at least five years with efforts to cut state and local deficits.

Mike O'Connor, reference librarian at the Wausau branch, said the library traffic shows no signs of declining. Spring break makes March one of the busiest months, along with June and July, and library employees are projecting a 6 percent to 7 percent increase this month over the 89,000 items checked out in April 2010

Soglin Want to Make Sure Ducks are in a Row for Central Library Project

Mayor-elect Soglin starts making changes in advance of Tuesday hand-off. (Wisconsin State Journal, 4/15/2011)

Excerpt:    As he prepares to take office Tuesday, Mayor-elect Paul Soglin is already taking action — moving to ensure outside funds are secure before rebuilding the Central Library, suspending the process of putting Overture Center workers in other city jobs, and shuffling alder committee assignments.

Soglin said Friday he wants to make sure $8 million in private fundraising and $4 million in federal tax credits are guaranteed before going to bid on the $29.5 million library reconstruction.

The mayor-elect said the city had to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in private fundraising that never materialized for recent improvements at Lisa Link Peace Park on State Street, and doesn't want to repeat that outcome with the library.

"It certainly cannot happen when we are faced with the emerging budget challenges of next year," he said.The Library Foundation is only beginning its formal fundraising campaign, and it's unclear if Soglin's approach would cause a delay. Final land use approvals are expected in May and construction is supposed to start in the fall.

"My hope is that we get though this and private fundraising kicks into high gear and we don't have a substantial delay," said Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, who represents the core Downtown.
Library Board President Tripp Widder could not be reached Friday.

Soglin stressed he's not out to delay or stop the project, but wants to be financially responsible. If most of the money is pledged or raised, it may be possible to move forward under existing time lines, he said.

Guess I'd feel better if Soglin came right out and said that a new Central Library was a top priority for  Madison.

Designing a new central library:  "Everyone has to feel comfortable and safe here".  (11/17/2010)
Interview with principal architect of Central Library project.  (11/5/2010)
Design development juggling acts for a renovated Madison Central Library. (10/15/2010)
Conceptual designs for new Central Library.  (10/25/2010)
One possible message:  Don't settle for less.  (8/5/2010)
Downsizing the Madison Central Library renovation project. (7/17/2010)
Possible temporary location has asbestos problem.  (6/18/2010)
Architectural firm selected for Madison Central project.  (5/26/2010)
State Journal editorial board sez Madison City Council made right decision on Central Library. (5/10/2010)
Council vote on library goes under the radar.  (5/8/2010)
And the beat goes on.  (4/14/2010)
Mayor Responds to Critics on Library Issue.  (4/13/2010)
Board Endorses Renovation Plan.  (4/6/2010)
Keeping the dream of a new Madison Central Library alive. (3/31/2010)
Some Council Members Not Ready to Move Forward on Mayor's Renovation Plan.  (3/30/2010)
Council President Pro Tem to Introduce Resolution Approving Madison Central Library Renovation Project.  (3/28/2010)
'Dissatisfaction' with Collapsed Madison Central Library Project. (3/25/2010)
Fiore Departure Seen as Beneficial to Madison Central Project.  (3/23/2010)
Matter of Principle" Dooms New Central Madison Library.  (3/20/2010)
Madison Central: The Dream Dies, It's Now Time to Renovate. (3/19/2010)
Dispute over Construction Costs Threatens to Derail New Central Madison Library. (3/17/2010)
Madison Public Library Project Faces Delay in 2011. (3/9/2010)
Construction, Cost Concerns May Delay Madison Central Library Project. (1/25/2010)
New Madison Central Library Wins Council Approval. (11/11/2009)Capital Times Endorses New Madison Central Library. (11/10/2009)
Madison Council Begins Review of Mayor's Budget on Tuesday. (11/6/2009)
More Questions About Madison Central Library Project. (11/1/2009)
New Madison Public Library's First Change Order: Rooftop Garden.

