Category Archives: Chat from the community

New “Maker kits” at Timberland Libraries (coming soon)

From the Department reports for tomorrow’s meeting, a reference to the development of Maker Kits:

In addition to revising and updating existing kits, we will develop new kits center on the theme of “Maker Kits” based on the concept of “Maker Spaces”. These kits will all enable the involvement of participants in creative activities extending their skills and interests by providing tools and materials not normally available in their communities. 45 examples of maker spaces were reviewed from a “Maker Spaces” web site, and we will individually and collectively work on implementation ideas for this year.

Last year there was a short discussion (online and otherwise) about hosting a Makerspace at the Olympia library. Obviously, space is an issue, but it is great to see our staff making positive moves in this direction!

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My community conversation reflection (thanks to all who attended)

I attended the community conversation at the Lacey Library for about an hour last month. I couldn’t stay for the entire thing (and I was in and out throughout the meeting helping my oldest in the library), but I’m glad I went.

Before I go further, I encourage you to read Justin’s take of the same event here. He has the sort of optimistic view of libraries that we need to move forward.

There were some great suggestions during the meeting. I also noticed that it was a good opportunity for library staff to talk about what was actually available at the library, which brings me to my main reflection I suppose. There is a lot of resources (teaching modules for example) that our typical patron doesn’t really know about. And, I think there might be a way to better arrange how they access these resources.

For example, TRL has built hands-on activity modules. These kits include supplies for special activities that library staff can conduct with patrons. Or, more basically, we have a teen DIY night.

Ellen Duffy, TRL’s youth services coordinator, was in the middle of talking about a science module to a patron and the patron and the patron asked how they’d find out when one was being deployed. These modules (as I understand them) are activity kits that each library has access to. They (the library) checks them out and then schedules an event. Ellen said something along the lines of “you’d have to depend on the staff at your library” and check the calendar when one was being held.

Okay, here’s my point finally: this process of accessing the very rich, tactile and non-book resources TRL owns could be more like putting a book on reserve. 

1. Patrons should be able to see a list or database of all the possible moduled events TRL could offer.

2. Additionally, patrons should be able to “reserve” a module for a branch. A single reserve shouldn’t mean that the event will happen, but when several patrons (say 5) all request the same module.

Lastly, its awesome to point out that the results of the community conversations are already being inserted into our budget process. You can read the results of of the conversation here. Our draft budget prioritieshere reflect some of the lessons learned from the conversations. For example, “Highlight current services/resources through programs, resources, advertising, outreach” in the priorities being a direct result of “(m)ore often than we would like, they asked for services that we already offer” (from the Director’s report).

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Filed under budget, Chat from the community, technology

Two great library ideas from followers on twitter

The first is what looks like a promising alternative to Overdrive (a popular ebook vendor that Timberland uses), via epersonae:

Ultimately, I can see a number of possibilities that the Douglas County experiment and related ones are opening up for the library world. The more America’s public libraries can do on their own, the more bargaining power they will enjoy will companies like OverDrive—paving the way, I’d hope, for the eventual purchase of OverDrive as a shortcut to a well-stocked national digital library system. OverDrive has been spent years dealing with publishers and hosts “more than 650,000 premium digital titles,” including its share of books from the majors.

The most promising aspect of this project (as I understand it) is that it involves very little participation by outside companies. Its the ebook version of the library buying equipment (shelves) and putting their own materials on it. The alternative is a vendor owning the shelves and standing between the library and the owner of the content.

And, from rossfuqua, a local music project at the Iowa City library:

We’ve dealt directly with musicians, who have leased us the rights to offer their music as part of the project. Our leases cover local material, sometimes out of print, and even live shows. As a result of this exposure, we hope new fans will go to a local show around town or even purchase copies of more recent records from these musicians. It’s also our hope that this model catches on, and other libraries adopt it, leading to a revenue stream for local musicians.
We’re happy to answer questions about our new service. Please contact us for more information.

Its also very important to note that the library is compensating the local artists:

The library invested about $5,000 from its collection budget in the project to compensate the artists for the right to distribute their work for two years.

Local blues artist Catfish Kieth — who has three albums available for download through the project — said it gives people a way to feel good about downloading music for free.

“The public gets free music, and the artists are compensated. It’s a good thing,” Keith said.

There was likely funds put to developing or implementing software for the project, but $5,000 is an incredibly small amount from a collections budget.

And, this is 100 percent exactly where I want the library to go. Curating local content should be the wheel house of any local library system. It could very well move beyond music and enter the realm of local history and writing projects.

For example, last night because of the trustee meeting in Hoquiam, we booted a writers group out of the main meeting room (sorry about that guys!). They had started coming together because of a six-week writing course put on by the Hoquiam branch. Now that they’re meeting regularly, why couldn’t the library host an ebook editions of their work?

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Give TRL your ideas (May 15 and 17 in Thurston County)

Here’s an announcement for what will hopefully be a yearly tradition of holding public conversations with our patrons about what the Timberland Regional Library should be doing. These conversations will cover all aspects of library service, including collections, technology, facilities and programming.

These conversations are part of our yearly budgeting process, a sort of early look out to the public to see what we could be doing differently.

There isn’t too much more I can say about these meetings, other than: please, please, please attend a meeting near you. If you can’t, you can add your thoughts below. Or, TRL staff will be setting up some online places to get your opinion as well.

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What a great gift to the Olympia Timberland Library

Yesterday Adrienne Doman (@innerlibrary) tweeted a couple of photos of an amazing gift that was found in the juvenile fiction stacks.

And, the note:

The book itself is “30 Tales to Give You Goosebumps,” by R.L. Stine.

Just amazing. I especially like the use of the district’s twitter username in the thank you note.

