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04/01/2014 - Report: Ringer Library Audit - City Council - Audit Committee Insert Report Title Here Insert Report Title Here 1 Ringer Library Operations Audit April 2014 City Internal Auditor’s Office City of College Station File#: 13-03 Audit Executive Summary: Ringer Library Why We Did This Audit This audit was conducted per direction of the City of College Station Audit Committee. The Audit Committee requested assurance and consultation services in regards to: (1) how efficiently and effectively the Larry J. Ringer Library is being managed, (2) how to best spend the library redesign bond money, and (3) whether the Bryan-College Station interlibrary agreement is still in the best interest of the City of College Station. What We Recommended  The library should increase its usage of technology (comprising recommendations 1, 6, and 10).  The library should alter its current staffing model (comprising recommendations 2, 8, 9, and 11).  The library should institute written policies, procedures, and performance measures (comprising recommendations 3, 5, and 7).  The City of College Station should increase its budget for library materials (comprising recommendation 4).  When redesigning the library, three principles should be considered: long- term operational costs, staff input, and noise reduction (comprising recommendation 12).  The City of College Station should continue with the interlibrary agreement, but renegotiate some clauses (comprising recommendation 13). What We Found Library performance. We found that the majority of patrons are satisfied with the materials, services and programs being offered by the library. Nevertheless, we found several areas in which the library’s effectiveness and efficiency could be improved. Specifically, we found that staff do not take full advantage of the technology available to them, there is an insufficiency in policies, procedures, and performance standards, and there is considerable amounts of down-time during the non-busy season. Library redesign. We found that the library has insufficient space to adequately meet the needs of the community. Nearly all areas of the library need expansion or redesign, but the areas that should be given highest priority are the book drop, the library commons, library furnishings, and a children’s area. Bryan-College Station inter-library agreement. The Bryan-College Station inter-library agreement provides a major benefit for the City of College Station by effectively increasing the Ringer Library’s collection and allowing for reduced expenses through shared costs. However, we found that one area of the inter-library agreement (the Twin City Inter-library loan program) places disproportionate costs on College Station, and a few other areas create unnecessary principal-agent issues. Ringer Library Audit 1 Ringer Library Operations Audit Table of Contents Introduction ................................................................................................................. 2 Ringer Library Background .......................................................................................... 2 The Bryan & College Station Public Library System is an Integrated System ................ 2 City of Bryan Personnel Operate College Station’s Ringer Library ................................ 3 College Station’s Annual Budget for the Ringer Library is over $1 Million ..................... 4 Ringer Expenditures Exceed those of the City of Bryan Libraries ................................. 5 College Station Voters Approved an $8 Million Library Expansion Project ..................... 6 Audit Objectives ........................................................................................................ 7 Scope and Methodology ............................................................................................. 7 Analysis and Recommendations ...................................................................................... 9 Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency Could be Improved .......................................... 9 Some Librarian Duties Could Be Performed More Effectively and Efficiently.................. 9 Some Library Programs Are Effective, but All Lack Efficiency Standards ..................... 18 Circulation Policy and Procedures are Generally Effective ......................................... 23 Ringer Library Management of Operations Could be Improved ................................. 27 The Larry J. Ringer Library is in Need of a Facility Redesign ........................................ 29 The City Should Consider 11 Specific Facility Redesign Recommendations ................. 30 There are Four Library Redesign Ideas that Should Not Be Implemented .................. 35 The City Should Consider Altering Aspects of the Library ILA ....................................... 37 There are Several Advantages to the Library Agreement .......................................... 37 There are Some Disadvantages to the Library Agreement ........................................ 38 Generally, the Library ILA Delineates Expenditures Equitably .................................... 38 Staffing Costs Could Be Reduced Through Efficiency Gains ...................................... 39 There May be Some Principal Agent Issues with the Library Agreement .................... 41 Summary of Audit Recommendations ........................................................................ 43 Appendix A: Management Responses to the Audit Recommendations .......................... 45 Appendix B: Ringer Library Survey Methodology & Results ......................................... 49 2 Ringer Library Audit Introduction The Office of the City Internal Auditor conducted this performance audit of the Ringer Library pursuant to: 1. Article III Section 30 of the College Station City Charter, which outlines the City Internal Auditor’s primary duties; and 2. Section 9.04 of the inter-local funding agreement between the City of College Station and the City of Bryan that allows the City of College Station to conduct an annual review of the Larry J. Ringer Library in coordination with the Library System Director. A performance audit is an objective, systematic examination of evidence to assess independently the performance of an organization, program, activity, or function. The purpose of a performance audit is to provide information to improve public accountability and facilitate decision-making. Performance audits encompass a wide variety of objectives, including those related to assessing program effectiveness and results; economy and efficiency; internal control; compliance with legal or other requirements; and objectives related to providing prospective analyses, guidance, or summary information. A performance audit of the Ringer Library was included in the fiscal year 2014 audit plan based on direction given by the Audit Committee. Ringer Library Background Since 1986 the City of College Station and the City of Bryan have had a formal agreement for the joint operation of library services. Although College Station opened a branch library at a storefront location in 1987, it wasn’t until 1998 that College Station opened its public library at its current location across from A&M Consolidated High School. In 2004, College Station’s public library was renamed the Larry J. Ringer Library. Currently, College Station owns its own complement of library books and materials, as well as the facility, which houses those collections. The Bryan & College Station Public Library System is an Integrated System In addition to the Ringer Library, the Bryan & College Station (BCS) Public Library System consists of two libraries located in Bryan; the Clara B. Mounce Public Library and the Carnegie History Center, both located in downtown Bryan. Mounce houses the largest collection of materials in the system. The Carnegie Center houses many local history collections that cover not only the local area, but also adjoining counties. In Ringer Library Audit 3 addition to its collection of historical materials, the second floor of the Carnegie Center is dedicated to genealogical research. Even though each city owns its own collection of materials, they share their inventories. Also, the system’s electronic catalog database of materials (i.e. Polaris) is integrated. Therefore, a book from one location can be returned at the other library. And if an item is not available at one location but is available at the other, the patron can put in a request to have the item delivered to the location they desire for pickup. Operating as an integrated library system allows for items to be added to one or the other’s inventory without duplication, giving greater buying power for the community as a whole—but only if material purchases are coordinated amongst the libraries and made based on system wide community need. City of Bryan Personnel Operate College Station’s Ringer Library The Ringer Library is staffed by City of Bryan personnel with all hiring and human resource activities handled through their organizational structure. The City of College Station reimburses the cost of Bryan staff members who work at the Ringer Library and a portion of administrative overhead costs (e.g., system director, administrative assistant, etc.). The City of College Station covers all of the facility operations and maintenance costs. The organizational chart for the Bryan & College Station Public Library System can be seen in Figure 1 below. Figure 1: Bryan & College Station Public Library System Organization Chart System Director Mounce Circ Supervisor Carnegie Manager Ringer Branch Mgr Circ Clerk FT (3) Circ Clerk PT (6) Automation Supervisor Admin. Assistant Accounting Assistant Reference Librarian (2) Youth Librarian (2) Cataloging Librarian Cataloging Clerk Carnegie Librarian Carnegie Clerk (2)Reference Librarian (3) Youth Librarian (2) Circulation Supervisor Cataloging Librarian Circ. Clerk PT (4) Circ. Clerk FT (6) Cataloging Clerk Janitor 4 Ringer Library Audit From fiscal year 2007 through 2012 the budgeted personnel for the library system remained constant, with a total of 35 full-time equivalent (FTE) budgeted positions. During this period, the Ringer Library employed 16 FTEs. In fiscal year 2013, two additional library clerk positions were budgeted at Ringer while three library clerk positions were budgeted to Mounce. Mounce also reduced one reference librarian. The current breakdown of library system positions can be seen in Table 1 below. Table 1: BCS Library System FY 2014 Budgeted Personnel Staff Admin Ringer Mounce Carnegie Total Fulltime 4 16 10 4 35 Part time 0 4 6 0 9 FTE 4 18 13 4 39 College Station’s Annual Budget for the Ringer Library is over $1 Million According to the Ringer Library contract, College Station is required to make payments on the first of each month based on a formula which calculates the cost of operations for the fiscal year, as well as a method to ―true up‖ any repayments at year end. Table 2 provides a breakdown of the annual payment to the City of Bryan for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. In addition, this table provides a description of the other Ringer library expenses incurred by College Station resulting in the total Ringer library operating budget for College Station in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Table 2: College Station’s Ringer Library Budget for FY 2013 & 2014 Expense (credit) FY13 Budget FY14 Budget Personnel Costs 858,675 886,220 Operating Costs 43,656 44,680 Indirect Expenses1 102,894 104,620 Less (Revenues) (24,437) (27,114) Less (Budget Variance)2 (72,948) (20,245) Less (50% ILL vehicle expense) (2,020) (2,222) Payment to the City of Bryan: 905,820 985,939 Utilities 52,961 51,944 Other Operating Cost 7,311 7,216 Computer Software 7,025 0 Material Purchases 40,000 40,000 College Station Expenses 107,297 99,160 College Station Budget: 1,013,117 1,085,099 1 These indirect expenses include a portion of the City of Bryan’s administrative overhead costs. 2 Fiscal year 2013 actual Ringer library expenditures were $20,245 less than what was budgeted. Therefore, the difference was credited to College Station in fiscal year 2014. Ringer Library Audit 5 Ringer Expenditures Exceed those of the City of Bryan Libraries The Ringer Library’s budgeted expenditures make up approximately 46 percent of those of the Bryan & College Station Public Library System. Contained in College Station’s Ringer library costs are the indirect expenses associated with Bryan’s administrative overhead. When these costs are allocated according to the library contractual agreement, the cost to operate the Ringer Library is greater than the Clara B. Mounce public library in Bryan. Table 3 below provides a comparison of the budgeted expenditures of the three libraries in the Bryan & College Station Public Library System. Table 3: BCS System Library Budgets for Fiscal Years 2013 & 2014 Expenditures FY13 Budget FY13 % FY14 Budget FY14 % Mounce3 1,064,933 43.7% 1,080,567 43.6% Ringer 1,112,522 45.6% 1,134,680 45.8% Carnegie 260,522 10.7% 261,825 10.6% System Total: 2,438,007 2,477,072 When examining total system expenditures, approximately 83 percent of costs are personnel related; whereas, around 7 percent are capital (mostly consisting of material purchases such as books, audio books, DVDs, etc.). Table 4 below provides a breakdown of the BCS Library System and Ringer library expenditures. Indirect expenditures are primarily related to administrative personnel costs. Therefore, in fiscal year 2014, 87 percent of the Ringer Library budget is tied to personnel expenditures, whereas, 4 percent of expenditures were budgeted for the purchase of library materials. Table 4: Comparison of Ringer to BCS Library System Expenditures Expenditures FY13 Budget FY13 % FY14 Budget FY14 % Personnel 2,022,236 82.9% 2,071,136 83.6% Operations 236,396 9.7% 240,436 9.7% Capital 179,375 7.4% 165,500 6.7% System Total: 2,438,007 2,477,072 Personnel 858,675 75.8% 886,220 77.4% Operations4 103,928 9.2% 103,840 9.1% Capital5 67,025 5.9% 49,623 4.3% Indirect Exp. 102,894 9.1% 104,620 9.1% Ringer Total: 1,132,522 1,144,303 3 We backed out the indirect expenses that are charged to College Station for a more accurate cost comparison. 4 This includes utilities and other operating costs not included in the payment made to Bryan (e.g. $59,160 in FY14). 5 These include both purchases made from City of College Station funds as well as those made from donated funds. 6 Ringer Library Audit Figure 2 below provides a graphical representation of the BCS Library System’s fiscal year 2014 budgeted expenditures presented in Tables 2 and 3 on the previous page. Figure 2: BCS Library System Fiscal Year 2014 Budgeted Expenditures College Station Voters Approved an $8 Million Library Expansion Project In November of 2008, College Station voters approved a $76,950,000 government obligation bond (GOB) authorization for streets, traffic, a new fire station, a library expansion project, and various parks and recreation projects. Of this GOB, the library expansion project’s budget is $8,385,000. At the time of the bond, the City of College Station proposed adding 15,265 square ft to the Ringer facility, plus new parking spaces. This would have nearly doubled the size of the Ringer Library, which currently houses a collection of over 90,000 materials in an approximate 16,000 square ft facility. Since 2008, there have been several project delays and different proposals set forth on how to proceed with the library expansion project. Currently, the scope of this project has not been formulated. Therefore, the project is not projected to be completed until sometime in fiscal year 2016. Mounce 43.6% Carnegie 10.6% Personnel 78% Ops, 9% Ind. Exp., 9% Materials, 4% Ringer 45.8% Ringer Library Audit 7 Audit Objectives This report answers the following questions:  Are City of Bryan management and staff efficiently and effectively operating the Ringer Library?  