2014 Year End Post

Another year, another post?  Amazing how working in a busy public library and living in a vibrant city sucks away at your blogging time.  So, as part of my self-assigned Annual Review..I’m going to re-cap. General themes to watch: increases in circulation, the search for the right new team members and karma (in the positive attracts positive sense).

January – circ: 8,778

  • 60th Anniversary event with Larry Kane signLarry Kane spoke at our 60th Anniversary Brunch on Jan. 5, 2014 – we had 146 attend in spite of icy sleet and gave away copies of “When They Were Boys.”  We got good media coverage, including an article in the Midweek Wire.  This was billed as a Celebration, but with the sponsorships from HV Bank, the Friends and the Brauns, it turned into a fundraiser!  As a bonus, a hand-made quilt by Friend Andee Polokoff brought in $520, which they donated back to the Library (and it eventually bought a new picnic table).  My thanks to Board Member Miryam, who negotiated with the country club, wrote the press release and coordinated the days events.  This wouldn’t and couldn’t have been done without her. Also, Ingram was great to work with – we could order, then order more and in the end, send a bunch of books back that we didn’t need.
  • On January 9, the Friends and Library Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding, as drafted by the Association of Library Trustee Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF).  This was significant as a symbol of the renewed trust between the Friends and the Library, something I had worked hard to re-establish.
  • The Friends approved $34,550 in Wish List expenditures, including a paperback book standing order, a loveseat for the children’s department, and the Summer Reading program.  We also worked on a more efficient method of managing reimbursement requests that rely on quarterly QB reports, trusting that we accounted for expenditures correctly.
  • We joined the Geek the Library awareness campaign – something Pam really wanted and supported by taking a very active role in promoting.
  • Hosted two local authors: Cubby Moreland and children’s author Dean Morey on Jan. 14 and Jan. 16.
  • On Jan. 26, Pam, Tetjana, Glynnis, Christina, Shawna, Rhonda, Rita, Miryam and I visited the exhibit hall of ALA midwinter and had dim sum in Chinatown.  Good time (and good idea Pam had to ask Ingram for free passes)!
  • Strategic Planning Update: Met Jan. 28 and put together a work plan and decided to hire Catalyst (Liz V. as our consultant), identify stakeholders and move forward on community forums and a customer survey.
  • On Jan. 21, we sent a formal letter to our neighbors in the Bryn Athyn Borough to invite a representative of the Borough to join the Board as a nonvoting member.  Again, this was a move we had discussed for some time and knew we wanted to strengthen the relationship with our neighbors.
  • We had 9 volunteers donate 71 hours of time.  This includes teens and adults who applied and were then interviewed and trained by Pam.  She’s amazing and this is a statistic to watch…

February – circ: 8,556

  • Staff In-Service Feb. 17 – I made a presentation to the staff about the Geek the Library campaign and together we explored various online databases and subscription services, like Zinio and OverDrive.
  • Pam and I created and posted a new Library Associate position – a hybrid cataloger and library assistant position to help us stay on top of our new book linking.
  • Pam and Marilyn volunteered to open the library on Sunday, Feb. 9 as a ‘warming center’ for community members without power after a series of storms in early February.  They manned the fort from 1 to 5 pm
  • At the (rescheduled due to snow) Board meeting, they decided to pursue another author event in late 2014 or early 2015.  Miryam agreed to chair!  She also contacted the June Fete committee on our behalf, so we could have a presence at that long-standing local event.  The Board also amended the inclement weather policy – Eleanor and I will make the determination, with input from the Township (regardless of what the School District does).
  • With information from the recorder of deeds for Montco, we started contacting new residents to the Township with a welcome letter.  This needs to be re-started in 2015. I have let it lapse.
  • I participated in revising the District’s Strategic Plan with Mary Maguire and Directors from across the County.  I had the continuing education section and promoted the idea of having collaborative CE events.
  • Feb. 27 – I submitted the Annual Report (state statistical report) and a royal time-suck (as in a full week).  Jonathan Shina, who compiles the monthly statistics for me, has helped us align the monthly statistics more closely with the annual report, so the numbers we collect fit better with what the State wants.
  • We had 16 volunteers donate 90 hours of time.

