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performance evals/multiple copies of books

I became the director at my library in mid-September. Unbeknownst to me (because as a clerk, I did not attend the board meetings) the board of trustees was in the midst of going through the director's evaluation line by line.

At the first meeting I attended, they started with the "Collection Development" section. The gentleman who is the head of the personnel committee asked me if there is a procedure in place for collecting fines from our patrons. I said yes, and staff (both of us!) and volunteers are aware of it. Then I explained to him that collection development actually refers to the acquisition of books and other materials for our, um, collection. As well as weeding of materials, replacement of materials etc. etc.

It irks me that someone on my library board doesn't know what a simple term like this means, let alone someone who is in charge of my performance evaluation. What's more, he's ONLY AT THE LIBRARY FOR BOARD MEETINGS. This pisses me off. I have never seen him take out a book from this library.

Also, he asked me if I've ever thought of purchasing multiple copies of bestselling books. Now, I'd been forewarned about this topic, as it was something brought before my predecessor many times. Here's my feeling: No. It's a waste of money for us. We have a small budget for book buying each year. Our new titles go on our 7 day shelf for a period of six months. Patrons can only sign out one 7 day title at a time, and they can't renew it. This policy was in place before I arrived, and I don't think it's a bad one. (I may reduce the time frame to 4 months, but we'll see.) We don't ILL our 7 day titles, either. None of the libraries in our system share their new titles.

If a patron comes in and doesn't get their first choice of a new book, they almost always choose another new one, or they grab an older book. It is extremely rare that someone leaves empty-handed. To me, it's good for our stats too, because it gets more people in the door looking for books.

From a money standpoint, it's a waste to have two or three copies of a Patterson or an Evanovich on the shelf when those titles are really only in high demand for the first three months that they are out. People can also access them through e-readers. Once we remove the books from the 7 day shelf, we simply don't have room on our shelves for multiple copies, so the extra will end up in a box in the basement waiting for the summer book sale. I would rather aim our purchasing dollars at getting a variety of titles that are going to appeal to a broader base of people. Not everyone WANTS the Patterson or the Evanovich. (We get so many donations of those, I could build a house, or sink a ship with them!!)

Sorry if I'm going into too much detail about how my library works, but I explained it like this at the board meeting too. I wasn't sure that all of the members were aware........


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2014 07:44 pm (UTC)
Lolol my boyfriend thought "collection development" was about overdue fines, too, and was astonished there was a whole class on it when I was finishing my MLIS.
As snooty as it sounds, a lot of people who aren't in libraries don't get them... even if they sit on the board :0/
Jan. 3rd, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I feel like there are a lot of people don't get libraries -- and they are librarians. D:
Jan. 4th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)
Touche. And too true.
Jan. 8th, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
My title is Special Collections Librarian and someone actually thought all I did was come up with really creative ways to get people to pay their fines.
Jan. 3rd, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
As someone who is both on a public library board and a librarian - library language and set up is something that doesn't make sense to anyone who doesn't work in a library. At all. That would include the in and outs of who/what department/ collects fines and what exact duties fall under some odd thing called "collection development"

It really is up to the library director to educate the board on such things -- even if the board member did use the library, how would they know that is "circulation" or "fine management" or "public services" and not collection development?" If the library is working well, to the patron it doesn't matter what area it falls under. Blame the previous director for not educating the Board. We have one board member who never uses the library, and he makes some of the best suggestions *because* he is coming at everything from an entirely different perspective.

And the more the one copy idea - it is a not a bad question in and of itself, and if it keeps coming up then it is worth asking why you keep answering the questions the same way the same time - mainly, why do people keep asking it? Do they need to see numbers that prove that they most highly requested titles do in fact drop off in circ/requests very quickly? (Provide proof for the same answers) Or is it that the hold lists are long and stay long for quite some time, and therefore, there is a bigger demand then what you realize (and therefore, the same answers are not applicable anymore?). If your system/regional libraries has a ILL system in order to easily share high demand titles between libraries, then make sure the Board is aware of that too, and get statistics to prove how it makes your system more robust. When you are expecting that ebook systems will meet any extra demand, can you prove it (I know our system doesn't do the job - at any given time, something like 85% of all titles are checked out, and the holds on the NYT BS are longer then the print titles!)

The Board is not there to make your life harder -- they are there to represent your community, and if they are asking what seems to be really frustrating questions, it is because they don't know what to ask to get the answers that make sense. Very often, if you start giving them data (as opposed to "this is the standard way we do things because it what we know what works") things do start to click.
Jan. 4th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
Just about what I was going to say! The Board members not being up-to-date on what's happening is very reflective of what the director has been telling them. If that Board member hasn't been coming in, why not make a point of giving him an invitation for special events? I see some of our Board members mainly on Board meeting nights -- which probably explains some of their overdue fines that they cheerfully pay!

Also, do you pay much attention to donations coming in, that might be added to the collection? Adding a new title that's constantly out would only cost the extra supplies and time, and would save space in the donation pile for a little while! As you can guess, I get super excited when I see a Summer Reading title in good condition come in a donation!