What factors should be taken into consideration when designing a library expansion that will most benefit current and future College Station residents?  Should the City continue to utilize the current Library Inter-local Agreement for the provision of its library services and operations? Scope and Methodology This audit was conducted in accordance with government auditing standards, which are promulgated by the Comptroller General of the United States.6 Audit fieldwork was conducted from November 2013 through March 2014. The scope of review varied depending on the analysis being performed. However, our primary focus was Ringer library operations. The methodology used to complete the audit objectives included:  Reviewing the work of auditors in other jurisdictions and researching professional literature to identify (1) library operational best practices, (2) current challenges facing public libraries, and (3) industry trends.  Reviewing applicable policies and procedures and relevant state and federal laws and regulations.  Observing multiple library board meetings to examine the board’s governance role in decision making, policy formation, and oversight.  Interviewing every Ringer library employee to identify potential improvements to the library’s (1) facility design and (2) operations and services.  Examining the effectiveness of each library program and its alignment to the library’s mission through (1) observing all children, teen and adult programs (2) interviewing librarians that administer these programs, (3) reviewing program attendance data, and (4) comparing these programs with similar programs 6 Government auditing standards require audit organizations to undergo an external peer review every three years. This audit was peer reviewed by the City of Bryan’s internal auditor who holds a CPA, CIA and CISA. 8 Ringer Library Audit currently offered by the City of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department.  Observing every hour of library operations for a 28 day period. During this time, we recorded (1) every patron interaction with a staff member, (2) when visitors entered and exited the facility, and (3) how patrons utilize the facility and library services. When analyzing this data, we used monthly library patronage statistics to control for seasonality.  Observing every process or duty performed by librarians and clerks as well as reviewing documented policies and procedures and operations manuals to identify opportunities to increase efficiency or operational effectiveness.  Conducting data analysis using specialized auditing software. Ringer inventory was compared to overall Bryan & College Station Public Library System inventory and then correlated to circulation data to identify potential deficiencies in the Ringer collection. Circulation data was also analyzed to attempt to determine (1) potential factors driving demand for library services and (2) the effectiveness of purchasing decisions.  Conducting a citizen survey aimed to identify ways to improve the Ringer Library to better serve patrons and increase demand of library services. See Appendix A for the survey results and a more in-depth description of the survey’s methodology.  Identifying Polaris’s (the library catalog information system) functionality and reporting capabilities by reviewing Polaris user manuals, interviewing the system administrator (City of Bryan employee), and contacting representatives that work directly for Polaris.  Examining applicable financial and performance reports and data. Ringer Library Audit 9 Analysis and Recommendations Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency Could be Improved The stated mission of the Bryan & College Station Public Library System is to provide equal opportunity access to information, high quality book and multimedia materials, programs, exhibits and online resources to meet the needs of a diverse community for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and intellectual stimulation by employing a knowledgeable, well trained staff committed to excellent service. Operating the Ringer Library effectively and efficiently constitutes accomplishing the library system’s stated mission at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, we examined the operational functions of the Ringer Library to determine if services are being delivered to patrons in an effective and efficient manner. There are two main functional areas in a public library, circulation and library services. Circulation involves the flow of materials in and out of the library handled by clerks. Librarians are primarily responsible for ensuring the programs, resources, and materials offered by the library meet the needs of the community. Some Librarian Duties Could Be Performed More Effectively and Efficiently There are four essential duties librarians at the Ringer Library perform that meet the BCS Library System’s mission of providing ―equal opportunity access to information, high quality book and multimedia materials, exhibits, and online resources‖. These duties are as follows: serving patrons, cataloging, developing the collection, and weeding. Overall, librarians are effective at performing these essential duties.7 However, there are areas where these duties could be performed more effectively and efficiently. Serving patrons. The Ringer Library has two reference desks, one in the children’s section and one in the center of the library. Each reference desk usually has one to two librarians working at it at any given time. The amount of time a librarian spends helping an individual patron can vary widely—being as short as a few seconds or as long as half an hour. On average, librarians spend about three minutes per patron interaction. Overall, we found that librarians are effectively serving patrons. They do so primarily by assisting patrons in locating and selecting appropriate material from the library collection, and helping patrons take full advantage of the library resources available to 7 It should be noted that in addition to these duties, librarians also are responsible for (1) administering and marketing of library programs, (2) creating online newsletters, and (3)updating the library system’s website. 10 Ringer Library Audit them (e.g. helping with computers/printers, interlibrary loan, etc). We found that librarians spend about 11 percent of their time at the reference desk serving patrons. There are two areas where librarians could improve their efficiency and effectiveness in serving patrons. First, we found that many of the librarians’ interactions with patrons were to extend computer usage after the patron’s time had expired. This is a routine, manual activity and should be automated within the login system as much as possible. This will reduce the amount of time librarians must spend extending a patron’s computer access, thus increasing the library’s efficiency. Second, we found that most librarians rarely seek out patrons to assist, but rather wait until being approached themselves. Nevertheless, we found that the librarians who did seek out patrons to help almost always had their offer accepted. Therefore (within current staffing levels) librarians may be able to improve customer service by more proactively seeking out patrons to help. Recommendation 1. Reference desk transactions—Management should consider modifying the computer use policy to allow computer users to continue using a computer once their allotted time has lapsed if there are not additional patrons waiting to use the computer. This process should be automated as much as possible to allow for ease of use and reduce staff time required to address these routine requests. Cataloging. Cataloging is the process of creating entries for the library system’s catalog (i.e. the Polaris electronic catalog database) and preparing an item for the book shelf. In other words, cataloging is the organizational system for tracking items, and allows patrons to know what materials are available for checkout. All materials available for checkout must be cataloged before they can be made available to patrons. At the Ringer Library, the process of cataloging is performed by the Cataloging Librarian and Cataloging Clerk. The cataloging process begins by downloading and importing recent book order data. This automatically populates many of the entry fields. The Cataloging Librarian then must verify the record information and also enter any information that did not successfully auto populate. Usually the process of entering one item takes only a few minutes. However, some of the less common types of materials, especially foreign language materials, can take much longer. Of course, these time estimates can vary depending on the cataloger. Different catalogers will be more efficient than others. The process concludes with the Cataloging Clerk preparing an item for the book shelf (e.g., labeling the item, inserting the magnetic security strip, etc). Overall, the cataloging process appears to be effective. Data in the catalog is accurate, reliable, and consistent; and finding specific items is not difficult for most patrons. While the library’s cataloging practices are effective, we believe this process could be more efficiently conducted. For example, 4,639 items were added to the collection in 2013. Given that the librarian and clerk each work 40 hours a week, and assuming that Ringer Library Audit 11 they worked 48 weeks that year8; together the two worked approximately 230,400 minutes. Therefore, if they spent 100 percent of their time cataloging, they would have had an average of about 50 minutes to catalog each item. Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect that these two employees would spend 100 percent of their time cataloging. Therefore, Table 5 shows the amount of time available to catalog one item based on a percentage of time spent cataloging in a given year. For example, the table tells us that, if the librarian and clerk spent 80 percent of their time cataloging, they would have had 40 minutes to catalogue each of the 4,639 items added to the collection in 2013. Table 5: Estimated Time Available to Catalog an Item (in minutes) Year 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 2013 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 2012 41 36 32 27 23 18 14 9 5 2011 32 29 25 21 18 14 11 7 4 Avg. 39 35 30 26 22 17 13 9 4 From November 12, 2013 to December 16, 2013, we performed physical observations during all hours of library operations (256 total hours). During this period, we observed the Cataloging Librarian spend approximately 23 percent of her time on non cataloging related duties. We did not observe the Cataloging Clerk perform any duties outside of her cataloging duties. Based on our observations of items being cataloged as well as interviews with library staff, it should take less than 10 minutes for two employees to catalog a typical item. Additionally, the library often receives donations of materials. These donations are either added to the collection or sold in the library’s book sale. The majority of donations are sold because they are not in good enough condition to be added to the collection, or are materials the collection does not need. However, the materials or books that could be added to the collection must be sorted out from those that will be sold, and then cataloged once properly coordinated with reference librarians. During the course of our work, we learned that there were hundreds of donated items in the staff area that could potentially be added to the collection. We were told this backload had built up because the cataloging librarian had not yet found the time to sort through and catalog them.9 This backload of books risks decreasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the library. This is for two primary reasons: (1) items that have not been cataloged cannot be made available to patrons, and (2) the library risks unnecessarily purchasing items that have already been donated. 8 We estimated that holidays, vacations, and sick leave would account for 4 weeks in a year (i.e., 52 – 4 = 48). 9 It should be noted that much of this backload has now been cleared out. This clearing was attributed to the new cataloging librarian, who we were told works very quickly. 12 Ringer Library Audit Given the need for greater efficiency in cataloging, we have two recommendations that should help to reduce the amount of time per item spent in cataloging items: (1) job rotation, and (2) cataloging performance standards. Recommendation 2. Job rotation—Management should consider periodically rotating different members of staff into the position of cataloger. One way the library may be able to improve cataloging efficiency is by introducing job rotation. Studies show that job rotation can increase employee motivation, particularly when it comes to monotonous tasks. Therefore, by periodically rotating different members of staff into the position of cataloger, long-term motivation can be better sustained, which will improve the task’s overall efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, more can get done, more accurately, in less time. It should be noted that this benefit of job rotation has already been seen in part with the hiring of the library’s new cataloging librarian. As was previously noted, when the new cataloging librarian began work, there was an apparent spike in productivity. Additionally, job rotation requires cross-training, which allows for work to continue even if the primary cataloger is away on vacation or sick leave. Finally, job rotation improves oversight for cataloging because the rotating employees oversee each other to help ensure processes remain efficient and effective. The primary disadvantage to job rotation is increased training time since all employees involved in cataloging will need the training. Another potential disadvantage to job rotation is inconsistency in data entry as some staff may enter items differently depending on their understanding. However, this can be mitigated with training and clearly written cataloging policies and procedures. Recommendation 3. Performance standards—Consideration should be given to setting reasonable cataloging performance standards. In addition, documented cataloging policies and procedures may need to be modified to give guidance on cataloging difficult items that are currently taking up a disproportionate amount of the Cataloging Librarian’s time. While most items can usually be cataloged in only a few minutes, some items require significantly more time to catalog to the same level of detail. These more time-intensive items are likely pushing up the average amount of time it takes to catalog an item. We recognize the necessity to insure that catalog records are sufficiently reliable to enable patrons to easily find