Call for Referendum on New Madison Central Library Not Attracting Support. (10/21/2009)
Madison Board of Estimates Rejects Library Referendum. (10/13/2009)
Some Madison City Council Members Want Referendum on New Central Library. (10/9/2009)
Three former mayors support new Madison Central Library. (10/5/2010)
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial on New Madison Central Library. (9/13/2009)
New Madison Central Library: Let the Positioning Begin. (9/1/2009)
New Madison Central Library on Mayor Dave's Front Burner. (8/30/2009)
New Madison Central Library: Build or Renovate? (7/7/2009)
Motley Brown Not Reason Enough. (6/11/2009)
Fiore Plan Receives Unanimous Support. (6/5/2009)
Fiore Plan Gets Nod from Committee. (5/15/2009)
Public Forum Focuses on Central Library Options. (4/24/2009)
Developer Sweetens the Deal. (4/21/2009)
Visualizing a Remodeled Madison Central Library. (4/4/2009)
Renovation Plan Put on Table for Madison Central Library. (3/26/2009)
Residents Critique Proposals to Rebuild Downtown Library. (1/9/2009)
Competing Developers Defend Their Central Library Plans. (1/8/2009)
Comparison of Downtown Madison Library Proposals. (12/17/2008)
Two Proposals for New Madison Central Library. (12/3/2008)
Best Headline of the Week. (9/6/2008)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 11, Big Rapids Community Library)

Library renovation team meets; RFQ packets to go out shortly. (Big Rapids Daily News, 4/13/2011)

Excerpt:  Things are moving quickly as the Big Rapids library renovation team met for the second time. Of the three committees that make up the renovation team, Layout, has already put together a request for qualification packet that will be sent out to architectural and engineering firms who might be interested in the renovation project. 

Library Director Helena Hayes says she’s “been contacted by three different groups in the last week, of organizations and firms, who have heard we are going to do this, so the word is getting out.” The other committees, fundraising and communications, gave status updates as well. The next library renovation team meeting is scheduled for 4PM April 27th at City Hall.

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 10, Grand Marais Public Library)

Rumor untrue! Library WILL NOT close during expansion. (WTIP, 4/15/2011)

Excerpt:    The rumor that the Grand Marais Public Library will close for five months while renovation and new construction is going on is false. However, according to Librarian Linda Chappell, they are looking for an alternative site to be able to continue business as usual.

Chappell told WTIP’s Jay Andersen on “Daybreak” Friday morning, noise, dust and renovation in the old part of the library necessitates a move. Library board members made the decision earlier in the week, but they don’t yet know where their temporary quarters will be

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 9, Clarksville Public Library)

Library website.

Best Buy Downsizing Its Big Boxes

(Oops!  BOXES, not boxers.)

Best Buy to Chop Down Sizes of Largest Retail Stores.  (Daily Tech, 4/15/2011)

Excerpt: The world of retail electronics has changed drastically over the years. It used to be that most people were going to retail stores to make a purchase. Today, many people go into a retail store to see how a device works and research an item, then go home to purchase it online. The reasons for this are many, but much lies with the lower price that many gadgets can be found for online.

The largest consumer electronics retailer left in the U.S. is Best Buy. Best Buy is still facing stiff competition on the market with Wal-Mart, Target and other discount chains selling more electronics than they did in years past. Best Buy currently operates a number of large stores that its calls “big boxes”. These stores range anywhere from 20,000 square feet to 58,000 square feet.

According to Best Buy, these stores have huge overhead and are "white elephants" in the industry. The retail chain is looking to cut the amount of space and overhead these stores have by about 10% over the next several years. This comes after three straight quarters of same-store sales decline and a forecast for more declines in sales. The blame is placed on the Best Buy’s ailing TV business

Summer Reading Program Idea: "One World, Many (Dinosaur) Stories"

Another reason why boingboing is DAILY reading.

Impromptu, X-rated Theater @ Charlotte Mecklenburg's ImaginOn

Couple caught having sex at ImaginOn. (Charlotte Observer, 4/13/2011)

Excerpt: A couple was caught having sex at a children’s library on Tuesday.

ImaginOn is a library and a children's theater. Hundreds of children visit the venue every day.

Police say a 20-year-old man and 18-year-old woman were caught having sex in the teen lounge around 3 p.m. Tuesday. The lounge is not walled off and there isn’t anything to keep kids from walking into the area. Fortunately, there were not any children in that area when the incident happened.

“That’s disgusting,” says parent Camisha Lewis. “That’s really nasty. I wouldn’t want my child to see that.”

Officials with ImaginOn responded to questions about the incident with a brief email response.

"First, no children or members of the public witnessed the incident – the only witnesses were a Mecklenburg County Security officer and a Library staff member. The incident was discovered by the security officer as part of a regular patrol, and was handled quickly, appropriately and professionally in accordance with security procedures

The couple has been banned from all Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries, though the article does not state for how long.