Jan. 4th, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC)
I do comb through the donations coming in and add newer titles - or any titles that we don't have and would be valuable adds - to the collection. We also have a paperbacks-for-loan section, which are items that aren't barcoded and are returned on a good faith system. These are mainly used by summer residents who don't meet the requirements for getting library cards.
Jan. 4th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
Make sure you mention those donations and how much money that saves the library. At my last library job, I was staff liaison to the Friends group, who were worried that they weren't contributing enough to the library to make the Board happy. I mentioned that staff usually takes a look at donations to see if there are any good ones. They started asking staff to keep track, and found that the Friends were contributing sometimes $100's in giving the library donated items! I get especially excited when I find replacement copies in the donations--things people really want, but I can't afford to replace every time they are damaged or missing. Anyway, it's always a good thing to remind the Board how you're saving the library money. Even if you think they know that you are doing that, let them know what it means to be using these items and remind them regularly.

Jan. 4th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
You have made many good suggestions, and I am writing them down!! I think that part of the issue is that the previous director left on poor terms with the board, and there is some....holdover from that relationship. Board members will say things like "Well X never did this" and "X never told us that." I try to point out that "X is no longer here, so please let's not dwell on what did or did not happen in the past." When they want new information presented to them I am happy to do it, but I would prefer being asked "In your next report, can you please present us with _____? It would be helpful for us to have." But I receive a 10 minute lecture on each item that includes what they did or didn't like about X. I didn't receive any training from X about how to do the director's job before she left, so there is an element of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants happening with some of this!

In addition, the board is in a tiff with the other library in our town/village over funding and they are turning it into a fight, whereas I think we should share the $$$$.

The other issue is that a certain board member, I shall call Schmoe (head of the personnel committee) has been going around town bad-mouthing people. Telling people he managed to "get rid of" the previous director and he is going to get rid of the director at the library with whom we are having funding quarrels. He is not representing US well to the community in that respect. It has caused local business owners not to want to work with us because he is associated with us. We have a new hire coming on soon, and he wanted to pay her more than the clerk who has been here for three years, though when I brought this up, he claimed not to know what the clerk of three years was making. I can understand not necessarily knowing what collection development and other such things are, but if you are head of the personnel committee, I do feel you should know what people are getting paid.

I agree with you that giving data as opposed to nebulous answers is the path I should start to take.
Jan. 4th, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Good luck! We'll all be rooting for you!

(Deleted comment)
Jan. 4th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
I think I like you.
Jan. 5th, 2014 01:02 am (UTC)
Jan. 4th, 2014 02:59 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain regarding board members who are just there for the position. When I started at my library, half of the board didn't even have library cards.
Jan. 6th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
That used to be true on our older boards. We used to have a town supervisor that never used the library,did everything possible to undermine the library, and his choices for the library board reflected his attitude. It was awful and morale was low because we weren't supported by this board. They did everything possible to try and humiliate our director at the time whom they clashed with.

Once the old supervisor retired, we got a new supervisor who actually values the library and the current library board members reflect that attitude. Even if we disagree with some of the opinions of our current library board members at least they come into the library on their own, have library cards, and pretty much know most of the staff.
Jan. 4th, 2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
I grok your discomfiture. Not only did/do we have a board with no library knowledge, our recent 3 directors were hired from outside the profession. *!Flail!* doesn't even describe.
Jan. 4th, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a professional librarian. I have a BAH in English and history and did post grad in journalism. I worked in public broadcasting before coming to the world of libraries. In that regard, I'm definitely used to dealing with the public in terms of hearing "These are my tax dollars at work - what are you doing with them!!!?" My husband is in the military and we've moved around a LOT. Less than a year in each place in the first four years we got married, which made finding a job in my field difficult. When we got here and knew it would be for a few years, I got hired on as a library clerk. I was in the job a year when the director (also not an MLIS) left. I interviewed and was awarded the position. In my system, the library must be chartered to serve a population of more than 7500 in order to have someone with an MLIS as the director. Most of the village and town libraries have neither the population base nor the finances to support a professional librarian. Interestingly, a woman with an MLIS who works two part-time library clerk jobs DID interview for the job, but did not want the responsibilities of being a director. I've been attending all of the classes that my local library system offers. I know that there is a LOT for me to learn. That's why I'm completely serious why I say that I making notes on the suggestions people are making! There are certainly problem solving approaches/standard library practices that might not occur to me since I'm a newbie. I've looked into taking MLIS classes through distance education, and I believe my library board would contribute financially if I choose to do so.

(Deleted comment)
Jan. 5th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
My apologies--I should have been more clear (especially since I am a paralibrarian of ten years myself). I do appreciate administrators who come up through the trenches very much indeed.
Jan. 5th, 2014 04:42 pm (UTC)
A couple of places to look at for professional development online:

- Library Juice Academy, Certificate in Library Management. http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/certificate-management.php (friend did a different certificate program through them and was pleased with it).

- Southern Ontario Library Services, Certificate in Managing a Small Public Library. http://www.sols.org/index.php/develop-your-library-staff/training/certificate-programs/excel/128-develop-your-library-staff/training/programs/certificate-programs/excel/list-of-courses-and-cycle/551-courses-list-1 I don't know anything about it.
Jan. 6th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
bentleywg - Thank you for the sources!

mackiedockie - No apologies necessary. I can understand your issue with directors being hired from outside the profession. I was somewhat hesitant about applying for the director's job because I knew everything my predecessor had gone through. Then I thought about how strange it would be if the board hired someone from outside with no library experience at all. It would definitely have irked me to train someone to be my boss who knew nothing about the system at all.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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