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Losing Libraries

Everyone here at CPL is sad and upset to see libraries in our state affected by the economy. In addition to the May 1, 2011 closure of the Troy Public Library, the Detroit Public Library will announce layoffs, and the Romulus Public Library may also be closed after a proposed millage failed earlier this week. Coupled with proposed funding cuts at the state level, libraries and library services in Michigan are in jeopardy. As I've discussed with you before, CPL is not immune from these cuts.

That's what makes an article like this one from Scott Turow such a mood-lifter for the CPL family. Our featured author at our 2010 Everyone's Reading program, Mr. Turow spoke to a capacity crowd at the Village Theater last February, staying afterward to answer questions, autograph books, and talk to fans. Despite the bleak outlook for the next several years, we here at CPL will continue to strive for excellence in programs, collections, and services, meeting the needs of our community, as Mr. Turow outlines in his article, while maintaining a balanced budget and living within our means.

How the Governor's Proposed Budget Affects CPL

Governor Snyder released his budget proposal last week, and as expected, the news is grim. The cuts to public, school, and university libraries across the state are significant, and will affect the services that CPL will be able to provide to our community — namely, interlibrary loan and research databases.

The Governor has proposed cutting state aid to libraries to $3 million. The statutorily-required funding is $15 million. The current funding level of $5 million automatically qualifies the state to receive a federal matching grant of $5 million, which pays for MeLCat (statewide interlibrary loan) and the Michigan eLibrary (MeL — statewide research databases). Cutting state aid results in a cut to, and possibly a loss of, the matching grant, which puts MeL and MeLCat in jeopardy.

MeL and MeLCat exemplify the resource-sharing, aggregation of services, eliminating duplication of effort, and economies of scale that the Governor has emphasized over and over. More than 300 libraries — public libraries, K-12 libraries, and university libraries — pool this funding to provide services to Michigan residents. The $5 million investment by the state nets a $5 million matching grant, and saves taxpayers nearly $72 million annually, when you consider the cost to each library if they had to purchase these same resources on their own.

2011 Approved Budget

At its September Budget Hearing, the Library Board of Trustees approved the library's 2011 budget (attached, with a comparison to our 2008 budget, which was our last budget before the recession hit), levying a millage rate of 1.5437 mills to generate total revenue of $4.9 million. This is a reduction of about $300,000 compared to our 2010 budget, and a reduction of about $1.6 million compared to our 2008 budget.

$4.9 million is the size our budget was in 2004, when we served 15,000 fewer people, checked out 600,000 fewer items, and had 40% more staff. It is ironic that these library cuts come at a time when our community needs us now more than ever to help you cope with the down economy. In 2011, further cuts have been made to nearly all line items, notably staffing, materials, supplies, and programming.

Read the Front Pages of 800 Newspapers Daily

The Newseum "educates the public about the value of a free press in a free society." Located in Washington, D.C., the Newseum is open to the public and offers a unique interactive map that shows you the front pages of 800 daily newspapers from around the world, with direct links to the online versions of those newspapers. Keep up with events across the globe, use it for your personal interests, or for research.

2011 Budget Process Underway for CPL

The budget outlook for the library remains bleak in 2011. As I wrote last year, the deepening recession and declining property values mean less money coming in to the library — 95% of our 2010 revenues come from taxes Canton property owners pay to support library programs, collections, and services — which means more cuts for the next several years.

In 2011, our budget will drop another $300,000, to $4.9 million, bringing our cumulative total cuts since 2008 to $1.6 million. $4.9 million is the size our budget was in 2004, when we served 15,000 fewer people, checked out 600,000 fewer items, and had 40% more staff.

DWSD Repair Will Affect Water Pressure in Northwest Canton July 23

We have been notified by Canton Township that the Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DWSD) will be performing emergency repairs to the DWSD meter pit at Warren and Napier roads on Friday, July 23, which will require the shutdown of a main water feed into Canton between 10:00am and 3:30pm. We have been advised that Northwest Canton will experience low water pressure during that time; water pressure within the library may be affected. Full water pressure will be restored once the repair has been completed.

Do Library Summer Reading Programs Make Better Students?

The Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science has released the results of their three-year study (2006-2009) on the impact of public library summer reading programs on student achievement. The results? Students who participate in summer reading programs at their public library score higher than their non-summer reading classmates on reading achievement tests when they return to school. Additionally, by the third grade, students who participate in summer reading demonstrate better reading skills and better standardized test scores by a significant margin.

Working to Improve Our Service to You

Our new returns system is here! This new system will allow us to better serve you and more accurately handle the 2 million+ items you checkout each year by automatically checking in returns as you put them into the slot. "Why aren't my returned items checked in yet"? is the most common question we receive over the phone and through our website, and our new system will take care of most of those issues.

With our budget cuts due to the recession — we've cut nearly 20%, or $1.2 million, from our budget since 2008 — we have held nearly all vacant positions open to save money. With fewer people working, but ever-increasing demand for materials (we hit a record of 2 million checkouts in 2009), we have struggled to keep up with all of the work that needs to be done. Many of you have experienced this when you return an item to the library and it takes us a day to clear your record. After holiday closures, it was not uncommon for us to need several days to catch up with all of the returns. We are only human, and simply reached a breaking point where our manual processes could not keep up.