Restore Library Budget, Say 4 Jersey City Council Members

Jersey City City Council members ask for restoration of proposed $300,000 library cut. (The Jersey Journal, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt: A group of Jersey City City Council members today said they would not support Mayor Jerramiah Healy's proposed $477 million 2011 municipal budget unless he restored a roughly $300,000 cut to the Jersey City Free Public Library.

For the past three City Council meetings, numerous residents have pleaded with the council not to implement the cut, saying it would lead to library closures and more reduced hours.

The council members seeking a restoration of proposed library cuts include Councilman David Donnelly, Councilman Steven Fulop, Councilwoman Nidia Lopez and Councilwoman Viola Richardson.

Their joint statement came after last night's admission by Business Administrator Jack Kelly that the city is expecting additional revenue that it did not include in the municipal budget, including an $800,000 Medicaid reimbursement

Related articles:
Small branch with a big heart must close.  (9/29/2010)
Library cuts hours of operation.  (9/9/2010)
Jersey City residents plead for their library.  (8/26/2010)
More bad news from New Jersey.  (8/9/2010)

Twin Lakes Committee Asks for Opinion That It Won't Be Bound By

Twin Lakes to seek DPI opinion on establishing village library.    (West of the I, 4/13/2011)

Excerpt:   The Twin Lakes Sewer, Health and Environment, Youth and Library Committee agreed Wednesday to seek an opinion from the state Department of Public Instruction about the viability of starting a village library.

Seeking the opinion is a requirement if the village decides it wants to separate from the joint Community Library, explained village administrator David Cox. He was speaking at a committee meeting Wednesday evening at Village Hall.

However, the village will not be bound to follow the opinion’s findings.

Despite extensive discussion on the subject of separating from the multiple municipality Community Library, the committee did not settle on a recommendation to the Village Board about the larger issue of whether to separate from the joint district. Trustee Thomas Connolly, a member of the committee, said he did not favor a separation. Trustees Aaron Karow and Mike Moran, the other members of the committee, were less committal in their comments, though both seemed to see scenarios where they would support separation

Community Library in the news:
Twin Lakes village board should also consider a review of 43.52 (1m).  (3/20/2011)
Municipalities discuss contract changes.  (1/20/2011)
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)

'Tools' Don't Help Janesville Avoid a Grim 2012 Budget Outlook

State budget cuts roll downhill. (Janesville Gazette, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt: Gov. Scott Walker said he gave cities the tools to deal with proposed cuts in state shared revenue, but Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt said those tools would help the city make up only about 34 percent of what Janesville would lose in state aid.

And some of the tools can't be used in Janesville.

"We're getting cut a lot more than getting savings," Levitt said.

Walker proposed eliminating most collective bargaining rights of public employees so local governments could save money to make up for cuts in state aid. The bill also requires public employees to pay half their pension contributions.

"The argument that the state is talking about, we get 100 percent savings for 100 percent in reduction," Levitt said.

But because of union contracts now in place, Janesville wouldn't be able to make up even 34 percent of state aid reductions, Levitt said

Some of the numbers.
  • Janesville's shared state aid payments have dropped 19% since 2003, from  $6.3 million to $5 million.
  • The city is looking at another cut in state shared aid of $1.1 million in 2012.
  • Recycling funds:  A loss of $328,000 in 2012 and the possibility of a $128,000 cut this year.
  • Transit.  A $72,000 cut.
  • City Manager Eric Levitt foresees a $2.9 million gap in the 2012 city budget.  (7% of $42 million.) 

The Governor's view.

The Assault on Public Employees Takes a Toll on All of Us

Uncertain about future benefits, many veteran teachers are retiring early. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 4/15, 2011)

Excerpt:    At a time when the governor's plan to eliminate most collective bargaining for teachers and increase state employees' payments for health care and pension costs looms overhead, some school districts are seeing record numbers of senior teachers such as Scharrer-Erickson turn in their retirement paperwork.

Although their pensions are beyond the reach of lawmakers and local officials, many teachers fear that changes could mean they soon could lose early retirement benefits such as health insurance that helps support them until they are eligible for Medicare.

Some districts, such as Oshkosh, Appleton and Madison, have extended their retirement deadlines to Friday. Preliminary figures reported by Oshkosh and Appleton showed a large increase in the number of teachers filing retirement paperwork. Oshkosh's 37 staff retirements is double last year's number and the highest since the district started tracking in 1994. Appleton already had seen 70 retirements from teachers and others in their bargaining group this week, up 29 from last year.

