Thread: Library Hours
Anyone know how the change in the Library hours came about? I searched for a mention of it on Sowal, but did not find. Also searched the County Website for Minutes or an Agenda Item for it, but did not find it there either.
I read in the newspaper that the hours were changing due to budget cuts; and the days to close had been decided based on a study of traffic during all the days; I would like more information and to know who made the decision.
I really think that not having the Library open at all on the weekend is a disservice to all the people who work during the day Mon-Fri. Monday evening until 8 pm just does not make up for losing Saturdays IMO.
My grandchildren and I go to the library a lot and no weekend hours make it difficult during the school year.
I would like to know how this happened and who to lodge a complaint/request to reconsider with. Anybody know?A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
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09-02-2009, 08:20 AM #2
I checked with Ken Little, Walton County Citizen Services Director, about this. I asked about swaping a weekday for a Saturday, and he said they would look into it, but Saturdays were one of the slowest days, and Mondays were actually their busiest. His number is 892-8530. He was very helpful, and said that he would stay in touch about the issue.
I wondered about the decision too - but figured that they used the door counts to figure the schedule.
I know that I purposefully avoided the library on saturdays because of the 331 cluster and then would go Monday after work and figured others did too. (Yes, I know there is an alternate route besides 331, but I have a tendency to autopilot).
09-02-2009, 12:29 PM #4
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
- In the little town with FUN in the middle
SJ - they have a clipboard at the checkout where they keep track of how many people use the various services each day and go in and out.
I thought the electronic thingies at the entrance did counts too.
09-02-2009, 04:27 PM #7
I read this in the paper too.
It would be nice if we could have Saturday's back and maybe they'd consider opening later in the morning and staying open later in the evening (10:30 - 7:30, etc) so us 9-5ers can go to the library with our kids. I was very disappointed to learn the library closed on Saturdays... my kids were equally disappointed especially now since school started back!
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09-02-2009, 05:12 PM #8
- Join Date
- May 2007
- The Westernish end.
Even if there isn't an actual counter, which I find hard to believe, there are plenty of other ways to determine usage.
Books checked out/returned inside
Hourly visual counts
I doubt that the librarians just wanted back to back days off and it's quite frankly insulting to the staff. Librarians generally aren't in it for the money, much like school teachers, firefighters, cops, etc. They could still have back to back days off with Sunday and Monday.
I think the people who work at Coastal Branch are great. They have helped to instill a love of books, reading, and the Library itself in both my grandchildren, and I am sure, in many other children.
They certainly don't get paid enough, and I would be willing to bet, they were not particularly listened to when this subject came up. I think they are dedicated and knowledgeable, not to speak of helpful, kind, and friendly to everyone. And surely not appreciated as much as they should be by the "powers that be".
I can think of several things that the County pays for that I would eliminate before I would close the Library to everyone who works Monday through Friday!
Last edited by GoodWitch58; 09-02-2009 at 08:23 PM.A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
09-02-2009, 08:28 PM #10
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
- DeFuniak Springs
Attached is the latest report and all the stats I had. The only counts I have are in DeFuniak Springs. I had to turn them into pdf files so not sure the whole thing is there, I sent them to WCTA in the past, maybe they will get on the website if people need further or just get Ken Little to get them for you.
09-02-2009, 09:18 PM #11
The WCTA conducted a non-scientific survey in 2007 concerning the priorities for funding of county programs and agency's. Although this survey is now 2 years old we believe that the study still has merit as we are faced with funding priorities. Over 1300 people participated in this survey in Walton County.
We will probably update this survey after this years budget process.
This is a link to the original 4-page survey.
http://www.waltontaxpayers.org/PDF Files/Survey Handout.pdf
Last edited by WCTA; 09-02-2009 at 09:23 PM.Thank You Walton County !
Our Hotline received 1168 calls during it's first month of operation.
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09-03-2009, 12:40 AM #13
OK, I'm going to try to explain this. This is long, so hang on to your hat. It’s not a simple question, so there are no simple answers. As Citizen Services Director for the County, I oversee the operation of the Library system and was at the table for the budget scrub representing the Library and the 7 other departments under Citizen Services along with the 21 non-profits that seek funding from the county every year.
