LION President’s Report for 2016
Oh, 2016, you started out with such promise to be a banner year for our libraries! Indeed, members of the LION board began 2016 ready to engage in a strategic planning process that included the potential for standardizing our lending policies and practices to better serve our patrons. Those efforts were eclipsed when the statewide delivery service began to unravel before our eyes. When the Connecticut State Library announced that its relationship with a contracted delivery vendor would end and the service brought in-house, we anticipated minor and short-term disruption.
By April, we continued to be optimistic that the transition might have a happy ending. We focused on positive communication with the State Library and thought that by demonstrating how much our users value having items easily delivered from other libraries, we could persuade the State Library to restore the service we’d come to rely on prior to 2016. That was not to be the case and today we understand that the delivery service, the backbone of resource sharing in Connecticut, is no longer able to meet its former capacity. New policies initiated by the State Library to restrict volume have significantly impacted our patrons’ timely access to library materials.
Many LION members, as well as Alan Hagyard and Andy Gardner from the LION staff, have and/or continue to participate on DeliverIt task forces and study groups. We are appreciative of Alan’s work compiling and presenting good data throughout the process. In May, the LION Board hosted a special meeting with the State Librarian and the Director of the Division of Library Development during which we continued to make a good case for recognizing that delivery is and should remain a core service. Desiring to be part of a solution, we asked what LION libraries can do to contribute to a long-term viable plan for resource sharing and delivery. Thank you to all of our members for fighting a good fight. We should be proud of our collective response to this continuing crisis and not lose sight of the importance of timely access to library materials for the residents of our state.
While this ongoing challenge is unlikely to be resolved to our satisfaction in the near future, there are other successes to acknowledge. The LION staff, a dedicated and professional team, continues to anticipate our needs and provides us with excellent service under the direction of Alan and Andy. The year-end reports prepared by the LION staff give more detail about just how much this nimble team accomplishes on our behalf.
Rick Widlansky worked closely with the CT Education Network (CEN) to help us understand how federal e-rate funding will allow some libraries to acquire fiber Internet connections and how statewide funding reductions will affect libraries that already have fiber connections and must begin paying for the service. Maria Bernier from the State Library and Brynn Deprey from CEN joined forces to help our libraries understand and apply for e-rate funding.
We are also grateful to all of our LION committee chairs and members for their participation. Our e-Book Development Committee under the leadership of Deb Barberi selects materials for our shared collection and wrestles with issues of high holds, new items, and expired titles. An expanded budget for downloadable content means that these committee members select about $11,000 worth of titles for the collection every month!
Kayleigh Sprague and Justin Stickland worked with the Minecraft Committee to create policies and guidelines and generate excitement for bringing LION-wide Minecraft to life. Janet Flewelling and the LUX Committee investigated features of a number of SMS texting service. Its recommendation of Shoutbomb prevailed and is currently being implemented by the LION staff. The Shared Objects Task Force made great strides in selecting objects that may be used by our libraries. Thanks to the leadership of Brittany Pearson, we have policies and procedures in place and an enticing list of objects that are cataloged and will be ready to circulate to our libraries shortly.
At the beginning of 2016, we welcomed the Levi Coe Library in Middlefield and its Director, Jessica Lobner, to LION. Changes in leadership at LION libraries brought new directors to our table including Cyndi Shirshac from Durham, Tom Piezzo from Brainerd Memorial, Matt Poland from Russell, Pat LaTerza from North Haven, and Katie Huffman from Old Lyme.
We are fortunate to have statewide leaders on the LION Board. Beth Crowley, Director of the Scranton Library, was an outstanding President of CLA and has since passed the torch to Karen Jensen, Director of the Blackstone Memorial Library.
Finally, each year the Institute of Museum and Library Services presents select museums and libraries with the nation’s highest honor, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. In 2016, the Otis Library in Norwich was a recipient. How proud we are to have a recipient of this high honor in our consortium.
Jane Fisher, LION President