Mequon-Thiensville's retirements just about tripled from last year: 28 teachers by the Feb. 14 deadline vs. 10 last year. Green Bay also saw three times as many retirements this year compared with last: 140 teachers and 15 administrators, according to a spokeswoman.

The results are double-edged for school districts: While the retirements mean the loss of years of classroom experience and cherished professionals, they also could help districts avoid layoffs in what is expected to be a tough fiscal year and even save money by replacing some of their highest-paid employees with teachers who receive lower salaries.

For many seasoned educators, it's a decision wrought with emotion: leave a job you enjoy to secure retirement benefits under your current contract or continue to work and take a gamble on what the union can secure for you in future agreements.

School districts aren't alone. The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds reports heightened interest in retirements among all the state's public employees

Ghost Circs @ Vilas County's Ghost Town Libraries

Vilas County:
Population and Circulation, 1960-2009
Source:   Wisconsin Public Library Service Data

American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century. (Wall Street 24/7, 3/27/2011)

Excerpt: There are several counties in America, each with more than 10,000 homes, which have vacancy rates above 55%. The rate is above 60% in several.

Most people who follow unemployment and the housing crisis would expect high vacancy rates in hard-hit states including Nevada, Florida and Arizona. They were among the fastest growing areas from 2000 to 2010. Disaster struck once economic growth ended.

Palm Coast, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada and Cape Coral, Florida were all among the former high fliers. Many large counties which have 20% or higher occupancy rates are in these same regions. Lee County, Florida, Yuma County, Arizona, Mohave County, Arizona, and Osceola, Florida each had a precipitous drop in home prices and increases in vacancy rates as homebuyers disappeared when the economy went south.

Data from states and large metropolitan areas do not tell the story of how much the real estate disaster has turned certain areas in the country into ghost towns. Some of the affected regions are tourist destinations, but much of that traffic has disappeared as the recession has caused people to sell or desert vacation homes and delay trips for leisure. This makes these areas particularly desolate when tourists are not around

Vilas County, 1960-2009

The response.

Property Trax: Vilas County, Wis., named nation's No. 2 "Ghost Town"; locals quickly fire back at ranking. (Wisconsin State Journal, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt: The story also blames Vilas County's purported woes on instability in the tourism market and hits to the county's logging, forestry and construction industries.

Vilas County economic development officials hit back this afternoon with a national press release attacking the story's premise, reasoning and professionalism.

"The article must have been a freshman journalism class assignment," Vilas County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ken Stubbe says in the release.

Stubbe also said the 62 percent "vacancy rate" reported in the 2010 Census was made up almost entirely of homes that "are seasonal, owned and used frequently by part-time residents," even though part-time residents aren't counted in the censu

Whoever researched and wrote the Wall Street 24/7 article -- and there is no byline -- deserves a break today.  And tomorrow......

Appleton Mayor Mark Hanna on State Support for a Regional Transit Authority: "...and they even happen to be Republicans."

Creation of regional transit authority could help Valley Transit with budget woes. (Appleton Post-Crescent, 4/15/2011)

Excerpt: Valley Transit officials say the creation of a regional transit authority could help the public transportation system solve its budgetary puzzle.

If a regional transit authority existed, it could choose to raise money through a sales tax increase.

Transit officials last year estimated that an increase of half a percent would help make up Valley Transit's annual loss of $1.5 million, starting in late 2012 or in 2013.

Democrats finished the legislative session last year without taking up a bill that would have allowed for the creation of regional transit authorities in various parts of the state. The measure can be taken up this session if Republicans so choose.

Mayor Tim Hanna thinks the idea of a regional transit authority remains a possibility.

"I know there are still some people interested in that down in Madison. We may be pursuing that," Hanna said on Thursday. "We talked to some legislators who are interested, and they even happen to be Republicans

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 8, Loveland Public Library)

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 7, Columbia Public Library)

More space for young Columbia bookworms. (, 4/13/2011)

ExcerptConstruction is expected to finish next week on an expansion of the Columbia Public Library.

"It's creating a bigger space for the kids. We've got about enough room now, but there's no room for expansion," said library Director Erica Pyle.

The project is adding about 40 percent more space to the children's area. The addition will connect the children's room to a study room next door. Brighter carpeting, more accessible shelves and comfortable furniture will also be installed.

Construction started April 4.