The county had a $8.5M shortfall in revenue for the upcoming budget year from last year's budget. Florida law does not allow local governments to operate at a deficit as the federal government can do. As we entered the budget process, we were looking for ways to reduce expenses, and continue to do so as next budget year (2011) isn't looking any better as the tax base drops in value and sales tax revenues drop. The Library entered the budget scrub with a 6% reduction from last year's budget. We were directed to find another $200,000 in cuts from the Library to help meet the shortfall.
Bear in mind that the Library budget is about One (that’s right, 1) percent of the county’s overall budget. In normal times, and especially in tight times, road paving and public safety is going to trump Library services, veterans services, housing, and all the other social services that people have come to expect from their local government. While there may be passionate arguments for social services and quality of life, the voters and taxpayers will choose roads and safety every time.
For starters we lost 1.5 FTE positions out of 17 FTE’s (that's a full time person and a part time person) from staff in the budget process this year. Those were vacancies that had not been filled. Fortunately, no one who is presently working in the Library lost their job...as many librarians across the state are as libraries are being closed or severely cut back. We have four library operations across the county, plus a bookmobile -- we are stretched thin to provide adequate library services as it is.
Next was Library service hours -- service hours equate directly to payroll costs and utilities cost. It also equates to staff scheduling to provide adequate coverage during the hours the libraries are open. When you have a skeleton crew and extended service hours, it is hard to provide the coverage that is needed. You can't operate a library with one person. People get sick, people need to take time off to take care of family emergencies -- any number of situations come to mind that result in less than basic staffing. We have to be able to flex people to fill the slots and still provide the service that you expect in an adequate manner. We do our best to move people around to fill the voids as we have to -- but it's a big county, and frankly. people work best in a consistent work environment.
Payroll costs – this is the biggest chunk of the Library’s budget as we’re in a service business -- Our professional librarians - we have four with Masters degrees in Library Science and the appropriate experience as our Library Director (who also manages the Walton-DeFuniak Library as well as the entire system), the branch managers at Coastal Branch and Freeport, and the Cataloguer (who works at Freeport). The Cataloguer is the person who receives all the incoming new books, processes them into our system and other databases around the state, and sees that they are equitably distributed around the four libraries in the system to meet reader demands. This is a tough job that requires a special skill to perform correctly. They are compensated on a par with professional librarians in our area and around the state.
Our Library Clerks on the other hand are at the bottom of the county pay scale. They are paid at Grade 2 (there is no Grade 1) along with the custodians and the laborers in Public Works - and have not had a raise, COLA, or step increase for the last two years. These are the people you meet at the circulation desk, the people who put the books back on the shelves, "read the shelves" (ensure books are placed on the shelf in the proper order so you can find something -- think about this next time you're browsing in the library and grab a book off the shelf – please put it back where you got it; not laying it on the counter, or down in some empty space on the next shelf if you decide to not check it out). These are the people we have to have in place to provide you with Library services. We provide them with on-the-job training, close supervision by the professional librarians, and as many seminars and training availabilities as we can get at low or no cost -- and they do a great job. A special thank you to SWGB for his post regarding these folks -- No, they are not in it "for the money" - but they are damn grateful to have a job in this dwindling economy and era of budget cuts, and would gladly work on Saturday if directed to do so – but they also deserve to have two consecutive days off like everyone else. They work hard to serve you and to earn the little bit of money they make.
Utilities Cost – it has been suggested to me that there’s no savings here – yes, the air conditioners are still running to protect the books; but at a higher setting when the Library is closed. The lights are off, and the door isn’t being opened and closed to air condition the great outdoors. It’s a small savings, but a savings nonetheless.
Operating Costs – this is the part of the budget that buys books, office supplies and operating supplies (little things like book covers to protect our books, copy paper for the copiers and the printers on the computers, pens, paper clips, and the like. There are several different line items in the budget with these costs – postage for inter-Library loans (we do a big business here by the way – if there’s a book that you need that we don’t have, we can get it from virtually any library in the state of Florida), phone service, Internet service, utilities, travel and per diem for training, fuel for the Bookmobile, repairs to equipment, purchase of small office items (less than $1000 value), subscriptions to various Internet databases, etc. This was pared way back in an effort to help meet the budget shortfall. Utilities are what they are – we have to keep the lights on and the Internet connectivity; travel has been cut to essentially zero (nobody travels unless it’s for job-required certification), etc. These are relatively small costs in their individual line items, but in the aggregate can add up to a bit.