March – circ: 10,327

  • PLA in Indianapolis – See the posts here.  A great networking opportunity and a chance to see a bit of family, as well.
  • March 27 – Gerry Shur author event – Inside the Witness Protection Program, Celtic Pride concert, Crafternoons for kids and Teen Tech week also in March.  The Shur event went well, was well-attended and  brought in a diverse crowd (gender speaking).
  • Board Meeting notes: Hilarie wrote a Request for Proposal for Community Forums on March 3 for the Strategic Planning Committee, Miryam contacted Valerie Plame’s people for a possible author talk/fundraiser and we discussed having LM High School liaisons.
  • I met with Girl Scout Troop 754 to help plan their Bronze Star garden and research walnut tree toxicity on Mar 7.
  • Summerlin Memorial Book WormMarybeth Summerlin, a former Board member, passed and her husband named the library as a memorial recipient.  We received over $2,000 in Marybeth’s honor and bought book cases and our bookworm (that we used as inspiration for new paint in December).  Every donor received a letter from the Library and we shared the names with Mr. Summerlin so he could send notes, as well.
  • Pam, Tetjana and I conducted several interviews and hired Jessica as our new Associate.  She is a capable and enthusiastic worker and soon-to-be Librarian working on her MLS through Drexel U!
  • The staff completed a SWOT analysis, apart from the Board’s, at our March 28 staff meeting.
  • With help of the Library Assistants, usage reports that are reviewed and marked-up by me, we’ve been weeding non-fiction and adult fiction.  This also leads to re-orders, deletion carts and book repairs.  All weeded items are reviewed by me, with suggestions made by the staff to ‘delete, reorder or repair’.  I usually say delete! Our collection is SO OLD, it’s tragic.  As part of this project, we talk about weeding theory and I share with them the dramatic statistical evidence that a well-weeded collection, is a well-circulated collection.
  • Pam and I visited the ANC Secondary Girls’ School in Bryn Athyn to meet with Brenda, the librarian.
  • Submitted a Keystone Grant letter of intent for 3 new HVAC units.  The grant would pay for 50% of the $68,000 total cost. We also submitted a letter asking for support directly to a possible private donor.
  • Fetched documents for the 2013 Audit visit.  Time and effort involved preparing for the audit.
  • In March, we started making “One-on-One Tech Appointments” with patrons who needed in-depth help with their device, laptop, resume, or other techie-need.  Marilyn M., Christina, Debbie, Pam and I all help.  From our help, Cliff has a new job and Andre has a resume and email address so he can get a new job!
  • We had 13 volunteers donate 125 hours.

April – circ: ?

  • Shared all of our Strategic Planning documents with the Township commissioners, after presenting on the Geek the Library campaign at an open meeting on April 8.  The Township Manager and Commission President returned the favor and came to our April 10 Board meeting.
  • One of our most successful programs was April 23 with Ruth K. HartHVL New Logo and Library Card design by Christina H. z, author and a hidden child of the Holocaust.  We also celebrated National Poetry Month with Lynn Levin.
  • We launched Geek the Library during National Library Week and Christina took portraits for our customized posters.
  • We received gifts ear-marked for a new Library Endowment from Mr. Rumpf (from the Board) and Mr. and Mrs. DeMartinis (from the Township Commission).
  • We wanted to update our logo and library card to match the new energy in the library, so we asked Christina to put her graphic design degree to work and she designed our new library cards with the tag-line by Pam.  I really liked using the rainbow to signify energy, fun and inclusion, along with an architectural feature of the building. I like 3-word tag lines (Tonganoxie’s was “Enjoy. Learn. Grow., so I LOVE Pam’s 3-E’s: Engage. Explore. Enjoy.
  • At the quarterly Township meeting, we discussed ideas such as the Library as Community Center, fundraising goals, facility needs, and the new lease.
  • We set up an Amazon Smiles account to help with fundraising and to earn money on all of our DVD orders!
  • We had 12 volunteers donate 127 hours.