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Explaining the possible annexation of Hoquiam into Timberland

At the last board meeting in Amanda Park, we agreed to go ahead with a public vote on whether Hoquiam will annex into the Timberland Regional Library system. There seems to be some confusion on what the impact of annexation would be on the Hoquiam Library, that Hoquiam would lose control over its library or that Timberland will close down the branch.

I’ll explain more below, but the bottom line is that the only way to make sure the Hoquaim library stays open is for Hoquiam to annex into Timberland. If Hoquiam annexes, nothing changes at all.

Here is a very good Q&A from the last city that voted to annex into Timberland. Shelton passed their annexation by 80 percent.

So, a little background:

When it was formed, the Timberland Regional Library district was only able to serve rural residents, people living outside city boundaries. Almost immediately though, Timberland began relationships with cities to serve people in incorporated areas.

There are two ways Timberland can serve city residents, through annexation and a contract. Currently Hoquiam is one of three cities that contract with Timberland for service (Winlock and Raymond also contract).

All of the other cities in which Timberland provides services are annexed into the district. There are also cities that are annexed into TRL that don’t have libraries (Cosmopolis and Rainier). This could be where the fear of TRL closing the Hoquiam library comes from, since Cosmopolis once had a library which was closed in the 1980s. But, since it costs over $400,000 to run the Hoquiam library and we collect only $150,000 from Hoquiam in contract fees, if the board wanted to close the branch, we would have done so by now.

Also, since Hoquiam contract with TRL for library service, Hoquiam would have no less control over the Hoquiam library if the city annexed than it does now. The city would still own and largely maintain the building, but TRL would provide the library staff, books and services (as it does now).

So, the distinction between annexed and contract cities is only how the money to provide library services is funneled. In contract cities, the money comes from the city government itself. In annexed cities, Timberland levies its own tax to provide services.

The amounts in either case are identical because the contract fee for cities that contract with Timberland is always what the library district would have collected in taxes.  So, in the case of Hoquiam, if the city had been annexed into Timberland in 2009, Timberland would have collected just shy of $150,000 in library taxes from the residents. But, because the city had contracted with Timberland, that same money still came from city residents, but came through the city first.

So, why would a city choose to contract instead of annexing in?

1. Finances: The cause of Hoquaim to look at annexation now was the closure of the Grays Harbor paper mill. That closure put a large strain on the city’s own budget, and they looked to cut costs.

I’m not sure what the property tax levy is in Hoquiam, but there are some changes that occur when a city annexes into a library district. Here is a very detailed description. But, the basic formula is:

Without a library district the city can assess up to $3.375 per thousand.

Annexed into a district, the city can levy up to $3.60 per thousand minus what the library levies (which is as high was $.50 per thousand, but right now is about $.35). The Hoquiam levy (as far as I can tell) is $3.29.

I certainly don’t want to speak with any level of authority on this, but from what I can tell, annexing into the district at these rates would decrease the possible city level to $3.25.

2. Control: Basically speaking, if a city is annexed into a library district and wants to run its own library (like how Ocean Shores does now), its harder to leave. If Hoquiam votes to annex in and then decides to leave, the city needs to wait at least three years. Then, it takes a vote of the entire city, not just a decision by the city council.

On the other hand, a contract city could just decide not to renew the contract and be on its own almost immediately.

So, in the end, since the Hoquiam city council has indicated they’d like to not pay a contract fee, the only certain source of funding for the Hoquiam Library is through a direct levy by Timberland. I’m certainly not in favor of closing the library under any circumstances.

Also for further reading, here is an interesting article about Pasco and the Mid-Columbia library system and their recent contract talks.

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Misunderstanding of levy capacity of libraries behind Yelm situation

There might be a misunderstanding of how long intercounty rural library districts can bond for built into the proposal for Yelm and TRL to split the cost of buying the Yelm branch. Rural library districts (like Timberland Regional Library) have a much shorter borrowing period than other local governments (6 compared to 20), making large borrowing much more expensive.

From an opinion piece by Mayor Ron Harding in the Nisqually Valley News:

The planned proposal reduces Timberland Regional Library’s estimated cost from about $90,000 per year down to about $37,000, which should be affordable even under TRL current budget constraints.

From another opinion piece earlier in the Nisqually Valley News:

Though Timberland will be asked to pay approximately $600,000 of the cost for purchasing the library, it really is a reasonable expense.

To get from $37,000 to $600,000 (plus the interest on the bonds) , you have to take the loan out to 20 years. $37,000 multiplied by 20 years gets you to $740,000, which is roughly the principal plus interest.

The problem with this calculation is that unlike other local governments, rural library districts can only bond for six year periods. To afford a $600,000 loan, TRL would have to pay it back over a shorter period of time. An amortization schedule prepared by TRL staff pegs that cost at over $114,000 a year.

RCW 27.12.222 is the governing statute in this case:

A rural county library district, intercounty rural library district, or island library district may contract indebtedness and issue general obligation bonds not to exceed an amount, together with any outstanding nonvoter approved general obligation indebtedness, equal to one-tenth of one percent of the value of the taxable property within the district, as the term “value of the taxable property” is defined in RCW 39.36.015. The maximum term of nonvoter approved general obligation bonds shall not exceed six years…

There have been at least two efforts (HB 1930 and HB 1813) to extend the term of bonds that library boards can issue, but both of these efforts failed. Though, they did have some traction, so its not like it was a totally unpopular idea.

Non-voter approved bonds split between a city and a library district are not the only path to making sure the current Yelm library stays where it is. A Library Capital Facility Area, I think, would be a much better option.

And, since Mayor Harding has assurance that the library could stay in its current location for the short term at the city’s expense, I’m pretty sure that would give us the time we need to get an LCFA campaign together.

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Filed under Chat from the community, Yelm