Thursday, February 01, 2007
New Beginnings Behind the Scenes
January 1 brings good tidings for County departments, because the new budget year kicks in, and we can breathe a sigh of relief. The bulk of our “discretionary” funds for books, magazines, and supplies, is usually spent between January and April, and by December, we are holding our breath to squeak by. Our regular vendors are all aware of our new budget funds of course, and they descend during December and January to tempt us with all those titles we so want to provide for our patrons. It’s a juggling act to buy what we need and to keep it in line with the budgeted funds.
Once the books start arriving, the Technical Services division of the library system becomes chaotic. CCLS actually operates with 4 separate units: we have the three branches, where citizens use all our library services and collections, and then there is Tech Services, where the ordering, paying, organizing, and distributing of items to the branches occurs. Tech Services deals with the inventory of items, handles all the incoming and outgoing interlibrary loan books, and tracks the overdue cash that comes in for delivery to the County Treasurer. The County Librarian’s office is part of this mix, so the grant writing, new releases, and shameless marketing are all done from this division as well. I tell the staff that the branches are the pretty faces, and Tech is the muscle!
But please don’t get the idea that those “pretty faces” do nothing but check out books. We have just finished submitting our annual report to the Texas State Library, and this year, we have exceeded expectations in a big, big way. The branches have increased walk-in traffic and circulation by over 20%, and programming increased by half. Those amazing figures translate to even more residents utilizing what the County provides in this best of “quality of life” services. It’s a great use of tax dollars for many, many citizens.
On the 19th, we were privileged to host a workshop presented by the Houston Area Library System. It was attended by area librarians, and two of our staff members were able to attend as well. Rhonda LeBlanc and Lesa Boutin walked out with yet more book requests for titles that they just had to have to share with their patrons. More work for Tech Services!
Alice Breaux and Lesa Boutin received their Librarian Certifications from the Texas State Library and Archives this month. All full-time staff maintain their state certifications through a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education each year. Thanks to education and training funds in the county budget, we are also able to provide several part-time staff members with opportunities to improve their service to the public.