May – circ: 9,172

  • Board Meeting notes: We welcomed a new Board Member – Mr. Rumpf and board orientation ensued.  We accepted the bid from Catalyst Center for Nonprofit Management to help with our community forums.  I worked with Liz Vibber on logistics.
  • We sent a formal request to the Township for a few important documents missing from our archive.  Working effectively with the Township was and is a personal goal.  We (Chris, Pam, Rob and I) have met quarterly, the Library has requested and received important historical documents missing from our archive, I have made a concerted effort to increase our fundraising and I have every expectation that lease negotiations in 2015 will go smoothly.
  • Our Stucco Replacement Crew!On May 7, the Township opened bids for NEW STUCCO!  We were allowed to select both the color of the stucco and accent color for the architectural features.  The scheme ended up being a very K-State purple and gray, when it was suppose to be gray and blue.  Oops.
  • After discussing the idea with the Friends, I announced plans to have a Library-organized wine tasting fundraiser at Simpatico! restaurant at the Board meeting.  The Board’s Marketing and Fundraising Committee then met May 21 to assist with the event.
  • Held another Memorial Day Open House, with Board members and staff with donuts and hand-shakes.
  • Summer Reading preparations started for Fizz, Boom, Read (kids) | Spark a Reaction (teens and online) | Literary Elements (adults).
  • Pam and I visited several local businesses on May 12 to invite their participation in the Geek the Library campaign and went to the May 8 Women’s Club Luncheon to eat crab cakes and graciously receive a check for $1,600 in support!
  • We posted for two vacant positions, I sent a thick packet of supporting documents to the State for our annual report, and we bought books for a new Rumpf Investment Collection!  Woot!
  • Pam launched a new videogame collection for us.  With a grant from the Friends, we purchased a gaming system and an assortment of new/used games from a local retailer.  Pam linked the items for us and it’s proven a very popular collection.
  • I served on the committee to revise our District Negotiated Agreement with other Directors from the county.
  • With the Friends, we planned and executed a new, secure process for self-service fundraiser registration and money-handling.  The Friends Station launched in time for a summer bus trip to NYC.
  • Pam and I met with the Township to discuss a new Emergency Preparedness Plan – this is still in progress.
  • Building maintenance issues popped up ALL year, including HVAC and HVAC maintenance company issues, false fire alarms (with fire trucks and everything) and elevator battery replacements.  I had the Township open an insurance claim after flooding on April 30 ruined a wool rug in Anna’s Corner and lead to wet carpets, insulation and drywall.  (This mess eventually lead to drywall repairs and new paint in December.)
  • We had 16 volunteers donate 222 hours.

June – circ: 10,395

  • The Library stayed open until 5 pm on Saturdays throughout the summer, due to demand and our ability to staff the extra hours.  In the past, the library closed at 2 pm for 10 weeks every summer.
  • The Strategic Planning Committee met June 4 with Liz, our new consultant, and brought her up to speed, picked Community Forum dates, and I shared a draft customer survey created with help from Web Junction.
  • Jessica and Michelle at the June Fete 2014Jessica, Michelle from the Friends and I participated in a special Pirate and Princess party at the June Fete on June 7.  Jessica prepared a story and great photo opportunities for the kids.
  • We received a Memorandum from the Township on June 10 with some of the information we requested, including the 1990 referendum and meeting minutes from several meetings held in 1961 about the library tax.   Amazing information to have for our records.
  • Summer Reading kicked off for kids on June 25 with Eyes of the Wild and for adults on June 26 with Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band, as performed by Neill Hartley.  The teens program started on July 7 with author David Lubar.
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Sellner was appointed as the Board Liaison for Bryn Athyn and attended her first meeting.
  • We had 20 volunteers donate 166 hours.