the materials they need. However, catalogers also need to be held accountable that they are not only completing their duties effectively but are also doing so in the most efficient manner possible. Developing the Collection. Collection development is the planned purchase of materials in various formats to match the public’s learning and leisure needs. This includes the selection of current and retrospective materials, including gifts-in-kind; Ringer Library Audit 13 planning of coherent strategies for continuing acquisitions; and evaluation of collections to ascertain how well they serve user needs. In a citizen survey regarding library services and programs administered in January 2014, respondents said that they were either satisfied or somewhat satisfied with all categories of the library’s materials (see Appendix A). Table 6 below groups the categories of library items according to how citizens rated them in the survey. Table 6: Citizen Satisfaction with Ringer Collection Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Children's books Audio books Fiction books DVD & Blu-rays Large print books E-audiobooks Music CDs E-books Non-fiction books Foreign language Research databases Magazines / Serials Young adult books Nevertheless, there are a few areas for improving both the effectiveness and efficiency of collection development. The Ringer collection needs more materials. Even though patrons are mostly satisfied with the library’s collections, when asked what would increase their usage of the library, the majority response was for more books. Similarly, when asked what is most important: materials, services, or programs; 92 percent of respondents said materials were the most important. Finally, when asked how important specific materials, services and programs were, only four things were considered very important, all four of which were materials. They were: non-fiction books, fiction books, children’s books, and young adult books. In summary, survey respondents overwhelmingly stated that materials (books in particular) are the most important things provided by the library. Despite this, we found that in 2014 the Ringer Library only dedicated about 4 percent ($49,623) of its annual budget to collection development. By contrast, minimum accreditation standards set by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission suggest public libraries expend at least 25 percent of the local expenditures on the purchase of library materials or have at least one item of library material per capita.10 What’s more, we found that purchasing new materials for the collection does make a difference. Since 2009, both circulation and collection development numbers have been 10 The Ringer collection fluctuates depending upon how many items are added to the collection and those that are weeded from it throughout the year. Thus, the collection ranges between 90,000 and 100,000 items. The 2010 census population for College Station is 93,857, but recent estimates put the population at just over 100,000. 14 Ringer Library Audit declining. The one exception is in 2010 when the library decided to significantly increase the number of items added to the collection—and in that same year circulation increased as well (see Table 7 below). Table 7: Last Five Years of Circulation and Items Added to Collection Year: 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Circulation: 422,727 443,924 429,784 398,861 386,031 % Inc / Decr: -4% 5% -3% -7% -3% Items Added: 6,024 7,500 6,467 5,117 4,639 % Inc / Decr -3% 25% -14% -21% -9% Recommendation 4. Materials budget—The City of College Station should increase its budget for library materials. The City of College Station should significantly increase the Ringer Library’s budget for library materials. To fund this increase in material purchases, we suggest using the savings realized through efficiency gains identified in this report. Librarians should use analytics to help in collection development. When Ringer librarians purchase new items for the library, they fall into two basic categories: (1) replacements or (2) new acquisitions. Replacements occur when a book or other item is damaged, goes missing, or is not returned by a patron. According to staff, many damaged books in the Ringer collection are held much longer than they should be. Although the items may be functional, they have a poor appearance and reflect negatively on the perception of the library. Often these items are those that have the highest circulation. The primary factor that goes into deciding whether or not to replace an item is the item’s circulation. However, there are certain books that the library needs to have regardless of the circulation in the adolescent and children’s section of the library. Some of these decisions are made based on the Children’s Core Collection reference books that inform librarians concerning the essential books that should be carried in a public library’s collection. For new acquisitions, librarians read material contained in weekly magazine publications (e.g. Publishers Weekly) as the primary methodology for making new item acquisitions. Staff also take into consideration (1) what parents in the local area want their kids to read, (2) what teachers are typically assigning kids to read, (3) the summer reading program, (4) what books (or types of books) are generating interest, and (5) making up for any short falls there may be in maintaining a balanced collection. The library also acquires items through ―Automatically Yours.‖ This is an auto-purchase option that is setup with the library’s supplier. With this option, library staff do not need Ringer Library Audit 15 to specifically select these items for purchase. Instead, the supplier reserves copies of the most anticipated titles (e.g. Harry Potter books) and then as soon as the item becomes available it is ordered and sent to the library. Librarians’ current methods for purchasing collection materials appears to be quite effective; however, they do not currently use any form of analytics to aide them in collection development decisions. Using analytics could further increase the librarians’ effectiveness at a minimal cost. The library’s current system (Polaris) comes with dozens of customizable reports. Several of these reports could be used to help librarians decide what items to purchase. For example, librarians could generate a Top Circulating Titles report which will list the items that are being checked out the most. This report could be generated by a librarian in under a minute, and would show librarians what types of books and other materials are the most popular. Polaris also has the capability to allow librarians to create their own reports to suit their specific needs. An ambitious librarian could use this capability to maximize effectiveness and long-term efficiency. For example, one collection development decision that can be quite difficult is determining how many copies of an item the library should have. In order to meet patron demand, the library often must purchase multiple copies of their more popular items. However, if the library buys too many duplicate copies, that means there will be spare copies sitting on the book shelves when that money could have gone to purchasing other materials. A custom report could be designed that will show which titles have too many copies, and which have too few. In our own analysis of duplicate copies, we found that in many cases circulation levels do not justify having so many copies. Specifically, we found thousands of duplicate items that the library system did not need (that is, the library could have had roughly the same number of check-outs within the year even without those books). We, of course, understand that there are occasions that may justify having multiple copies of an item even when overall circulation is low—for example to meet the needs of a book club or summer reading program—but given the extremely large number of spare items found throughout the system, we do not believe most of them can be justified. Librarians should better coordinate collection development. One major advantage of the BCS inter-library agreement is that the libraries share their collections. The value of this agreement is increased when the two libraries coordinate so that there is little unnecessary overlap in materials. For example, the library system’s science fiction 16 Ringer Library Audit collection is found at the Mounce Library. The Ringer Library has very few science fiction books. This coordination creates value because it reduces the likelihood that both libraries will have a copy of the same book when they only need one copy between the two of them. As has already been indicated by the thousands of unnecessary duplicate items mentioned earlier, there are numerous instances where each library has its own copy of a book when they really only need one between the two of them. For example, Ringer and Mounce each have one copy of the book The Quillan Games by DJ MacHale. However, together they were only checked out 2 times last year; 9 times over their entire lifetimes (both obtained in 2011); and they both have 0 in-house use. Therefore, we really only needed 1 copy between the two libraries. Greater coordination between the libraries during collection development could reduce this occurrence. Recommendation 5. Collection development policy—Management should revise its collection development policy. The policy should establish priorities, support efforts, and help facilitate decisions that will result in better coordination amongst librarians when making system-wide purchasing decisions. Weeding. Weeding is the removal of materials from a library collection in a systematic and deliberate way. It is an ongoing part of collection development; a planned action to attempt to ensure that library materials are current and enticing. The three primary goals of weeding are to: (1) make room for new books, (2) remove outdated books, and (3) remove unwanted books. Best practices, as found in Continuous Review Evaluation & Weeding (CREW): A Weeding Manual for Public Libraries11, recommend that librarians perform the following steps when weeding a public library’s collection: 1. Utilize some form of analytics to identify items that are low in circulation (within a specified period), non-current, or may be in need of replacement. Print a report of these items to investigate for weeding. 2. Pull the items on the list for review. If an item on the list cannot be found, this should be noted so that the item can be added to a lost or missing list. 3. Different analytics should be used for non-fiction books and materials that contain time sensitive information. Science, medicine, inventions and other topics that change rapidly should be reviewed and updated every five years because erroneous information about these topics are potentially harmful to a patron who may attempt to follow instructions no longer considered safe. 11 CREW: A Weeding Manual for Public Libraries, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin Texas, 2012 http://www.tslstate.tx.us.lk/pubs/crew Ringer Library Audit 17 4. After gathering the books, the librarian must use his or her expertise to try to determine why the item is not circulating. This could be for one of five reasons: (1) the item is damaged, (2) the item may need to be recataloged to a more appropriate location, (3) there is a lack of interest, (4) the topic is popular, but the specific item is out-of-date or poor in content, or (5) the item is part of a set or series, and other items in the set are missing or damaged. 5. While it is appropriate to use general staff to cull materials for consideration, the final decision of whether to remove an item should rest with the individual in charge of that collection’s development. This is because weeding and collection development go hand-in-hand. Before buying new items the librarian needs to know whether the library already has similar items, or if they recently tossed similar items due to lack of interest. On the other hand, the librarian also would need to know if a weeded item needs to be replaced with a more up-to-date item. The library system does not currently have a written policy for weeding. Nevertheless, the Ringer Library’s current practices are quite similar to the above stated best practices. The main exception is that the library does not use system analytics. Instead, librarians scan every item individually to determine how frequently an item is circulated. Using analytics in the weeding process is more efficient than the library’s current process because librarians would no longer need to check each item individually. Instead, they could quickly obtain a list of all items that may need to be weeded. Therefore, librarians should begin the weeding process by printing a report of items to investigate for weeding. In the Polaris system, the most basic report is the ―uncirculated items report.‖ This report will list all items that have not been circulated within a period of time specified by the user. However, the problem with this report is that it does not include materials patrons use within the library but don’t actually check out (i.e. in- house). Consequently, a customized Polaris report may need to be created. Based on our review of the CREW manual, we would suggest this customized report list items that have 0 circulations and 0 in-house within the librarian’s specified period of time—e.g. within the last 6 months, last year, etc. Each report can be used for about 4 to 6 weeks before needing to print a more up-to-date version. In addition to conducting analytics on circulation, librarians should also use the Polaris system to run reports of outdated material. For example, a report could be run listing all science books over 10 years old, regardless of circulation. An added benefit of using analytics in weeding the library’s collection is discovering lost or missing items. If an item is lost or missing it will not circulate; so it will eventually find its way on a list of low circulating items. Therefore, librarians will eventually identify items that should be on a shelf (according to the Polaris database) but are not. Because 18 Ringer Library Audit librarians presently manually pull an item off a shelf and individually scan it, lost or missing items will not be discovered using the current weeding process. Currently, most lost or missing items are discovered through patron requests (e.g. item, hold, or BCS system inter-library loan requests). One disadvantage to using analytics, rather than scanning every book, is that librarians may not discover damaged books that are still circulating. However, the CREW manual notes that locating damaged books does not necessarily need to be done during weeding. If staff and volunteers are trained to look for shabby and outdated items, these materials can be pulled for review by the appropriate person on a weekly basis. This, for example, can be done during shelving or shelf-reading. Recommendation 6. Analytics—librarians should begin using analytics and other best practices outlined in CREW: A Weeding Manual for Public Libraries when they are weeding library materials. The BCS Library System should develop written weeding policies and procedures that implement best practices. The policy should include a justification, rationale, a plan for evaluation of materials being considered for discard, and a process for disposal. The library system should consider using the CREW manual, or some similar manual, as a guide in developing its policy, or may even want to simply adopt the CREW manual as its policy. Included in these policies and procedures should be guidelines for using analytics when weeding the system’s collection. Some Library Programs Are Effective, but All Lack Efficiency Standards The library system’s mission statement states that the library provides programs for ―lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and intellectual stimulation.