NOTE: The Central Library parking lot will be closed Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25 for repairs. We appreciate your patience.

Planning for KPL’s Future

(Libraries) Permanent link

KPL is undertaking a strategic planning process with the help of Sandra Nelson, a nationally known library strategic planner. The process will help us identify service priorities and the allocation of resources based on those priorities.

In these times of declining resources, public institutions need to determine what services the community needs and expects from them, what services are best left to others, what services are of lesser importance.

Our process will involve the public through a “Community Planning Committee,” our board, and our staff. It will result in a recommendation to our board for library service priorities. After the priorities have been approved, the staff will work on writing goals and objectives and the specific activities to accomplish them. It will be about a three to four month process.

This is a challenge, but also an opportunity as we look to the next three to five years. I’ll share periodic updates here on the director’s blog and in Link, our quarterly newsletter.


Strategic Planning

Posted by Ann Rohrbaugh at 02/03/2010 08:31:59 AM | 

When discussing what the community needs and desires a public library I just cringe when I hear that a committee will bemy public voice. I am at the library no less then 5 days a week and usually all seven. I know most of the staff by their names and most of them know me. Yet I have not had a voice and truely do not know that these members of the "committee" will be the voice that I want. Very Concerned.
Posted by: Lynn B. Hotrum ( Email ) at 2/5/2010 9:27 AM

Our stratgeic planning process is a model used in many public libraries and based on common public library services. There will be many voices - staff, board, and community committee - with decisions made by our board.

Public library services are grouped into 18 categories. This process will help our board determine which ones should be priorities for KPL. Declining resources do not allow us to major initiatives in all of them.

Thanks for writing and for your interest and support.
Posted by: AnnR ( Email ) at 2/7/2010 8:44 PM

As a senior and avid reader as well as a constant user of the bookmobile I am concerned about the future of the library, just a few years removed from library of the year honors. The discontinuing of the mobile service that mostly serves seniors now makes us rely on others to get us there. Also, I am dismayed that we need to pay $19,000 to an "advisor" when top library salaries are paid for those people to be able to make the important decisions. Also alarming is the financial statement recently in Library Link. No cuts there to the more than half of the budget to salaries and benefits. This in a time when others are cutting and giving and while taking away services to those who need them. I was alarmed to read of dollars spent now to redo the checkout desk at the main library while the original worked for years perfectly well. Now is not the time to make things as those in charge now wish them to be. I, too, question what any board decides for me as a taxpayer. What qualifications make them qualified to discuss how I use the library? I know, personally, those making the choices at Metro Transit and the lack of experience in knowing the service while cutting and making sure they are squeezing every dollar from those who can least afford it. I have loved the library and lately am a bit disillusioned about it's availability to all. An out-of-towner cannot be making my decisions.
Posted by: Eleanor Castle ( Email ) at 2/9/2010 9:40 AM

Thanks for writing. I want to give some brief responses to your questions but I would be glad to talk further with you directly.

I regret too, as does our board, that we will soon discontinue bookmobile service. Unfortunately with declining tax revenues we just can no longer continue all services. I will mail you a copy of the full report on bookmobile service I gave to our board.

As you know, we are undertaking strategic planning. We are following a public library planning process used in dozens of libraries nationwide. It involves asking community leaders to talk about a vision for our community and the role the library might play - what should be the priorities for the library to help meet these community needs. Staff and board will also have input into the process and the result will be a recommendation to our board for service priorities for KPL.

In the past several months, we have reduced staffing by 6 positions. Of course this has reduced our salary and fringe benefit costs but, not surprisingly, we have reduced some services accordingly. Fewer staff means fewer services, the bookmobile being one.

Yes, there are changes in the circulation area at central library. We added three checkout units and we will have a smaller desk with fewer staff to help. All of these changes were paid for from an anonymous bequest not from our regular operational budget.

Our board members are elected, not appointed. Voters elect library trustees in May as terms expire.

I hope you will contine to use the library. I appreciate an opportunity to address your questions. Other readers of my blog may have similar ones.