July – circ: 13,572

  • Unrelated to work – we went back to Indy for a fun-filled family reunion over the July 4th weekend…and my nephew got married in late July, so I got to visit Kansas family, too.
  • Glynnis and Diane organized, promoted and hosted 31 programs over 7 weeks with a total attendance of 1,496 for Summer Reading.  We hosted 5 teen programs with 41 attendees and 32 adult programs with 513 attendees.  We were busy.  We had author Bernard Miller and a Women in Science lecture for adult summer reading.  The teens made Hunger Games crafts and Diane had weekly Library Labs to explore science with the kids.  So much activity, involvement and teamwork!
  • After strengthening the computer requirements, we re-opened a vacant Library Assistant position.  I participate in the interviews, while Pam trains and supervises.  She interviews and hires the pages.
  • We found out we need a maternity leave policy before January 9…(we’re caPam at the Bryn Athyn Bounty with our Geek the Library boardlling the baby Mathilda Topanga, but her mom doesn’t seem to be feeling that as a name).
  • I noted weeding before and Glynnis weeded the children’s collection.  Circulation rose 134% for Board books and 36% in ER and circulation decreased in picture books, which didn’t get any weeding attention.  She also inter-filed Juvenile fiction hardback and paperback, after a thorough weed.
  • The new library cards finally came in July, after much fussing about print quality, cut-off barcodes and the like.
  • Debbie wrapped 40 mystery titles in brown paper and Jessica wrote ‘clues’ on the outside of each to promote the adult summer reading program: Literary Elements.
  • Pam, Elizabeth Sellner (our new Bryn Athyn liaison) and I took Geek to the Bryn Athyn Bounty farmers market on July 19.  Pam created three “Geek” chalk board that we invited participants to write on both in the library and during outreach activities.
  • Shawna and MCLINC installed a new 53 Mbps Internet connection, upgrading us from 1.5.  Wifi and a few of the patron workstations continue to run on the free Comcast line.
  • We had 29 volunteers donate 329 hours.  Pam submitted an application to the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to be come a certified organization.

August – circ: 10,966

  • The Board voted to cover the cost of the wine for our wine tasting event, giving us 100% Board participation in 2014 fundraising efforts!  They also voted to give the Director the authority to grant permanent employment status to new employees.
  • Tom joined the team – he has a TON of (academic) library experience AND works at B&N, so he’s very good with reader’s advisory.  Karen came on as a new page, also with great experience from another MCLINC library.
  • We started advertising three community forums in October, as well as a teen forum on October 13, with help from our Teen Board Liaisons!  The Board began meeting with community stakeholders, with a script and questions crafted by the committee with help from the consultant.
  • I submitted a first draft budget and presented to the Township on September 30.  The budget included funds for a new color copy machine, a Summer seasonal position and new electricity contract.  We also submitted our application for State Aid.  As part of the budget, we created the 2015 Wish List for the Friends, with more than $40,000 in requests.
  • Geek the Library made the Midweek Wire on September 3 and Glynnis and I geeked Back to School night at the High school.
  • Liz, the Board and I finalized the Customer Survey for a September 1 launch.
  • We had 20 volunteers donate 189 hours.