‖ The library’s strategic initiatives further state that the library is to provide ―programs that foster the love of reading and knowledge,‖ as well as ―training classes in computer usage.‖ In addition to fulfilling the mission and initiatives, another good measure of whether a program is effective is whether the program is increasing overall library patronage. The library system, as a part of both the cities of Bryan and College Station, must also strive to meet the cities’ goals of providing these services efficiently. Efficiency is important because of the limited set of resources that are available. To achieve this goal, the programs should have measurable efficiency-related goals and objectives. The Ringer Library currently offers a variety of programs. For the purposes of this section, the programs have been grouped into four categories: (1) adult, (2) teen, (3) children, and (4) other. The library does not seem to have any measurable efficiency goals set for any of these programs. Ringer Library Audit 19 In a citizen survey regarding library services and programs administered in January 2014 (see Appendix A); respondents were asked to rank library programs with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important. Table 8 below summarizes these results. As can be seen, those responding to the survey felt that children’s programs were most important for the library to offer. Table 8: Library Program Ranked Importance Program 1 2 3 4 5 Avg. Rank 1 Children 55% 28% 10% 5% 2% 1.71 2 Adult 30% 13% 30% 24% 3% 2.57 3 Teen 4% 37% 34% 21% 3% 2.83 4 Family 10% 19% 235 43% 5% 3.13 5 Foreign Language 1% 3% 35 7% 87% 4.76 Adult Programs. The recurring adult programs at the Ringer Library are adult crafting club, book clubs, and computer classes. Adult book clubs and computer classes appear to be effective in fulfilling the mission for ―lifelong learning‖ and the initiatives that ―foster the love of reading‖ and ―training classes in computer usage.‖ However, it is not clear how the adult crafting club fulfills any of the library’s objectives. Additionally, although the purposes of book clubs and computer classes seem to align with the library’s objectives, we were unable to find any evidence that these programs attract significantly more patrons into the library. During the period reviewed, the book club on December 3, 2013 was the only adult program in which a Ringer librarian led and prepared the program. The librarians spent 3.5 total hours (preparation and actual program time) on the program and only three individuals were in attendance. Using 3.5 hours for three patrons may not be an efficient use of a librarian’s time. In addition, there may be some discrepancies in attendance data. For example, an adult book club was observed on January 7, 2014. Based on observations of the program, there were four patrons and two librarians that attended. The attendance log recorded the attendance as six. Thus, librarians, who are employed by the library, were included in the attendance record. In another observation, the adult crafting program, on January 13, 2014, had four patrons and one librarian that attended; the attendance for the program reflected five attendees. Ringer Library and College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department both offer computer classes for citizens. However, those offered by Ringer are taught by a volunteer and are much more basic than those taught through the Parks and Recreation 20 Ringer Library Audit Department that charges a fee. To avoid overlap of service offerings, we suggest that the Ringer Library not expand computer related programs. Teen Programs. The recurring teen programs at the Ringer Library are anime club, teen book club, and summer programs. Teen book club and anime club could be effective in fulfilling the reading mission and initiatives because these programs relate to ―fostering a love of reading‖. However, even though the purposes of the programs seem to align with the library’s objectives, we were unable to find any evidence that these programs attract significantly more patrons into the library. From November 12, 2013 to December 16, 2013, there were two teen programs and both had zero attendance. A teen book club was observed on February 6, 2014 and the three individuals that participated did not stay long for the meeting. A teen anime club meeting was also observed on February 27, 2014, in which three individuals participated. Participants of these teen programs appeared to be high school or junior high age individuals waiting after school at the library for their parents to pick them up. Although the Ringer Library may be able to grow its teen programs by capitalizing on how some teens use the library as a place to wait after-school until their parents pick them up, significant library staff time and effort may be needed for such an endeavor. In addition, doing so may compete with other programs operated by the City of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department. Currently, the Lincoln Recreation Center and Southwood Community Center provide after-school programs. Unlike library programs, these programs are not offered free of charge. Therefore, there is a potential area for overlap in service offerings between the Parks and Recreation Department and the Ringer Library. Children Programs. The recurring children’s programs at the Ringer Library are storytimes, puppet shows, summer reading programs, craft activities and holiday parties. Storytimes, puppet shows and summer reading programs are effective in fulfilling the reading mission and initiatives of the library system. However, there is not as clear a relationship among holiday parties and craft activities with the mission or strategic initiatives of the library. From November 12, 2013 to December 16, 2013, children’s programs averaged 21.95 people per program. Librarians spent an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes per Ringer Library Audit 21 program. 12 Although librarians spend more time preparing for and conducting children’s programs than adult and teen programs, children’s programs have much higher attendance. Additionally, unlike adult and teen programs, most children’s programs appear to attract patrons into the library who would not otherwise be there. We found that parents and their children visited the library and checked out items prior to or after storytimes. We observed similar patron behavior prior to and after a Thanksgiving party that was held by Ringer staff on November 23, 2013. A puppet show was also observed on January 25, 2014. The puppet show attendance reached the maximum allowable occupancy for the large meeting room. Surprisingly, we observed that most participants of the puppet show did not visit the library prior to or after the puppet show. In addition, the amount of time to prepare for the puppet show was significantly higher than other children’s programs. Staff made puppets and costumes for the puppet show. Scripts were written and practiced. Finally, a great amount of setup time, coordination, and preparation was devoted to the show. Based on the results of a citizen survey regarding library services and programs administered in January 2014 (see Appendix A), respondents found summer reading programs and children’s storytime to be the most important programs offered by the Ringer Library. Table 9 below summarizes these results. Table 9: Survey Results of Importance and Satisfaction of Library Programs Library Program Important Not Important Satisfied Not Satisfied Don’t Use Summer reading program 83% 17% 49% 5% 46% Children’s storytime 83% 17% 48% 4% 49% Science programs 79% 21% 31% 1% 67% Author visits 75% 25% 29% 1% 70% Writing workshops 72% 28% 23% 2% 75% Shows (puppets, music, etc.) 72% 28% 36% 3% 61% Computer classes 71% 29% 25% 2% 73% Book clubs 70% 30% 27% 1% 72% Craft/art making 61% 39% 29% 2% 68% Movie showings 58% 42% 26% 2% 71% Holiday/themed parties 51% 49% 24% 1% 74% Other Programs. The other recurring programs offered at the Ringer Library are author visits and free movies. 12 No puppet shows were held in November and December. Therefore, the calculation for average attendance and librarian time does not factor in puppet shows. 22 Ringer Library Audit In addition to adult, teen, and children’s programs, the library had film screenings and author visits. Film screenings could fulfill the mission and initiatives if a movie based on a book or a historical movie was shown; which could possibly generate more interest in related literature. Author visits could also fulfill the mission and initiatives by making patrons more aware of the author’s literature. Any other types of programs would have to be examined on a case-by-case basis to determine if the purpose is fulfilling library objectives. There were nine attendees for a family film showing we observed on January 11, 2014. The movie shown was based on a popular children’s book. The library is limited to only showing Fox films because of its license agreement. In addition, the library is not allowed to advertise the title of the film to be shown. Thus, these factors may limit the number of patrons interested in watching the film at the library. The pros and cons of maintaining the license with Fox should be evaluated and a decision should be made for the future of screening films at the library. We also observed an author visit on January 25, 2014. Based on our observations, there was not much interest by patrons in the author visit. Although we were unable to find any evidence that either of these programs attract significantly more patrons into the library, we recognize that each program could possibly alter patronage differently on a case-by-case basis. There appears to be minimal library resources needed to host author visits or show family films. Thus, film screenings, author visits, and any other miscellaneous events should weigh the cost of operating the event versus the benefit the event provides to the library and its patrons. Recommendation 7. Programs—Management should evaluate programs based on effectiveness (i.e. meets the mission, goals or objectives of the organization) and efficiency (e.g. the ratio of staff time to program participation). We found storytime to be the most effective and efficient program currently offered by the Ringer Library. Other summer programs aimed at children and families may also be effective and efficient, but we were unable to observe how these programs are administered due to the scope and timing of the audit. Overall, other library programming was either ineffective or inefficient. We recommend the library only operate programs that are both effective and efficient in fulfilling the mission, goals, or objectives of the library. This can be done by first determining which programs could be effective, then setting measurable efficiency standards for those programs. For example, the goal could be to have at least ten patrons at each program; or a ratio of at least 4 patrons per librarian hour spent on each program.13 13 The numbers are just examples and not specific recommendations. The library should decide for itself what amount constitutes efficient. Ringer Library Audit 23 Circulation Policy and Procedures are Generally Effective Circulation involves the flow of materials in and out of the library handled by clerks. Library clerks have about a dozen different duties. Overall, it appears that clerks are performing their duties efficiently and effectively. However, we did find areas for improvement at the check-out desk. In addition, the Ringer Library has an excellent policies and procedures manual for circulation operations. It outlines the duties and responsibilities of clerks, as well as outlining the most effective and efficient ways of performing these functions. This policies and procedures manual is probably a major contributing factor to the library clerks’ ability to maintain high working standards despite the high turnover of employment. Check-out desk. The check-out desk is the primary location where clerks interact with patrons. While working at the check-out desk the clerk is responsible for checking-out items to patrons and helping patrons register new library cards. They also are generally responsible for filing the DVDs and Blu-rays, which are locked in the cabinet behind the check-out desk. Occasionally clerks will also perform refunds, but this only occurs if the patron has paid for a lost item, kept the receipt, and then found the item and brought it back within a year of paying for it. Clerks spend a significant amount of their time working at the library’s check-out desk. There is always at least one clerk working the desk, and often there are two. Occasionally when the desk is particularly busy, a third clerk will notice that it is busy and briefly break away from his or her other duties to help with check-outs. We found that library staff are generally very good about noticing when a line is building up at the check-out desk and then moving over to the desk for a few minutes to help check patrons out. In order to effectively serve patrons, there is a need for at least one clerk to be working the desk during all hours of operation; this way there is always a clerk available should a patron need assistance. However, this also means there is a significant amount of down time at the desk. During our observation period (November 12, 2013 to December 16, 2013), we found that if the check-out desk had been served by only one clerk during all hours of operation, that clerk would have spent 46 percent of his or her time serving patrons. Our observation time was, however, during the less-busy time of the year for the library. To account for seasonality, we used these observations combined with recorded monthly library patronage statistics for 2013. Based on our analysis, we determined that in 2013 a single clerk at the check-out desk would have spent about 53 percent of his or her time serving patrons; with a low in December of 43 percent and a high in June and July of 67 percent. However, it should be remembered that there are 24 Ringer Library Audit often two clerks working at the check-out desk simultaneously. This means that the amount of time each clerk actually spends serving patrons is lower. When clerks are not serving patrons they try to keep themselves busy (e.g. filing DVDs, checking in items, etc.). However, there is only so much they can do without straying too far from the desk. Therefore, we found that much of their time at the check-out desk is spent simply waiting to serve patrons. Recommendation 8: Circulation front desk—Management should consider reducing the number of clerks assigned to work the circulation desk. We recommend that only one clerk be assigned to work at the check-out desk at a time. This will free up the second clerk