It's the latest in a series of renovations paid for by the Friends of the Library, a fundraising group that supports the North Metter Avenue facility. Money came through the estate of Ruth E. Kurgeleis, a longtime library patron. (The private group won't say how much construction costs.)

The project will give the children more space and more light, said Kathleen Habermehl, a longtime member and leader of the Friends of the Library. "The adult part of the library is well taken care of," Habermehl said

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 6, Oak Ridge Public Library)

Oak Ridge library expansion eyed. (, 4/14/2011)

ExcerptA major expansion of the Oak Ridge Library would be costly but it's needed, city officials said this week.

"We are full, and things need to be renovated,'' library director Kathy McNeilly said.

It's estimated the project would cost $6 million to $7.5 million, she said.

Funding isn't currently budgeted, but preliminary financial planning is under way, City Manager Mark S. Watson said Wednesday.

Design plans with four options for a library expansion were unveiled during a public meeting Tuesday night.

The Knoxville firm Cockrill Design Inc. conducted the study, McNeilly said. The company has been involved in other area library projects, she said.

Three proposals call for a second floor to be built on top of the current children's library area.

A fourth option would enlarge the facility's footprint and expand the current single-story building out onto a nearby parking lot, Watson said

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 5, Library District of Clackamas County)

City Council recruiting members for Library Expansion Task Force. (City of Milwaukie, Oregon, website. 4/8/2011)

Excerpt:  Milwaukie City Council is looking for a pair of citizens and a local business person to join a task force that will assist City staff and the Library Board to stimulate a broad-based discussion of the community need for library facilities, the options available for expansion, and the process needed to pursue potential locations and funding. The task force will help the City determine how to utilize one million dollars of capital funds that will be available in 2012 from the Library District of Clackamas County to address space needs.

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 4, Louisville Free Public Library)

Shawnee Library gets a face-lift; Branch will receive new computers and additional space. (Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/12/2011)

Excerpt:   Four months into its $1.3 million-dollar face-lift and expansion, the Shawnee branch of the Louisville Free Public Library is awash in construction activity — a full-on work in progress.

No matter. Shawnee's staff isn't letting a little construction come between them and the area children they want to see fall in love with reading.

Since December, when the branch at 3912 W. Broadway closed for the work, children's librarian Katy Grant and teen library assistant Lynette Ruby have visited more than 100 schools and day care centers. They've held programs for more than 3,400 children, teens and parents promoting the joy of reading.

During her visits, Grant, who is temporarily assigned to the Main branch downtown, plays games with children that promote reading retention and explore different reading genres

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 3, Benton County Public Library)

Kenton County to break ground on Covington library expansion. (Business Courier, 4/13/2011)

ExcerptThe Kenton County Public Library will break ground Friday for the $12.5 million expansion and renovation of its Covington branch.

The Covington branch is 37 years old and the oldest of the system’s three branches. When the building was built, it wasn’t wired for computers. Its roof is original and must be replaced. Stairwells will be updated to current standards, and fire suppression sprinklers will be installed. The heating and air conditioning system also will be updated, and the library’s space will be expanded to accommodated increased use

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 2, Clay County Public Library)

Library gets OK for its expansion. (Clay County Progress, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt:   The library needs more room and Clay County Commissioners gave the OK to beginning planning an expansion.

Clay County Library Board members Mary Katherine West and Leslie Carter made the request to commissioners Thursday, April 7. A donation bequeathed to the library by a patron will be used to pay for the expansion.

County permission to proceed was needed because the county owns the building that houses the Moss Memorial Library, Clay County manager Paul Leek said.

Plans are only preliminary at this time, but involve adding a single story addition to the back of the building, librarian Mary Fonda said. This was part of an earlier expansion in 1998 that had to be cut because of higher than expected supply costs

Ebooks, Netflix, and Library Building Projects (Part 1, Colleyville Public Library)

Apparently, Some Folks Still Wish to Get Physical

Best Buy: Delays on DVD rentals boost sales. (cnet News, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt:  The sales-only window got its start in January 2010, when Netflix and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced an unprecedented deal. Netflix would delay renting the studio's newly released movies and then would use the money saved from purchasing new releases to acquire more content for its streaming-video service. Redbox soon agreed to honor a sales-only window and two other Hollywood film studios, NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox, also adopted similar windows.

The windows were designed to help protect sales of DVDs as well as Blu-ray discs, a physical format that is still growing. Overall disc sales for the entire industry, however, have declined for several years. Much of the problem can be traced to consumer tastes, which are shifting toward rental rather than ownership.