September – circ: 10,563

  • We held our Department Head meeting at Always Cafe on September 5 for a change.
  • PMarybeth Summerlin's Memorial receptionrior to the September 11 Board meeting, we invited Mr. Summerlin and his family to the library for a memorial reception in honor of his wife, Marybeth.  Former Board members, Friends and retired staff also attended.
  • Our September program schedule took a hit when we had to cancel the Foreign Film Series.  Following a purposefully quite August, we lost momentum in adult programs that lasted throughout the fall.  Glynnis had author Pat Guth at a Read-Aloud storytime on September 13 and a fun Talk Like a Pirate dress-up storytime on September 19.
  • We set the “Taste of Italy Wine and Dine Fundraiser” date for December 1, with wines selected by Jeff and Hilarie from the Board.
  • I worked on a draft Annual Appeal letter.
  • Glynnis went to the PaLA conference in Lancaster and came back with ideas and a new passion for passive programs.
  • Banned Book Week Display I submitted a complicated Keystone Grant application with historic reviews, letters of support, detailed photos and narratives prior to the due date.  But if we get it, that’s over $30,000 in grant support for new HVAC units. UPDATE: We got it!
  • We launched a new ESL collection, supported by the Friends and cataloged by Jessica and Christina created a really great Banned Books Week display.  Other displays soon followed, once the space was created.
  • How do we promote databases?  Use is low, cost is high and this is an ongoing struggle for us. The weekly newsletter highlights a resource each week, but the impact is minimal.  A goal for 2015!
  • The Girl Scouts installed a new garden outside the Library front entrance in September for their Bronze Star award.  With help from the Township, the garden looks fantastic.
  • We received donations and gifts throughout the year, but were surprised with a $500 book donation from Valley Orthodontics and a bequest from the Mary K. Frank estate in September.  Glynnis bought books that support school reading lists with Dr. Chen’s gift and the bequest will go to the new Endowment Fund.
  • With Tetjana, we created several new collections in Polaris, including New Books, Lifelong Learning (for our very popular Great Courses), and Lucky Day. The Lucky Day collection will replace rentals (we make more with fundraisers) and New Books will help us identify WHERE these new books are for the first 6 months of their life here.
  • We selected new interior paint colors – friendly yellow and brighter colors for the children’s department – blue, green and red – pulled from the new Bookworm.  The walls will be repaired and repainted as part of the insurance claim from spring.
  • We had 24 volunteers donate 172.5 hours – the equivalent of $1,489 in personnel costs.

October – circ: 10,182 – 5th month in a row and 6th month that we were over 10,000 in 2014!!!!

  • On October 7, Pam and I again met with the Township (Chris and Rob).  Rob kindly reviewed and made great suggestions for improving the Annual appeal letter.  These meetings have improved communication between the Library and the Township.
  • A goal for 2015 discussed at the Board meeting – Community Open House with businesses and organizations from the Township.
  • The Fire Prevention Open House on October 11 went great! Marilyn, Miryam and I represented the Library at a Geek-themed table at the Fire House and the crew here at the Library Mariel's Lunch Bunch crew at a teen Community Forumpainted faces and shared snacks and crafts.
  • The Community Forums held on Oct. 13, Oct. 16 and Oct. 25 were facilitated by Liz and attended by the Board.  We were very excited by the success of the two Teen forums on Oct. 13 that I facilitated with help from Mariel – they gave us great feedback and new ideas.  The Teen forums were promoted at the High School on their TV channel.  We extended the online Customer Survey and received 265 entries – staff (Tom) input paper surveys into Survey Monkey to help with analysis.  We heard from 19 teens, 8 community members, 1 school district administrator and 4 Friends.
  • Staff and I made home-made treats for a Friends Appreciation reception on October 22, prior to a program on Leonard Bernstein with Karl Middleman.   Other programs: Crooked Eye Brewery, author Paula Marantz Cohen and Medicare 2015.
  • IKEA couch with two of our great Teen volunteersTom and one of our teen volunteers put together a new IKEA couch (a Friends Wish List purchase) in the Children’s department and we added a new doll house in memory of Harriet Miller.  The Children’s area is so comfortable now, that we have a dad who brings his daughter here for most of the day, so mom (who works nights) can sleep!
  • Jessica wrote a SUCCESSFUL PA Humanities Council grant for a Teen Reading Lounge with facilitator Cheryl Levine!  Glynnis submitted a grant to the Jeanes Hospital for a new Yoga Fusion Music & Movement series for kids in 2015.  While Jeanes did not support Yoga Fusion, the Friends did, along with last-minute requests for a button-maker and Legos.
  • I revised and submitted the Personnel manual to the Personnel committee on Oct. 31.
  • Pam spearheaded moving our Sci-Fi and Fantasy collections, moved a shelf from the workroom to juvenile fiction, and worked with Shawna to set up a temporary “shelving” status for books just checked in, but not yet put away.
  • Debbie, Pam and I took our Geek campaign to the High School homecoming game, which we won!  In 2015, we will go again but just to promote the library and sign folks up for cards.
  • We had 25 volunteers donate 213 hours.