to be productive in other areas while also minimizing down time. Additionally, because clerks do well at noticing when the check-out desk is getting busy, reducing the number of clerks at the desk should have a minimal effect on the library’s overall effectiveness. Finally, repairing or replacing the self check-out machine (discussed later in the report) will further minimize any negative service level affects of reducing the check-out desk to only one clerk. Seasonal staffing. Many organizations employ a seasonal staffing model when there are significant changes in business throughout the year. For example, the retail industry hires additional staff in the winter time due to the increase in sales for Christmas. Seasonal staffing models have both advantages and disadvantages. There are four primary advantages to a seasonal staffing model. (1) Seasonal employees add flexibility because the organization can adjust staffing throughout the year, helping to ensure that the organization has adequate staff during busy times and is not overstaffed during the off season. (2) The organization can save money because it is not responsible for the wages of the seasonal employees during the off season, seasonal employees’ starting wages are typically lower than the wages of full-time employees, and the organization may not have to provide certain employee benefits that are provided to full-time employees. (3) Seasonal employees offer the opportunity for the organization to evaluate potential employees for full-time hire before hiring them full-time. (4) Seasonal employees offer the opportunity to hire employees with unique or specialized skills for one-time projects that the organization hopes to complete. There are three primary disadvantages to a seasonal staffing model. (1) Training new employees results in lost time. If new employees are hired for each season, then the potential time lost is compounded. In addition, if the library demand is high, there might not be enough time to properly train the new employees because the new employees might have to start working immediately. (2) If the employee is not properly trained, then the quality of work performed or service given could decline. The seasonal employees may not provide the same level of quality as veteran full-time employees. Ringer Library Audit 25 This could lead to customer dissatisfaction. (3) The seasonal employees might not be as motivated to work as diligently as the full-time employees. The lack of motivation could result in a decline in quality. We found that patronage at the Ringer Library is seasonal, with summer being the busiest time of the year and winter the least busy. Table 10 shows the average number of visitors to the library in each season14 over the last three years. Table 10: Patrons Visiting the Ringer Library (2011 to 2013) Season 2011 2012 2013 Avg. Visitors % Summer 64,637 62,911 60,171 62,573 100% Fall 52,999 49,050 48,666 50,238 80% Winter 48,186 46,269 44,858 46,438 74% Spring 51,197 54,550 48,156 51,301 82% It should be further noted that the trends in other library statistics, such as the number of patrons registered, or the number of books circulated, followed a similar pattern as the number of library visitors. Even though library patronage is seasonal, we found library staffing remained relatively constant throughout the year. Furthermore, we were informed that the library is staffed for the busiest time of the year. Recommendation 9. Seasonal staffing—The Ringer Library should initiate a seasonal staffing model for its clerks. This will increase the library’s efficiency and help ensure the library is properly staffed throughout the year. In order to help mitigate the risk of lost quality that sometimes accompanies seasonal staff, the library should also reorganize the hierarchy for clerks. Currently, the library employs one supervising clerk (who is essentially the assistant branch manager), and the rest of the clerks are on the same level with each other. We recommend adding one additional level, that of senior clerk. The library should promote to this position two clerks who have a proven track record of success. During all hours of operation, at least one of these two clerks would need to be scheduled to work, and while they would still have the same duties as regular clerks, they would have the additional responsibility of acting as leaders and mentors to the other clerks—particularly seasonal clerks—to help maintain quality, motivation, and consistency. Of course, wages for these senior clerks would need to be raised accordingly. 14 Seasons are: Summer – Jun, Jul, Aug; Fall – Sep, Oct, Nov; Winter – Dec, Jan, Feb; Spring – Mar, Apr, May. 26 Ringer Library Audit Finally, if the library implements a seasonal staffing model, we do not recommend a round of layoffs. The library already has a high employee turnover rate.15 Therefore, the library can take advantage of this and gradually transition to seasonal employment as year-round employees leave. This process will avoid the damage to morale that generally accompanies layoffs. Additionally, assuming that the majority of library redesign is imminent, the library may find it useful to make the transition to seasonal employment a slow process. This is because of what might be referred to as a ―new building effect;‖ that is, with the excitement of a new or renovated public building, there is generally an uptick in visitors for a few years, which gradually winds down as the novelty wears off. Self check-out. A self check-out machine can be a major asset to libraries. Self check- out machines are, long-term, generally less expensive than employing a clerk for the equivalent service,16 require minimal space, increase patron confidentiality, and can offer foreign language support. In addition, having children go through the process of checking items out themselves can keep them engaged and possibly more likely to return to the library. However, there are some drawbacks of relying on a self checkout machine, such as difficulties for customers who are not tech savvy, increased potential for theft, lack of personal interaction, and need for maintenance and upgrades. Nevertheless, it is our opinion that the benefits of self check-out machines outweigh the costs. The Ringer Library currently owns a self check-out machine; however, the machine does not function properly or reliably. We observed numerous patrons attempt to use the self check-out, give up, and then ask the clerk to check out their items for them. Because the self check-out machine is unreliable, very few patrons use it. By contrast, libraries with effective self checkout machines can see as many as 90 percent of their checkouts moving to self checkout. However, it should be noted that under the library’s current DVD checkout procedures, DVDs could not be checked out using self-check. This is because under current procedures, DVDs are locked in a cabinet behind the check-out desk in order to prevent theft. 15 Total average annual turnover at the Ringer library over the past three years is approximately 28 percent. Average annual turnover for local governments hovers around 10 percent and is approximately 30 percent for service industries with a high percentage of seasonal or part-time workers. 16 It should be remembered that the cost of a self check-out machine includes the original purchase price and annual maintenance. It should also be remembered the self check-outs ―work‖ during all hours of operation (about 64 hours a week), do not take vacation, and do not take sick days. Therefore, so long as the average annual cost of a self check-out machine is less than the salary and benefit costs of about 1.5 clerks, the self check-out machine is likely cost efficient. Ringer Library Audit 27 Recommendation 10. Self check-out—The Ringer Library should either repair or replace the current self checkout machine. In order to help patrons become comfortable with self checkout, the library may want to consider instituting a policy that the back-up clerk at the check-out desk offer to help patrons check-out through self check rather than manually checking items out themselves. Finally, the library may want to consider revising the DVD procedures to a method that would allow patrons to self-check DVDs without needing the aid of a clerk. In the alternative, the library could just accept that patrons that want to check out DVDs will not be able to use self-check. It should be noted that over 70 percent of circulation at the Ringer Library is the result of patrons checking out books (see Table 11 below). Therefore, self check-out machines could potentially service the majority of circulated items under current library policies and procedures. Table 11: Ringer Circulation by Item Category (2011 – 2013) Category 2011 2012 2013 3-Yr Avg. % of Avg. Books 307,869 283,307 279,673 290,283 71.7% Books (Audio Media) 13,852 14,631 14,965 14,483 3.6% DVD's & Videos 48,941 50,241 46,578 48,587 12.0% Inter-Library Loan 11,293 11,038 10,052 10,794 2.7% Computers/Online Services 40,383 33,459 31,121 34,988 8.6% Periodicals/Reference 7,446 6,185 3,642 5,758 1.4% Total 429,784 398,861 386,031 404,892 100% Ringer Library Management of Operations Could be Improved The Ringer Library has two manager positions: the Branch Manager and the Circulation Supervisor. The Branch Manager has ultimate responsibility for the branch, and tends to focus on managing the activities, operations and personnel. The Circulation Supervisor is primarily responsible for overseeing the clerks and their related duties. Based on our observations, interviews with staff, and review of policies and procedures, the circulation operations were effectively managed. However, areas of improvement in other managerial functions were identified. The Branch Manager was not carrying out cost-effective duties. The theory of comparative advantage states that the employee who can produce a good or service at the lowest marginal and opportunity cost should be the one producing the good or service. In other words, highly compensated employees generally should not be doing work that could be done by the lower compensated employees. This is even true when the highly compensated employee could do it faster; and often true even when the 28 Ringer Library Audit highly compensated employee could do it better. Sometimes it may be appropriate for highly paid employees to help the lower paid employees with their work. This could be done in order to help keep up morale, or in situations where time is of the essence. However, a manager should not do such things at the cost of neglecting his or her own duties. We found that the Ringer Library Branch Manager, the highest paid employee at the library, regularly conducted activities that were not cost-effective given her income. Additionally these activities were not part of her job description. For example, on multiple occasions we observed her creating advertisements, decorations, crafts or costumes for the library. All of these projects could have been completed more efficiently by having clerks or librarians fulfill these tasks. Given the time and materials that went into these projects, buying the decorations and costumes at the store may have been a lower cost alternative as well. Furthermore, it appears that carrying out these activities may have led to the neglect of some managerial duties. Management communication needs improvement. Interviews with staff indicated that they were most satisfied with managers who had a managerial focus on good communication. However, we found that many staff members were not satisfied with the communication occurring at the Ringer Library—both outside the library system, and within. During our daily Ringer library operations observation period of November 12, 2013 to December 16, 2013, we observed that there were very few interactions between the Branch Manager and staff. Instead of being actively involved in the day to day operations of library staff, we observed that the majority of the time the Branch Manager was in her office. However, it should be noted that both the Branch Manager and Circulation Supervisor recently ended their employment at the Ringer Library. Recommendation 11. Management— Ringer library management should focus their efforts on functions that are within their stated job description. Ringer Library Audit 29 The Larry J. Ringer Library is in Need of a Facility Redesign Throughout the course of this audit numerous possibilities for the library redesign have been suggested. This section of the report will address the most prominent of the redesign possibilities, and whether the possibility would be a good use of resources. Recommendation 12. Library Redesign—No matter what direction the city chooses to take for the library redesign, there are three general principles that should be followed: (1) consider long-term operational costs, (2) receive staff input, and (3) remember noise reduction. Long-term operational costs. Every redesign decision should take into account long- term operational costs. This is especially true when a redesign decision will increase staffing requirements, since staffing is the library’s primary expense. For example, adding a second floor to the Ringer Library, rather than expanding the first floor, could unnecessarily increase long-term operational costs. This is because libraries often need staff supervision on every floor; so a second floor may require additional staff; while expanding the first floor by the same square footage will not necessarily require additional staffing. Staff input. Library staff should be consulted on the specifics of proposed library redesign elements because the staff have day-to-day knowledge on what details will be beneficial or detrimental. For example, the design of the current book drops is inadequate. This leads to unnecessarily damaged books. If the city decides to redesign the book drop, library clerks should be consulted since they have the best knowledge of what issues lead to damaged books. Noise reduction. Many patrons and staff consider the Ringer Library to be much louder than most libraries. While the source of this noise is primarily children, certain design features can intensify the problem. Structurally, two factors can make rooms noisier: hard surfaces and high ceilings. A few obvious redesign choices include keeping newly added ceilings relatively low, and installing carpet and acoustic tile ceilings. Additionally, covering hard surface walls, such as drywall, with paintings or cloth artwork can 30 Ringer Library Audit help reduce noise. One major trade-off the library will need to consider is having large windows. The large windows add a level of warmth and brightness to the library that can be inviting, but the windows’ hard glass contribute to the noise factor. Additionally, the direct sunlight exposure causes books and materials to fade more quickly. The City Should Consider 11 Specific Facility Redesign Recommendations We have developed eleven specific recommendations for the library redesign. However, given the library’s limited resources, it is unlikely that all of these recommendations can be implemented. Therefore, we have listed the recommendations in priority order, with the recommendations that we believe should be given highest priority at the top. Book drop. The Ringer Library currently operates two book drops: a drive-through drop and a lobby