The Library entered the budget scrubs with substantial cuts in this area, but more was cut in the process. Don’t expect to see any free book markers at the circulation desk (and please don’t fold the page over to mark your place – get a 3x5 card, use a napkin, or tear off a piece of your daily newspaper); no Librarians traveling to the American Library Association conference to maintain proficiency in their field, or free copies on the copier when you visit If something breaks down, it probably won’t get fixed for a while. Book purchases have been limited to what the State Aid to Libraries grant will purchase. This upcoming year, it’s about $15,000, plus what we’ve been able to save from the current year – severely down from the $200,000 we were accustomed to getting in years past. Over the years, we’ve put about $150,000 into new books each year. Plan to enjoy the 100,000+ volumes we have on the shelves now. I’m sure you haven’t read them all.
Capital purchases – this is new equipment costing $1000 or more – don’t look for any as we don’t have a budget for it. Though not meeting the definition of capital purchases in the state accounting guidelines, we can’t buy any new computers to replace the aging ones, or the ones that break down. This year we had to buy a new server to maintain our connectivity with the state collection database and keep our circulation system going…but we can’t buy any new public use computers in the next budget year. We’re going to do the best we can in this area. Join or generously support the Friends of the Coastal Branch Library – they can buy and donate new books and computers for the library.
Finally – to the issue at hand of the Coastal Branch Library closing on Saturday: The decision to adopt new service hours effective 1 August was made with all the above in mind. Thanks to SWGB for his observations and thoughts on collecting usage data. We use all the methods mentioned. In particular, every book checked out is tracked in the computer; every computer usage is logged; and folks who come in the door to look at the current art display, browse the stacks, read a newspaper, look at the history corner, etc. are counted. Our Library Director maintains some fairly elaborate usage data for all the branches that is reported to me each month – as do all the other Citizen Services departments. Is it foolproof and perfect? No, but we try.
Almost every call I’ve received on this issue has cited the need for “service to the working folks who can’t come on weekdays.” If they had been coming in on Saturdays to support this, we might not be where we are. The simple fact is that people have not used the Coastal Branch Library as much on Saturday as they do other days of the week. That’s not to say that people don’t go on Saturday, but not to the extent they use it other days of the week. Surprising to everyone, Monday is the busiest day of the week in the Coastal Branch – don’t ask me why. That pretty much debunks the “open on Saturday, close on Monday” alternative. While we have people of all persuasions using the Coastal Branch Library, most are retirees, fortunate people who don’t have to show up for a regular day job, or snowbirds here in the winter season.
Another issue is “service to the school kids who need to do homework and research.” All the Walton District Schools have computers in every room, a computer lab in every school (to my understanding), and class time to use the computers. Yes, there are home-schooled kids who come to our Libraries, but most of them have computers at home and broad-band Internet service – otherwise, their parents wouldn’t go the home-schooled route in this day and age. Plus, they don’t have to be physically present at school during the week and one or the other of their parents should be home as well if they’re home-schooled. Our Library system tries hard, and works very well to augment, supplement and complement the School District’s efforts. We stock Accelerated Reader program books, our Library Director works closely with the Media Specialists in all the district schools, and we’re eagerly waiting to work with the Northwest Florida State College branch in South Walton, just as we work with the Chautauqua Branch of NWFSC in DeFuniak Springs. We have a current Walton school district Media Specialist who has just been appointed to our Library Advisory Board to help steer and improve the Library system’s efforts in this regard, and we’re looking forward to working with her.
A sidebar to this is the number of school kids who come to the library in the afternoon after school to await pick up by their parents who are both working. We are delighted to have them in the Library (as long as they behave), and consider them the next generation of library patrons and supporters – but closing on a weekday would shut off this alternative “child care” for quite a few of our working parents. We’d rather see them learning in our library than as latch-key kids getting off a school bus at an empty house.