November – circ: 9,466

  • Goldberg Bucks County WinterAt the November 13 Board Meeting, Dr. Goldberg presented Tetjana an original framed print called “Bucks County Winter” in honor of her 30 years of service at the Library!
  • After updating the budget (monthly) to gauge year-end expenditures, we determined that we could afford to mail a professionally-printed annual appeal letter and replace a faulty heat exchange.
  • Miryam booked author Lisa Scottoline for a May 16, 2015 event and fundraiser at the Philmont Country Club!  She is also still in contact with Valerie Plame.
  • I researched Trustee Training and we decided to go with a two-tier approach: ALA’s Trustee Academy online courses and a follow up with Liz from Catalyst to help answer questions and provide information pertinent to us as a non-profit organization.
  • As a result of the Community Forums, I attended a School District Diversity Committee meeting on Nov. 11 and am excited to build a stronger relationship with the schools.
  • I worked to book adult programs for 2015, with children and teen programs pursued by Glynnis, Diane, Mariel and Jessica.
  • Christina left us for a full-time job, so Pam and I posted her position and interviewed candidates on November 28.   We hired Kathleen, a local with a banking background and excellent customer service skills. We also started our year-end “Annual Piece of Paper” conversations with staff to review 2014 goals and set new ones for 2015.
  • After a thorough review and weed of our magazine titles, we renewed with Ebsco.  Titles available through the Zinio online subscription allowed for the heavy weed.
  • We had a full house for Glynnis’s ticketed “Snow Queen” performance on November 22, sponsored by an annual gift from the Daveler Fund.
  • We had 23 volunteers donate 115 hours.

December – circ: TBD

  • Taste of Italy fundraiser with Judy, Board treasurerDecember 1 – Taste of Italy fundraiser!  We had 53 people and made about $1,200.  Hilarie put together a great wine guide and acted as MC for the night.  The restaurant Chef and staff handled the logistics and fed us well.
  • We had another full house for the Write and Illustrate Your Own Book Young Authors Gala with special guest and author Marie-Helene Bertino.  Marie had contacted the Library earlier in the year to let us know she would be speaking at the Book Expo to promote her debut novel.  Marie won the VERY FIRST Write and Illustrate contest in 1990 when it was started by children’s librarian Nancy Hensler.
  • We had two additional author visits – a read-aloud storytime with Michal Noah and Vincent Feldman shared photos from his book City Abandoned.
  • The Annual Appeal mailed after a few last-minute corrections.
  • The Library closed for a second Staff In-service on December 10 so we could ALL participate in mandatory reporter training.  To off-set the cost of the trainer, we opened the afternoon up to other library staff in the county and the Valley Youth Center.  One of the Goals of the new District plan was to have collaborative Continuing Education, so I was happy to organize the first one! The Friends fed us a Thank You brunch that morning.
  • Hubby and I are going on a trip in late December and I leave knowing the library is in very capable and dedicated hands, as has been proven over and over all year long!

Closing Thoughts:

Wow.  What a year.  I want to start with sharing my condolences to Joanne, Jane, and Judy who all lost loved ones in the last 12 months.  We had good times, too!  We celebrated Tetjana’s 30 year anniversary, a new baby to come in January (Update: she came on Jan. 13 and is adorable), and promotions and new jobs.

imagejpeg_0Without intent, we had 12 authors speak this year and we already have Lisa Scottoline booked for next year.  We had two successful fundraisers and I can hardly wait to see how the Annual Appeal will do.  We had our busiest year ever.  Our relationship with the Township and Friends grew in positive and fruitful ways – from more frequent communication, meaningful collaborations and recognizing our interdependence as an asset and strength.  We have actively focused on improving our karma by giving help, giving support, giving our patrons positive experiences and creating an experience and atmosphere in the Library that is uplifting, comfortable and friendly.  I mean, even our new paint color is called “Friendly Yellow” – we take this seriously!  And the smiles, new visitors, that laughter, amazing increases in circulation and program attendance are all the proof I need that we’re going in the right direction.  Now, how much of this forward progress has anything to do with me is debatable.  While I’m stuck back here with spreadsheets, bills, and press releases – they’re up front actually helping people.  Kudos, as always, to them.

 

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