book drop. The drive-through drop has two major issues. First, it is not properly covered or sealed; as a result, books are regularly water damaged when it rains. Second, the drop area’s design and size is inadequate. As a result, when the drop is full, patrons will try to force books into the book drop, which can damage the books. In order to improve the longevity of books, we recommend improving the book drop. This will have long-term cost and quality benefits for the library. Commons expansion. The library common area is often congested due to lack of space. In addition, patrons have requested additional seating areas. The library would probably benefit from increasing the size of the common area. This would lower congestion and allow for accommodating more patrons. Besides increasing the size of the common area generally, the library may want to consider creating these specific areas within the common area: (1) a children’s area, (2) a teen’s area, and (3) a quiet area. Each of these possible expansions are explained in greater detail later in the report. However, it should be remembered that patrons are not necessarily requesting a bigger library—they are requesting a library with more space. This distinction makes a difference when considering e-materials, e-books, e-audio books, e-magazines, and online materials do not take up any library space. Therefore, if in the future the library decides to increase its focus on e-materials, hardcopies can gradually be weeded, Ringer Library Audit 31 creating space within the library without having to add any square footage to the building. Therefore, the library should develop a long-term strategic plan for e-materials prior to making library expansion decisions. Children’s area. Due to lack of overall space, the children’s area is primarily filled with shelving, plus a few cramped tables and chairs. Patrons and staff have expressed interest in expanding the children’s area so that it can also contain a reading and play area for children and parents. If the city decides to expand the children’s area as part of the library redesign, the city should consider a design that minimizes noise, such as adding noise reduction furnishings and wall coverings. Finally, safety and security should be a priority when designing this area. Therefore, line of site for parents and library staff should be considered. Expanding the children’s area should be a top priority because there is demand for it among patrons, it is one of the library staff’s most recommended changes, it could help reduce overall noise, and it will directly serve a large proportion of the library’s patrons. Furnishings. The Ringer Library’s current furnishings consist of a mixture of group and individual study areas. From both personal and library staff observation we found that these study areas are primarily used by individuals, occasionally used by groups of two, and only rarely used by groups of three or more. These larger study groups instead tend to opt for using the library’s meeting rooms. However, the library’s current set of furnishings are not aligned with usage. Seventy-five percent of the library’s tables seat four people, while 25 percent seat two people. This misalignment can create inefficiencies because many library patrons will not join a table already in use by a stranger, no matter its size. This leads to one person effectively using up four spaces. By better aligning the study area furnishings we can reduce this problem so that one person will only take up one or two spaces. 32 Ringer Library Audit Additionally, we found that many library patrons bring their own electronic devices, such as laptops or iPads, to study or work in the library. We expect this trend to continue to increase in the future; therefore the library redesign should accommodate this growing demand. For example, all or nearly all study areas should have conveniently located electrical outlets. Meeting rooms. Based on personal and library staff observation, we found that the meeting rooms are not usually in high demand. For most of the day at least one of the meeting rooms is open. The two primary exceptions are: during tax preparation months (January to April) the rooms are always reserved by tax prep volunteers, and weekdays from 4 to 6pm the rooms are usually in use by after-school tutors. Because both meeting rooms are sometimes booked at the same time, the library could benefit from additional meeting rooms. The need for meeting rooms does not appear to be as great as the other needs previously listed, and so should be given a lower priority. The exception is the large meeting room located at the front of the library. This room is used for storytimes and other library programs as well as meetings for various community groups. The room is not very well designed for many of the programs held in the space. For example, the floor is tiled, the lighting is poor, and the furniture and décor of the room are very drab. Combined, these factors make the atmosphere uninviting for children and families who might otherwise want to attend storytimes. We also observed at least one occasion when the room’s capacity was met; therefore, library staff had to turn potential patrons away. Staff area. Studies show that when employees are comfortable and happy they are more productive. The back staff area, where library employees spend much of their time, is cramped and noisy. Therefore, the library could improve productivity, retention, and overall employee well-being by renovating the back staff area. At a basic level, the library could install carpet to reduce the noise and increase comfort. At a more ambitious level the Ringer Library Audit 33 size of the back area could be expanded, particularly in the narrow entry hall of the back area, where it currently is not even wide enough for two carts to be pushed past each other. Increased parking. The Ringer Library has 66 parking spaces in the front lot and 12 parking spaces in the back lot. The back lot is almost never used because of its inconvenient location. (In order to use it patrons would have to park behind the library then walk around to the front to enter the facility.) We found in most cases there are enough spaces for everyone to park in the front lot. However, occasionally when there is a large event, such as a puppet show or science presentation, the front lot fills and patrons must park at the First Baptist Church across the street. Because the parking lot is occasionally over-filled, we recommend the library follow one of three courses of action: 1. Construct new parking spaces in the front lot: The benefit of adding more spaces to the front lot is that patrons would not have to park across the street when the front lot is full. However, the disadvantage to adding more spaces to the front lot is it reduces the amount of space available for the building expansion; and lack of building space is a daily problem whereas lack of parking space is relatively uncommon. 2. Establish employee parking: The library could free up space in the front lot by using the back lot as an employee lot. This would require a relatively minor adjustment to the library’s back door so that it could be used as an employee entrance. Additionally, for safety reasons, it would likely require the addition of 1-3 lamp posts (there is currently only one at the back parking lot). The benefit of using the back parking lot is that it is cheaper than building additional spaces, and would not take up potential building expansion space. The primary disadvantage to establishing the back parking lot as an employee lot is that it would, at the most, free up only 12 parking spots in the front. 3. Accept current parking situation: The library could accept the existing parking situation as is. The obvious advantage of this choice is that the library would not incur any additional costs. Resources could then be focused on areas that patrons have deemed a higher priority, such as books and building space. The disadvantage 34 Ringer Library Audit is that the library could lose patronage during the library’s busy times since some patrons will not be able to find parking and may be unwilling to park across the street. Teen’s area. For the most part, the extent of the teen area is the location where the teen books are shelved—it does not have its own well-defined area. Currently, the primary obstacle preventing a dedicated teen area is a lack of space. There is enough space for the teen books, but not much else. If the city chooses to include a teen area in the library redesign, this teen area should have space for additional books and materials, as well as open space with furniture for teens to come and hang out. However, the teen area is a low priority. Only one survey respondent expressed interest in a teen area, and this respondent was not a teen herself. Therefore, there is the risk that after the teen area is built, it will be under used. On the other hand, given the library’s close proximity to Consolidated High School, it has potential to become heavily used after-school by teens. Quiet space. Because noise is a problem at the Ringer Library, a dedicated quiet space may be beneficial. To help keep noise out, these quiet spaces are usually contained within their own room. Many quiet spaces have multiple study tables and reading chairs, and sometimes contain shelving (such as reference works). If the library decides to build a quiet room, the library should consider glass walls. While glass walls are not the best material for minimizing noise, having transparent walls helps keep staffing requirements low since staff will not have to specifically monitor the quiet room. Outdoor area. Currently, the library is surrounded by grassy areas outside the building. This unused space could be used for an outdoor area, such as a reading lounge or a playground. Maintaining an outdoor area could be as simple as placing furniture outdoors or as elaborate as constructing a gated area. Two advantages of outdoor areas are that they can be less expensive than building expansions and, in good weather, may be more desirable to patrons than indoor areas. The disadvantages to outdoor areas are that they can become unusable in poor weather, and can be more difficult to oversee and secure than indoor areas. Additionally, it should be noted that survey respondents did not express any demand for outdoor areas. Ringer Library Audit 35 Bus stop. The nearest public bus stop to the Ringer Library is about 50 yards away. However, there is nothing at the bus stop indicating that it is a bus stop. Therefore, potential patrons may not be aware the stop exists, which may be reducing the patronage at the library. On the other hand, it appears that the majority of library patrons drive to the library, so installing a bus stop sign post may prove to be a cost with little benefit. If the city decides to install a bus stop at the library, there are three primary options: (1) a sign-only bus stop, costing approximately $2,000, (2) an unsheltered bus stop, costing approximately $5,000, or (3) a sheltered bus stop with amenities, costing approximately $25,000. There are Four Library Redesign Ideas that Should Not Be Implemented In addition to the eleven library redesign recommendations, we examined four redesign possibilities that were ultimately deemed a poor use of resources. These four are listed below. Coffee shop/bookstore. Some patrons and employees have suggested that a shop (such as a coffee shop or bookstore) might benefit the library. However, running a secondary operation or business in the library carries significant risk. Most library shops are not profitable. If the library itself runs the shop, this likely means increased costs for the library. If the shop is privatized, and the private business subsequently fails, the library risks having a vacant shop in the library. Considering that lack of space is a primary concern for patrons and library staff; the library, with its limited resources, would probably be able to better serve the public by focusing its funds on other aspects of library redesign and not engage in a risky secondary operation, such as a coffee shop or bookstore. Computer lab. The College Station library does not currently have a computer lab— that is, it does not have a specific room or section of the library dedicated solely to providing computer access. Computer labs are a common feature in many libraries. Nevertheless, the Ringer Library redesign probably should not include plans for a computer lab. This is because over the last three years computer usage in the library has been declining. This is even true when taking into account that overall patronage is also in decline. (I.e. the decline in computer usage is faster than 36 Ringer Library Audit the decline in patronage). Therefore, if the library redesign includes a computer lab, there’s a risk that in a few years that lab will be underutilized. A second College Station library branch. Some individuals have suggested building a second library branch in College Station. Presumably, the greatest benefit of a second branch is to make visiting the library more convenient since it could then be found in multiple locations. However, our analysis of survey respondents found that respondents who live closer to the current library do not use the library more often than those who live farther away. (In fact, survey respondents who live farther from the library, on average, visit the library more often than those who live closer.) Therefore, a second library branch is unlikely to appreciably increase the number or library patrons or the frequency of their visits. Additionally, building a second library branch would be disproportionately more expensive than building the equivalent additional space at the current library since the second branch would require the purchase of new land, and would not be able to take advantage of economies of scale, resulting in greater capital and operational costs. Additional book drops. Library patrons can return their checked-out materials at the libraries in Bryan or College Station. The B-CS library system does not offer stand-alone book drops dispersed throughout the city. While additional book drops would be convenient for some library patrons, overall, it is probably not a good use of resources. This is for two primary reasons: first, similar to the prospect of a second library branch, additional book drops are unlikely to increase library patronage. Second, the stand-alone book drops would carry additional operational costs since staff would need to frequently drive out to these book drops in order to collect the books. Ringer Library Audit 37 The City Should Consider Altering Aspects of the Library ILA Overall, the inter-library agreement appears to be attempting to maximize benefits for both cities, while sharing the costs equitably. Nevertheless, by its very nature, the Inter- local agreement (ILA) carries both advantages and disadvantages. There are Several Advantages to the Library Agreement The City of College Station receives two primary benefits through the inter-library agreement: (1) a supplemented collection, (2) simplified coordination, and (3) reduced personnel concerns. Supplemented collection. A major advantage of the ILA is the fact that it allows the Ringer Library to use the Bryan libraries’ collections. However, at the moment it does not appear that