Realizing that we were overwhelmed, a team of library staff who know and do the work examined how we do things and made suggestions for improvement. One of their suggestions was to install an automated checkin and sorting system (the conveyor system we are using is the same as/similar to conveyor and sorting systems used by UPS, USPS, Netflix, and Wal-Mart) that would let us devote more staff time to shelving and other patron services, such as retrieving and processing holds. These suggestions coincided with our need to upgrade our RFID inventory system, and last year we began the work of retagging all of our 300,000 materials with new RFID tags, eliminating nearly all of the locking cases that so many of you hated, and six months ago we launched new checkout, self-checkout, and processing equipment.

This past spring, our Copy Center services were distributed to other areas of the library, and the room converted for the new Sorting Room. New outside and inside return slots were installed, which feed directly into that space. The sorting system arrived this week, and today's launch of our new Sorting Room marks the end of this long journey. The majority of returns will be checked in and removed from your record automatically and pre-sorted into categories (bins). This means fewer hands have to touch items to get them back on the shelves. This, along with the other improvements made and suggested by our staff, means your library card record is more accurate, we will make fewer errors, and you'll see faster turn-around of items to the hold shelf or their home shelf location.

Check out our video for a demonstration, or stop by during our regular hours to look through the glass doors and see the sorting system in action.

These improvements were funded through the library's savings account and the generous donations of the Friends of the Library. We still have some kinks to work out — nicer signage for the new outside return slot, for example, among other things — and I thank you for your support, patience, and good humor while we work on fine-tuning our new system.

Best,

Eva M. Davis, Director

2009 Annual Report Now Available

Our 2009 Annual Report is now available. Our sincere thanks to all of you who supported the library in 2009 — patrons, volunteers, Friends of the Library, and contributors to our Endowment and Operating Funds. While the recession has affected our bottom line, the library Board of Trustees and our great library staff remain committed to continuing our core services to you and demonstrating good stewardship of your tax dollars and donations. For example, we are presenting our annual report in an online-only format for the first time, which reduces our design, printing, and mailing costs. Placing our annual report online also achieves one of our strategic planning objectives: Being more transparent about our operations and communicating more directly with you, our public.

Anna Slaughter, award winning librarian!

I am pleased to announce that one of our librarians has been named a top librarian in Michigan! Anna Slaughter is the 2010 recipient of the Michigan Library Association's Frances H. Pletz Award for excellence in service to teens. I, along with her colleagues from the Children's, Tween, and Teen department and several members of her family, were on hand last night when the award was announced at the MLA conference in Kalamazoo.

CPL has been blessed with supportive patrons and an excellent staff. We are proud to have one of our own singled out for the wonderful work she does with teenagers in our community. Please join me in congratulating Anna on this accomplishment!

Honoring Those Who Served

November 11 is our nationwide observance of Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, to honor our U.S. veterans for their patriotism, love of country, military service, and sacrifice for the common good.

In addition to thanking all of the veterans you know, join the community at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill, which will host a Salute to Service for all area veterans, their families, and supporters this evening at 7:00; doors open at 6:00. This event is sponsored by the Canton Veterans Memorial Association and Canton Township, and is free and open to the public. The Michigan Military Moms will also be on-site collecting items for service men and women who are currently serving our country overseas.

2010 Approved Budget

At its September Budget Hearing, the Library Board of Trustees approved the library's 2010 budget (attached), levying a reduced millage rate of 1.4980 mills to generate total revenue of $5.2 million.  This is a reduction of about $600,000 compared to our 2009 budget, and a reduction of about $1.2 million compared to our 2008 budget.  While cuts had to be made to balance the budget as required by law, the Library Board also directed the administration team to preserve our 7-day operation and maintain our 72 hours of library service per week.  I am pleased to report that we've achieved these goals without permanently cutting library hours or having to enforce furlough days or layoffs.

These necessary cuts are a result of several factors, which all fall under the umbrella of "the recession:" 

Interlibrary Loan & Research Databases at Risk

MeLYesterday, the Michigan legislature's budget conference committee proposed another 40% cut to funding for joint library services, from $10 million to $6 million. A minimum funding level of $10 million is required to receive federal matching grant dollars of $5 million. These federal matching funds for MeLCat interlibrary loan and 25 MeL databases are at stake; due to the local economy and cuts to local funding associated with the recession, the Canton Public Library does not have the revenue to pay for interlibrary loan or online genealogical, historical, or reference products if the state legislature does not act to maintain statewide library services — Canton residents would lose access to these resources.

Police Incident Forces Library Closure

As you know from media reports, a tragic shooting occurred today outside of the library. We are thankful and relieved that library staff and patrons were not injured, and our hearts go out to the families of the two people who were involved. While the library is closed for the remainder of the day today, we will be open our regular hours on Wednesday. We thank all of you who have expressed concern about our well-being; it is a comfort to us all to have our community’s support. We also thank the Canton Township Public Safety Department for their quick and professional response to this emergency, and ask that any inquiries about their investigation be directed to them.

Rally for Michigan Libraries

Rally at the Capitol 9/10/09On September 10, library supporters will rally at the State Capitol in Lansing to encourage legislators to save the Library of Michigan and the important shared statewide resources, such as MeL databases and MeLCat interlibrary loan, that Canton Public Library users value. The rally will start at 9:30AM and supporters are asked to wear red shirts to show their support for statewide joint services.

The Governor's Executive Order dismantles the Department of History, Arts & Libraries and places the services of the Library of Michigan — both physical and online collections — in jeopardy. State funding and federal matching funds for MeLCat interlibrary loan and 25 MeL databases are at stake; due to the local economy and cuts to local funding associated with the recession, the Canton Public Library does not have the funds to pay for interlibrary loan or online genealogical, historical, or reference products if the state legislature does not act to maintain statewide library services — Canton residents would lose access to these resources.