A year after the Netflix-Warner deal was struck, some retailers say they're encouraged by the results. If the trend continues, Netflix might be able to use the sales-only window to pen similar agreements with other TV and film companies and that could help the company acquire more streaming content. In many tech circles, the thinking is that the Web will become a dominate means for film distribution.

The transition from physical discs to the Internet, however, will not occur over night, according to John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment, a retail chain that sells books, DVDs, and CDs out of 146 stores in 21 states. He said there's still big demand for physical media, he said.

Nearly 40 Years Later, Hartford Branch Library Finally Gets a Facelift

Hartford Public Library Branch Getting Upgrade.   (Hartford Courant, 4/11/2011)

Excerpt:   The Barbour Street branch of the city's public library hasn't been renovated since it moved to its current location in 1974, library officials said. The furniture is old-fashioned and the sign out front sports an outdated logo.

But thanks to an anonymous donor, the branch is getting a facelift.

The library's location at 281 Barbour St. shut down Saturday for renovations and will remain closed until April 25. Its walls and shelves will be repainted, its furniture updated and the sign in front will be redesigned.

Matthew K. Poland, the library's chief executive officer, said the branch came up in a conversation some months ago. The library received an anonymous donation to improve it not long afterward, he said.

"We were very surprised," Poland said. "Barbour would not have come up on the radar this year [for improvements], but with this donation we're able to renovate."

The renovations will cost about $15,000, and more than half will be covered by the donation. The rest will be paid for with money from the library's operating budget, Poland said.

Roughly 34,000 people visit the Barbour branch every year. The 1,775-square-foot facility — one of 10 Hartford Public Library locations — rents books, CDs and DVDs. It also has eight public computer stations.

Its furniture and d├ęcor have not kept up with the advances in its materials, however. The branch still has "very traditional, heavy library furniture" dating back to the 1970s, Poland said.

"It's not flexible or easy to move, and it's not compatible with our computers," he said. "We're replacing it with more modern, contemporary office furniture

"Connecticar" and "Connecticard" to Keep Running

Local Librarians Save Programs That Make Library Resources Widely Available. (Hartford Courant, 4/14/2011)

Excerpt:  Thank your local librarian — again — for standing up for free and easy access to books.

This time, librarians have figured out a way to save a couple of crucial programs while also complying with the governor's proposed budget cuts. One of the programs, "Connecticar," allows patrons to go to their local library and request a book from any other library in the state. It turns even the smallest local facility into a powerful regional library, helping out users who may not have access to a lot of materials locally.

The companion "Connecticard" program allows card-holders to check a book out of any public library in the state, which means you can go to the library in the town where you work, for example, to pick up a book or DVD on your lunch hour — and later return it to your hometown library.

Librarians have told state legislators they will find other cuts — about $1 million — so they can keep the popular programs running. In one of his less-than-brilliant budget cuts, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had proposed eliminating them.

Connecticard had nearly 300,000 users last year, borrowing nearly 5 million library items. Under Connecticar, a high school student, for example, could request research materials from another library and have them delivered to his hometown. The program makes 175 pickups and drop-offs every day.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce: A Long History of Giving ...(and Getting?)

Fond du Lac Public Library Shops Around for a New System

Funding critical to future of Public Library. Group can't afford membership in area consortium. (Fond du Lac Reporter, 4/13/2011)

Excerpt:  The future of Fond du Lac's Public Library and its satellite locations lies in funding, says Library Director Ken Hall.

Among some major announcements made Wednesday at the Friends of the Library annual meeting is the decision Hall made to leave the Winnefox Library System's computer consortium in 2012 because it has become cost prohibitive. Fees amount to more than $100,000 a year, he said.

"We will remain a member of the Winnefox system, just not the consortium. We simply can't afford it," he said.

He said comparable libraries, like Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, pay about $10,000 a year as members of a different state library system — Eastern Shores. The difference in cost, he noted, is in the way the two library systems use funding.

"We are in negotiations with Eastern Shores, but it will come down to cost. We will need to pay more than if we are a member of the system. If we can't afford it, we will act as a stand-alone system," he said

Link to City of Sheboygan 2011 budget.  (Mead Public Library found on pages 39-43.

Related articles:
The Fond du Lac Public Library and a slightly misleading headline.  (12/16/2010)
Fond du Lac County packing its library bags?  (12/14/2010)