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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Staff of the Library System

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 11, 2011

Buying new books, buying eBooks, magazines, DVDs; as well as utilities for library buildings, maintenance and upkeep, are all part of the annual budget of the library system.


The largest part of the library budget is the cost of staffing our 7 buildings and bookmobile, accounting for about 60 percent of expenditures.


The library system currently has 65 staff members both full-time and part-time.


That is reduced from years ago, before computers we had reached a total of 79 staff members.


Our staff tends to remain with the library system for years, with many staff having more than 20 years with the library system.


Like other employees of state and local governments, we are all part of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, and pay 10 percent of our salaries into the retirement system.


Public Library employees have been part of OPERS since 1938.


Our staff already meets the proposed requirement that public employees should pay 15 percent of the monthly cost of their health insurance program, as well as deductibles ranging from $ 1,500 - $ 3,000 and more for prescription plans.


Library staff work evenings and weekends, with each staff member of the library system required to assist the staffing of the Schiappa Branch on Sundays.


The Library system is not a 9 to 5 operation.


Library staff handles the public service desks of the libraries, answer the phone, shelve books, and perform duties necessary for the continued operations of the system.


During 2009 and 2010 when the Public Library Fund had been cut by the State, the library system layoff of 13 people and reduced library hours.


Those hours were restored with the passage of the Library Levy in Nov 2010, and staffing levels have been partially restored to 2008 levels.


We have, however, found other ways of doing things at the library and will likely never return to the 79 employees that we had in 1995.


So, doesn’t the Internet reduce the need for a public library system?


No, the Internet provides a new and fabulous tool that allows us to better serve the public, and allows us to fill the void created as our society has closed offices and agencies in our communities.


As data transmission has expanded and improved, we can now offer eBooks and databases without even coming inside the library proper.


The Public Library remains one of the few agencies remaining with real people working to serve the public, as we have expanded to cover other needs.


We are also seeing more people wanting programs, educational opportunities, and computer training sessions at the library.


The impact of library staff on library users cannot be discounted.  I have become acquainted with librarians from years gone-by through the stories and memories of people today.


A librarian who served people for many years becomes a part of their family.  Many times I have been contacted by someone out-of-town trying to remember the name of a librarian from 50 years ago.


The library staff is an important part of providing service to the public, and I congratulate every one of them for their service.


As I have said before, a library reflects the work of everyone who has ever served that library as a staff member.  Things that are done, parts of the collection, services provided, may relate to people long gone.


And who is the current longest serving library staff member?  That would be me, with 28 years.  Actually there is one person who started part-time before me, and a couple of people who started within weeks after me.  As I said, people seem to work at the library a long time.