the two cities are taking full advantage of this benefit. As has been previously explained there is a significant amount of unnecessary duplication of materials between the two libraries. Furthermore, it should be noted that only about 3 percent of Ringer’s checkouts were sent to the Mounce Library in 2013. Mounce sends more than double the amount of items to Ringer than Ringer sends to Mounce, but these amounts still represent a relatively small portion of overall circulation (see Table 12 below). Table 12: BCS Library Items Loaned (last 5 years) Library Items 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Ringer to Mounce 10,479 12,531 10,989 10,673 9,724 Mounce to Ringer 22,320 29,160 27,636 25,606 25,296 Total Items Loaned: 32,799 41,691 38,625 36,279 35,020 Ringer to Mounce 32% 30% 28% 29% 28% Mounce to Ringer 68% 70% 72% 71% 72% Ringer Circulation 422,727 443,924 429,784 398,861 386,031 % of Ringer Circ. loaned to Mounce 2% 3% 3% 3% 3% Simplified coordination. Because the College Station and Bryan libraries are under a single Library Director, it is easier for the libraries to coordinate their objectives. Reduced indirect personnel costs. Because the Ringer Library is staffed by Bryan employees, the City of College Station avoids any accompanying indirect personnel costs. For example, in the past the Bryan Human Resources (HR) department had to spend time helping with personnel issues at the Ringer Library. Had College Station 38 Ringer Library Audit employed the Ringer staff, College Station HR staff would have had to divert their resources to working on these problems. However, it should be remembered that College Station is not avoiding any direct personnel costs since College Station reimburses Bryan for the Ringer staff, as well as for a portion of BCS System administrative staff, such as the Library Director. There are Some Disadvantages to the Library Agreement Reduced governmental control. The nature of the ILA requires the City of College Station to give up some control of the services it offers. For example the ILA states that Bryan is responsible for purchasing materials for the Ringer Library. The Library System Director (a Bryan employee) must confer with the College Station City Manager, but the final authority for the selection of library materials rests with the Library System Director. In other words, the City of Bryan decides what library materials the City of College Station will and will not own. In addition, there are currently very few costs that the City of College Station has direct control over when budgeting for library expenditures. The primary expenditure that College Station can control is its library materials budget. It is notable that College Station spends significantly less on library materials than the City of Bryan. Bryan spent $123,860 in fiscal year 2013 for books and other library items for Mounce; whereas, College Station spent $38,321 for Ringer. Bryan spent $2,468 in fiscal year 2013 for books and other library items for the Carnegie Center. Reduced democratic control. Citizens elect city council members, who then set policy and appoint individuals to managerial positions. Management in turn carries out the policy directives set by council members. At the Ringer library these policies, procedures, and strategic initiatives are primarily governed by the City of Bryan because all Ringer library employees are City of Bryan employees. However, most Ringer library patrons are College Station residents. This creates a situation in which most Ringer library patrons are being served by a government over which they have no direct democratic control. Generally, the Library ILA Delineates Expenditures Equitably For the most part, the ILA does a good job of fairly sharing responsibilities and costs between Bryan and College Station; however, one part of the ILA—the Twin Cities Interlibrary Loan program—places inequitable costs on College Station. Book runs. The interlibrary agreement requires that Ringer library staff be in charge of the Twin City Inter-library Loan program, e.g. transferring books between the branches. As such, not only does Ringer staff physically drive the books back and forth, they are Ringer Library Audit 39 responsible for gathering and preparing the books for transfer in both libraries. The agreement states that costs are to be shared equally among the cities, but specifies the cost as including vehicle replacement, maintenance, and fuel. The agreement does not appear to take into account the cost of time Ringer staff must spend performing their duties. Two Ringer library clerks spend between 3 and 4 hours every day of the week, except Sunday, performing book runs. The combined hours spent by these two Ringer clerks performing this function approximates one fulltime position. Staffing Costs Could Be Reduced Through Efficiency Gains In 2013, College Station paid Bryan $905,820 for library services. More than 90 percent of this money goes to paying the Bryan employees who work in the Ringer Library. Bryan employs seven librarians at the Ringer Library: one branch manager, three reference librarians, two youth services librarians, and one cataloguing librarian. During our observation period, we recorded how much time librarians spent serving patrons. By this we mean the amount of time librarians spent working with patrons who approached them and asked for assistance. This generally occurs when the librarians are working at the reference or children’s desks. We also recorded the amount of time librarians spent conducting programs. Based on feedback from librarians we were also able to determine the approximate amount of time spent preparing for these programs. Table 13 below shows the percentage of a librarian’s time spent on each of these activities. The rows show the service provided, the columns show the percentage of time that would be spent based on the number of librarians working in the library at that time. For example, the table shows us that if there were two librarians working in the library at all times, they would on average serve patrons for 11.16 percent of their time. It should be remembered that librarians work 40 hours a week, but the library is open about 64 hours a week. Therefore it would require three librarians in order to have two librarians working in the library the majority of the time. Table 13: Percent of Time Spent Performing Some Library Duties Librarian Number of Reference Librarians Duty One Two Three Four Serving Patrons 22.32% 11.16% 7.44% 5.58% Programs 10.47% 5.23% 3.49% 2.62% Program Prep 13.46% 6.73% 4.49% 3.37% Total: 46.25% 23.12% 15.42% 11.57% 40 Ringer Library Audit The remainder of the librarian’s time is spent on other duties such as collection development, weeding, class tours, and marketing library services. By rearranging these remaining duties, we believe staffing requirements can be reduced. Specifically, the Branch Manager should take on reference desk duties along with the other reference librarians. Her time not working at the reference desk should then be spent on managerial duties. Additionally, we recommend that the circulation supervisor (who could be re-titled Assistant Branch Manager) be a librarian with reference desk duties as well. Time not spent serving patrons can be spent managing the clerks. The work that the Branch Manager and Circulation Supervisor must discontinue due to the increased reference desk duties can be made up by clerks. As discussed previously in this report, we also believe that staffing costs for clerks can be reduced by implementing a seasonal staffing model. Ringer clerk staffing costs could be further reduced if the library ILA is adjusted to account for the amount of time Ringer staff spend performing the book run for the library system, and the self-checkout machine is replaced. Overall we recommend the following staffing changes: Table 14: Current and Recommended Ringer Library Staffing Library Current Recommended Position FTE Cost Min FTE Min Cost Max FTE Max cost Branch Mgr 1 82,000 1 82,000 1 82,000 Asst Branch Mgr 1 69,000 1 69,000 1 69,000 Librarians 6 380,000 3 190,000 4 253,000 Sr. Clerk 0 0 2 86,000 2 86,000 FT Clerks 7 274,000 2 78,000 3 117,000 PT Clerks 4 59,000 6 88,000 8 118,000 Janitor 1 40,000 0 0 1 40,000 Total: 18 904,000 12 593,000 16 764,000 The cost estimates described in Table 14 above are based on fiscal year 2013 City of Bryan payroll records and assume full employment for the entire fiscal year. The recommended staffing assumes that the library adopts the seasonal staffing model, which makes up the part-time clerks. Even though 6 to 8 FTEs are recommended, we do not necessarily recommend that part-time clerks be employed year-round. The library should consider having zero part time clerks in the slow season, and as many as are needed in the busier seasons. Additionally, as has previously been stated, these staffing changes should not be accomplished through layoffs or demotions. Instead, the library should gradually transition to the new staffing model as staff choose to leave on their own. Ringer Library Audit 41 These changes to the staffing model should introduce fairly significant cost savings. We recommend that these savings be directed toward purchasing library materials. This will move the percentage of expenditures on materials from about 4 percent to 15 to 30 percent. Additionally, with the reduced staffing for reference librarians, there is a reduced need for reference librarian desks. Therefore if the library decides to reduce reference librarians, then the library redesign should take this into account and reduce the number of reference desks. We would suggest the reference desk in the children’s area be eliminated to provide a larger space for children and families. There May be Some Principal Agent Issues with the Library Agreement A principal-agent dilemma occurs when one entity (the agent) can make decisions on behalf of another entity (the principal), but the two entities do not have perfectly aligned goals. This can lead to the agent making decisions that are best for the agent, but are not to the benefit of the principal. For example, if a principal hired an agent to perform maintenance on his vehicle, the two have slightly opposing goals. The principal wants the vehicle to last as long as possible so that he does not need to buy a new vehicle too soon. The agent wants to minimize costs of maintenance for himself. Therefore, the agent may be tempted to cut corners on the maintenance—such as using low quality materials or delaying repairs—which results in savings for the agent but greater long-term costs for the principal. For the most part, the ILA manages to avoid the principal agent dilemma. For example, since College Station owns the Ringer Library’s facility as well as the van used in interlibrary loans, College Station is in charge of their maintenance. However, we found that there are two areas that may give rise to principal-agent issues: material purchases and janitorial services. Material purchases. As has previously been mentioned, the Library System Director, a Bryan City employee, has final authority on selection of materials for the Ringer Library. Because College Station is the owner of Ringer library materials, this means that the City of Bryan decides what library materials the City of College Station will and will not own. However, from a practical standpoint, the Library System Director’s final authority is not an issue because he has delegated purchasing decisions to Ringer staff, who are less likely to make material selection decisions that would hurt the Ringer Library for the purpose of benefitting the Bryan libraries. 42 Ringer Library Audit Janitorial services. One full-time janitor has been hired by the City of Bryan for the Ringer Library. Because janitorial services are essentially the day-to-day maintenance of a building, it means that Bryan is in charge of a substantial portion of the Ringer Library’s maintenance. Therefore, it would probably be in the city’s best long-term interest to take over janitorial services. This would not increase costs since College Station reimburses Bryan for the cost of the janitor anyway. Recommendation 13: Library Agreement— College Station should keep the ILA in some form in order to have continued access to a shared collection, but the agreement should be altered in certain aspects. Consideration should be given to the following:  The City of College Station may want to consider taking over all staffing of the Ringer Library in order to increase governmental and democratic control. This would also solve any principal agent issues that may exist within the current agreement. However, this will increase indirect personnel costs and may make coordination between the libraries less efficient. Regardless of whether or not College Station takes over of all library staffing, College Station should consider assuming control of janitorial services at the library.  Costs for the Twin City Interlibrary Loan program should be adjusted to take into account the time Ringer employees spend working in the Mounce Library. Alternatively, procedures should be adjusted so duties are more equitably shared between staff of each library.  The Ringer Library should consider reallocating staffing as laid out in this report. Alternatively, the Ringer Library could gradually reduce staffing through turnover and then leave positions vacant. All or a portion of savings realized through vacancy savings could then be utilized to acquire a new self-checkout machine or new materials. To provide further incentive for Bryan Library Management to realize vacancy savings, the ILA could be modified to require College Station to spend a portion of agreed open vacancy savings on capital related library expenditures.  The City of College Station should strive to maintain the shared collection and shared electronic cataloguing system (Polaris). If this part of the ILA were terminated, the City of College Station would be left without a library catalog system because the City of Bryan holds all the licensing rights of the Polaris Library System. The sharing of a catalog system for patrons to easily reserve or checkout books from either Ringer or Mounce is one of the biggest benefits to the ILA and should be maintained if at all possible. In addition, the upfront cost to College Station (monetarily and staff time) to implement a new catalog system could be substantial. Ringer Library Audit 43 Summary of Audit Recommendations 1. Reference desk transactions—Management should consider modifying the computer use policy to allow computer users to continue using a computer once their allotted time has lapsed if there are not additional patrons waiting to use the computer. This process should be automated as much as possible to allow for ease of use and reduce staff time required to address these routine requests. 2. Job rotation—Management should consider periodically rotating different members of staff into the position of cataloger. 3. Performance standards—Consideration should be given to setting reasonable cataloging performance standards. In addition, documented cataloging policies and procedures may need to be modified to give guidance on cataloging difficult items that are currently taking up a disproportionate amount of the Cataloging Librarian’s time. 4. Materials budget—The City of College Station should increase its budget for library materials. 