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Service strategies to improve at library branches

Monday, November 26, 2012

A number of strategies to improve service within the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library branches were advanced during the November meeting of the library's board of directors.

The library's request to double the size of the Internet line for the Mt. Vernon Branch was approved. Funding provided through MoreNet and the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries (REAL) Program, both of which will tap into federal E-Rate and Library Services and Technology Act grants, will offset costs. Without support, the upgrade would have cost $12,610.32 and now will cost $400 a year.

Director Gina Milburn reported about three quarters of the planned capital improvements would be finished by the end of December. All of the state equalization funds must be spent by then, so many items were ordered for Barry County branches.

The Shell Knob Friends of the Library requested the board consider erecting a new library building along the Highway 39 strip in 2017. Board members agreed the friends organization could begin fundraising. They noted the Monett building project remained the next construction priority.

Overdue materials remains a pressing concern, prompting the board to approve use of Unique Management Service in October. Milburn reported that as of Oct. 17, the district had 13,250 overdue items. All of the overdue items are worth an estimated $331,250 at an estimated cost of $25 per item.

Milburn provided an updated fines and fees list that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Board members approved the revision.

Damaged and lost material are now separate items and will carry a $2 replacement fee plus the cost of a new item. Overdue material fines will increase to 10 cents per day with a maximum of $5 per item.

In addition, customers will be charged 25 cents per page if staff assistance is needed to scan items. Ear buds for computer use will be available to customers for $1 per package. Branches that still have headphones available will continue to allow their use for free. Customers will be able to bring their own headphones or ear buds for use.

The price of used books will increase. New hardcover books and compact discs or DVDs will sell for $2 per item. Older hardbacks and quality paperbacks will sell for $1 each.

Checkout limits were also added. Customers will be limited to 10 DVDs per card or 10 per family. A total limit of 50 items per cardholder was set. Schools with an annual signed contract will be allowed to check out 99 items per card.

Use of the UMS collection agency will begin on Jan. 1, 2013. Board members agreed to offer an amnesty day in December where patrons can pay half price on all fines, including existing fines, providing materials are returned in good condition.

Financial action

In financial matters, accountant Kurt Krueger from The CPA Group presented the library system's annual audit. The library remains in financially stable condition and had no problems with its accounting practices.

Milburn reported the Missouri State Library has approved the system to receive $37,115.50 for fiscal year 2012-13. With a $100,000 reduction in state funding overall, board members were pleased to learn funding would remain at the same level for the coming year.

The Fall Book Sale in Monett generated $1,515.75. Proceeds will be used to fund the addition of wireless Internet access for the Monett and Aurora branches. All remaining books are being shipped to Better World Books.

Board members voted to renew health insurance coverage with the same carriers. The health insurance policy with Anthem was renewed with a 4.9 percent increase in premium cost, less than the amount budgeted. The district will pay $810.34 per person, an increase of $37.87. Employees will continue to contribute $100 to the plan.

Dental insurance through Delta Dental will have a 3.7 percent premium increase, fitting the budgeted amount. Premiums will rise by $1.33 per full-time employee, from $35.91 to $37.24.

Branch activity

During October, circulation statistics showed Cassville remained the most active branch. Almost all branches had higher circulation totals than the preceding year.

The number of patrons participating in programs also increased. Attendance was credited to special activities.

Approximately 24 customers at the Monett Branch took advantage of the use of the new wireless Internet access during the second half of October.

Sarah Roper, who had worked at the Eagle Rock Branch, has been hired as a part-time library clerk for the Cassville Branch. Raeleen Viera took Roper's place at Eagle Rock.

A load of gravel was spread in the parking lot at the Mt. Vernon branch to complete restoration work on the Center Street side of the building.

Staff completed reviewing and weeding the Purdy Branch in three weeks. The Aurora Branch, which has a much larger collection, was rescheduled as a year-end project.

The board will next meet on Dec. 13

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