The big factor is the staffing and equitable provision of services around the county. We wanted to be able to provide full service throughout the county with no one having to drive more than 25 miles to get to a public library on any day except Sunday when all the libraries are closed. Remember that our county is 1100 square miles big, only 57,000 estimated population and 15.5 FTE’s to provide service in our libraries.
Our Freeport Library is staffed with a branch manager (with a MLS degree), and a Cataloguer who serves the entire county system (with a MLS degree), and two Library Clerks. As a central location in the county, the Freeport Branch Library was built with the idea in mind of being the central receiving point for new books to be distributed to the entire system. It’s built with a roll-up door receiving area, work space to process the new books, and all that that entails. The other libraries are not. The Cataloguer needs to be able to talk with the Purchasing folks (who work Monday through Friday) to do her job; the branch manager likes to work on Saturday.
Therefore, Freeport needs to be open on Saturday. With the 25 mile radius in mind, that means that Flowersview up by Paxton needs to be open on Saturday as well. That leaves Walton-DeFuniak Library (on the Circle in DeFuniak Springs) and the Coastal Branch to be closed on Saturday and open another day in the week with the budget constraint of only being open five days per week at each branch. Under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (federal law) we can’t work our hourly library staff more than 40 hours per week without paying overtime (and we don’t have budget for overtime at 1.5 times pay) – and we don’t have enough FTE’s in the budget to hire more workers.
Recognizing that Monday is the busiest day at the Coastal Branch, it is open until 8:00 pm on Mondays to provide services, and 9 til 5 on Tuesday through Friday. It should be possible to plan your visits accordingly without much hardship.
Why are we in this situation? Money, taxes, county revenue, declining economy, pick one or all. Nothing comes without cost. It takes money to pave and maintain roads, keep cops on the road, provide ambulance service, to operate libraries, and the myriad of other things that the county government does for you in return for the taxes you pay. I know I preach to the choir here, but money is in short supply. Between the voter-approved Amendment 1, declining tax base, and the legislature’s zeal for reducing local government revenues there are going to be either fewer services, or lesser services if all are maintained. The taxpayers who support all this have insisted on reducing local government’s expenses to hopefully reduce the amount of taxes they pay each year. Since everybody has their own idea of what’s important, it’s patently impossible to ask each and every one of you which services you want cut out, reduced, or provided in lesser quality. You get that opportunity every two years or so at the voting booth. It’s a zero sum game; if you provide the funding in one place, you have to reduce or cut it accordingly from another. In an ideal world, it balances out where everybody is happy with the end result -- but we live in an imperfect world.
We try to provide you with the best possible Library services with the funding available. I’m grateful to be employed by the county to do this, and like to think I do my dead level best to support your needs and desires. Nothing speaks as loudly as usage of services where they are available – not squawking about services terminated that weren’t used in the first place. I stand ready to catch the spears and brickbats when we fall short of your expectations; but please do me and yourself a favor and don’t take out your frustrations on the Library folks as many have already done. It’s not of their making. They are there to serve you and are glad to do so, but they don’t drive policy or revenue distribution. They are no more distressed than I, the county administration or the County Commissioners with the prospect of reducing services to you – but decisions have to be made with the resources available to us.
We continue to monitor the library usage and try to provide the services that you want with the resources available to us – and are willing to try a new approach where we can. If you have constructive suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them; and assure you that they will be seriously considered and implemented if possible – or passed on to those who make policy and approve the funding in a coherent plan that will work. Please call me at (850) 892-8530 or e-mail at email@example.com.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for listening.
Ken LittleLeave early and you won't be stuck in traffic.
Thanks, Ken for the explanation and the time you took to post it.A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
My comment about library clerks maybe enjoying two days off in a row is not intended to be an insult, SWGB. I don't know why you think it would be. I would think that most people, regardless of wage levels, would enjoy two days off in a row. Henry Ford knew it was good for employees, and more employers should allow it.
Regarding the well intended comment from Mr Little asking people to re-shelve their own books, that is good, but only if you know where it goes. On more than one occasion, I've been in libraries and overheard library staff asking people to NOT re-shelve the books they pull, because they don't typically pay attention to where they are placing the book, and often get it wrong.
I thought that with the economic downturn library usage increased - people coming in to file for unemployment, do job searches, find something to do w/ their free time etc.
Is that accurrate?
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