Ann Rohrbaugh
Posted by: Ann Rohrbaugh ( Email ) at 2/9/2010 7:26 PM

First, I would like to thank Eleanor Castle for her comments. I too was concerned about the financial report in the Library Links newsletter. At a time when people are having to "bunker down", it seems like the library is engaged in some rather superfluous spending, for example the "new" circulation desk, as well as the new automated checkout. I agree with Eleanor that when you have a system in place that works well it seems wasteful to change for the sake of appearance. Ann Rohrbaugh the director states: "We are following a public library planning process used in dozens of libraries nationwide." This is all very nice but with a budget of approximately $12.5 million, almost $7.5 million of that budget going to employees, I expect that OUR community does not need to spend even more of our precious tax dollars for the know how of how to ask community leaders, and more importantly, LIBRARY USERS, what they would like to see, what they like now and what they dislike now.

I recently read through the Library Journal's Budget Report for 2009. The Kalamazoo Public Library has almost twice the average budget for libraries servicing a population of 100,000 - 249,000. It also has twice the average employee compensation package. This begs the question, exactly how much are the employees making at the library? I would like to see a complete disclosure of all employee salaries as my tax dollars are paying those salaries and I'm not very happy after reading the Library Journal's information. I sincerely hope there is not a large disparity between what employees make at our library and that of other libraries who service a similar number of users.

This is a link to that report that I referenced:
Posted by: Devon Lipler ( Email ) at 2/16/2010 3:40 AM

I can respond to a few of your comments in this brief space. The new circulation desk, equipment, and furnishings for the self check unit were all paid for by an anonymous bequest, NOT public money. Indeed our revenues are declining. We have reduced our staff by 6 positions, increased staff duties, trimmed materials budget, made many “backroom” operational reductions, applied technology to gain efficiencies, and will end bookmobile service in March. Those reductions are not enough. We are undertaking a strategic planning process to set priorities for the next few years. We will then reallocate resources to concentrate on those priorities. We are striving to keep pace with technology and changing informational needs as usage increases and revenues decrease. Taxpayer support has allowed us to recruit and retain a talented staff whose competence and skills have served the community well, as evidenced by our millage renewal vote in May by almost 75%.
Posted by: Ann Rohrbaugh ( Email ) at 2/18/2010 9:19 AM

Here's my question---Why didn't you use the (obviously large) bequest to maintain, instead of cut, your valued services (Bookmobile, anyone?). You trimmed material budgets- money used for books etc! All the things you've used the anonymous bequest for WERE NOT NEEDED. You chose not to buy more books, but instead bought an unneeded new desk. This is a library! It's unbelievable that you chose to cut books when you had money! I didn't vote to renew your millage so you could misspend my tax payer money. The way you're choosing to spend now, I'll never vote in favor of a KPL millage again!
Posted by: Nadine ( Email ) at 2/22/2010 4:53 PM

KPL was fortunate to be one of several community organizations to receive a portion of this anonymous bequest. Our board, like most governing boards, decided that this one-time-only money should not be used for ongoing costs. It could have been used to buy a new bookmobile but we would have had the ongoing operational costs of maintenance, staffing, materials for a service that was used by relatively few of our patrons and duplicated services available at branches and central library. Instead we used some of the money for one-time costs that would reduce our ongoing operational costs and help us gain efficiencies. We installed a RFID system that allowed us to offer self check and we redid the circulation desk for better patron service and to free up staff. Some of the money is in our capital improvement account where it could be used for future projects,as needed. In the meantime it will help us with cashflow and reduce the need to borrow money until tax revenues are received. Finally some of it was added to our endowment for long term growth. We believe the donor would be happy with this combination of uses of their generous gift to the library. I hope this helps you understand what we did with this money and why, and I hope you will continue to use the library.

Ann Rohrbaugh
Posted by: Ann Rohrbaugh ( Email ) at 2/24/2010 7:44 PM

It is worldwide. The whole public sector is required to become more effective and beneficial to modern technology
Posted by: Tihomir ( Email ) at 4/21/2010 3:08 PM

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