5. Collection development policy—Management should revise its collection development policy. The policy should establish priorities, support efforts, and help facilitate decisions that will result in better coordination amongst librarians when making system-wide purchasing decisions. 6. Analytics—librarians should begin using analytics and other best practices outlined in CREW: A Weeding Manual for Public Libraries when they are weeding library materials. 7. Programs—Management should evaluate programs based on effectiveness (i.e. meets the mission, goals or objectives of the organization) and efficiency (e.g. the ratio of staff time to program participation). 8. Circulation front desk—Management should consider reducing the number of clerks assigned to work the circulation desk. 9. Seasonal staffing—The Ringer Library should initiate a seasonal staffing model for its clerks. This will increase the library’s efficiency and help ensure the library is properly staffed throughout the year. 10. Self check-out—The Ringer Library should either repair or replace the current self checkout machine. 11. Management— Ringer library management should focus their efforts on functions that are within their stated job description. 44 Ringer Library Audit 12. Library Redesign—No matter what direction the city chooses to take for the library redesign, there are three general principles that should be followed: (1) consider long-term operational costs, (2) receive staff input, and (3) remember noise reduction. 13. Library Agreement— College Station should keep the ILA in some form in order to have continued access to a shared collection, but the agreement should be altered in certain aspects. Ringer Library Audit 45 Appendix A: Management Responses to the Audit Recommendations TO: Ty Elliot, City Internal Auditor FROM: Larry Koeninger, Ed. D., Library System Director SUBJECT: Management Response to Ringer Library Operations Audit DATE: April 22, 2014 The following is the Library System Director’s response to the recommendations in the City of College Station City Auditor Office’s Ringer Library Operations Audit. Recommendation 1. Reference desk transactions—Management should consider modifying the computer use policy to allow computer users to continue using a computer once their allotted time has lapsed if there are not additional patrons waiting to use the computer. This process should be automated as much as possible to allow for ease of use and reduce staff time required to address these routine requests. The computer use policy has been modified by management following recommendations from a Library Administrative Staff meeting. The new policy will extend computer time at the Ringer Library to 1.5 hours of use with two automatic time extensions of 15 minutes each. Usage will be monitored to determine if the longer additional time period is effective in reducing the amount of staff time spent. The final comment in this section of the audit report states that librarians are not proactive in seeking out patrons. Management will begin addressing this issue system wide. Management would like to highlight the information contained in footnote 7 that includes additional librarian duties. Recommendation 2. Job rotation—Management should consider periodically rotating different members of staff into the position of cataloger. Although cataloging can be a monotonous task the recommendation of rotating staff is not acceptable to management. The accuracy of the library catalog is crucial to ease of access of materials by patrons and staff. The cataloger must be conversant with complex cataloging rules and with the history of cataloging for the library system. Cataloging is a highly specialized area of librarianship. Decisions that were made years ago may require the cataloger to edit information on a downloaded record for a particular item due to how related items were cataloged in the past. Management will encourage other librarians to learn the basics of cataloging so that they will be available to assist the cataloging librarian as needed. Recommendation 3. Performance standards—Consideration should be given to setting reasonable cataloging performance standards. In addition, documented cataloging policies and procedures may need to be modified to give guidance to cataloging difficult items that are currently taking up a disproportionate amount of Cataloging Librarian’s time. 46 Ringer Library Audit Management will meet with Library Catalogers and Cataloging Clerks to develop performance standards for cataloging and processing difficult items. Recommendation 4. Materials budget—The City of College Station should increase its budget for library materials. Management concurs. The materials budget for College Station is inadequate. Management requests that cost savings created by staff reductions outlined in the audit report be used to supplement library materials budgets. Table 6 reports that people are in general ―Satisfied‖ with the print collections and ―Somewhat Satisfied‖ with the non-print collections. More funds should be devoted to the expansion of the electronic collections. Recommendation 5. Collection Development policy—Management should revise its collection development policy. The policy should establish priorities, support efforts, and help facilitate decisions that will result in better coordination amongst librarians when making system-wide purchasing decisions. Collection Development requires librarians to develop an understanding of the needs of the community. Librarians balance the amount of funds available with the demand for fiction, non- fiction, school curriculum support (public and academic) and movies. In addition the number of formats that are now available require libraries to purchase popular titles in print, large print, audio, and electronic formats. Management concurs that determining the number of copies needed by the library system to meet public demand is a crucial component of collection development. Guidelines will be developed for determining how many copies of each item will be purchased for the Library System. The collection development policy will be edited and revised to incorporate Recommendation 5. Recommendation 6. Analytics—Librarians should begin using analytics and other best practices outlined in CREW: A Weeding Manual for Public Libraries when they are weeding library materials. Management concurs the weeding process should be streamlined. The Library System has 5 licenses for the Polaris reports module. Librarians in each library will be selected and trained in creating and printing reports. These librarians will need to coordinate the creation of reports so that the processing of a large volume report does not hamper the operations of Polaris during business hours. The Library System uses the CREW method as the basis for weeding. Library staff will be re-trained so that they understand the principles of CREW and apply them while weeding. A formal policy will be written as a guide for weeding. Recommendation 7. Programs—Management should evaluate programs based on effectiveness (i.e. meets the mission, goals or objectives of the organization) and efficiency (e.g. the ratio of staff time to program participation). Ringer Library Audit 47 Management concurs that the children’s programs are much more efficient than the adult or tween/teen programs. However, management believes that programming for all ages supports the library system’s mission statement by providing educational opportunities to the citizens. Management will evaluate all programs to determine what is effective and what should be modified or dropped. Recommendation 8. Circulation front desk—Management should consider reducing the number of clerks assigned to work the circulation desk. Management will work with the City of College Station to reduce the number of clerks and develop work schedules that maintain customer services. Management requests that the City of College Station use the cost savings created by staff reductions to supplement the library materials budget. Recommendation 9. Seasonal Staffing—The Ringer Library should initiate a seasonal staffing model for its clerks. This will increase the library’s efficiency and help ensure the library is properly staffed throughout the year. Management concurs that library usage is seasonal. Management concurs that senior clerks are a reasonable measure especially if the Circulation Supervisor position is to become an Assistant Manager position. There are several clerks who would be excellent in this position currently on staff. Wage scales and job descriptions will need to be developed for Senior Clerk and Assistant Branch Manager by the City of Bryan. Management is heartened to see that layoffs are not recommended. Management understands that the reduction in employee costs may be used to supplement the materials budget. Recommendation 10. Self check-out—The Ringer Library should either repair or replace the current self checkout machine. Management requests that the self-check unit be replaced as soon as possible. The current unit is unreliable. Replacing the self-check unit will help to mitigate the impact of a smaller staff on customer service. Recommendation 11. Management—Ringer Library management should focus their efforts on functions that are within their stated job description. The Library Branch Manager who was observed by the audit team recently resigned. The new Branch Manager will be required to learn the duties of the clerks and the librarians and will be able to perform the duties of any employee at Ringer. Recommendation 12. Library redesign—No matter what direction the city chooses to take for library redesign, there are three general principles that should be followed: (1) consider long-term operational costs, (2) receive staff input, and (3) remember noise reduction. Management concurs with Recommendation 12. Management believes that the Ringer library can be expanded without the need for additional staff. A single story design with expanded space for meeting rooms and study areas should prove to be the most effective. 48 Ringer Library Audit Management concurs that the library staff should have considerable input into the design of the new facility, but would also encourage the city to include other stakeholders such as the Library Advisory Board, the Friends of the Library, and the public. Management believes that noise reduction can be accomplished as part of the design. The auditor has identified several steps that could be taken. The redesign of the space could include a children’s area that is not only expanded, but also separated from the main library space with walls or partitions. Management concurs that a second library would not be fiscally responsible. A second location would require additional staff and resources and create ongoing costs for salaries and benefits. Recommendation 13. Library Agreement—College Station should keep the ILA in some form in order to have continued access to a shared collection, but the agreement should be altered in certain aspects. Management and City of Bryan administration will work with City of College Station representatives to revise the current ILA. Book Runs—Staffing patterns will be addressed in order to provide more equitable cost in terms of staff time. When the library system was created the College Station collections were very small. The Bryan Library provided the materials and the College Station Library provided the transportation of books between the two locations including staff to transport and process them. As stated in the audit report there are three times the number of items going from the Mounce Library to the Ringer Library. In the latest Intergovernmental Contract the City of Bryan agreed to begin funding part of the costs of the van including fuel, maintenance, and the replacement of the vehicle. Management will develop a plan to distribute the staff workload more evenly between the Mounce Library and Ringer Library staffs. Material Purchases—Management will revise the Selection Policy to emphasize the need for cooperation between Ringer Librarians and Mounce Librarians for the purposes of collection development. Janitorial Services – Maintenance of the Ringer Library should be the responsibility of College Station. Polaris—According to the Intergovernmental Contract in the event of termination of the contract ―BRYAN shall remain the license holder for Polaris ILS and College Station hereby consents to the removal of all software and hardware related to said license from the Premises as required by the license agreement with Polaris Library Systems.‖ Ringer Library Audit 49 Appendix B: Ringer Library Survey Methodology & Results Ringer Library Survey Methodology 1. We began by conducting a 28 day observation of the library and interviewing all library staff. This gave us sufficient background information to know where to focus the survey questions. 2. We wrote a draft of the survey, and had the survey reviewed by library staff and professionals in the City of College Station communications department (who have extensive experience administering surveys). We updated the survey according to their feedback. 3. We had the survey filled out by several College Station employs who are not involved in the audit in any way in order to test the questions for validity and reliability. 4. The survey was administered via surveymonkey by the City of College Station communications department. 5. The survey was advertised via the City’s communication channels (community outreach newsletter, blog, facebook, and twitter); through the library’s communication channels (newsletter, website, facebook). Library and audit staff were also encouraged to promote the survey via their personal social media accounts. The survey was available online from Jan. 30, 2014 through Mar. 4, 2014. 6. Hard copies of the survey were also administered at the Ringer Library. The survey was available in the library from Feb. 13, 2014 through Mar. 4, 2014. 7. After the survey closed, the online responses and hardcopy responses were compared in order to verify validity and reliability. Ringer Library Survey Results Q1: In the last year, how often have you used the services or programs at College Station’s Larry J. Ringer Library (online or in person)? Answer Choices Responses At least 3 times a week 19 Once or twice a week 61 Once or twice a month 113 Once or twice every 6 months 43 Once or twice a year 31 Never 16 Total 283 Q2: Do you have a library card? Answer Choices Responses Yes 264 No 19 Total 283 50 Ringer Library Audit Q3: Did you know these materials are available for checkout at the Ringer Library? Category Yes No Total Audio books 263 18 281 Fiction books 282 1 283 Non-fiction books 282 1 283 Children’s books 280 3 283 Young adult books 270 9 279 Large print books 238 37 275 Music CDs 182 94 276 DVD & Blue-Ray Films 243 35 278 E-audio books 193 79 272 E-books 207 66 273 Magazines/ Serials 235 39 274 Foreign language material 185 82 267 Q4: How important is it to you that these materials are available? Category Very Important Somewhat Important Somewhat Unimportant Not at All Important Total Audio books 113 90 45 35 283 Fiction books 236 34 3 10 283 Non-fiction books 227 46 6 4 283 Children’s books 212 37 18 16 283 Young adult books 196 52 21 14 283 Large print books 125 80 36 42 283 Music CDs 52 69 95 67 283 DVD & Blue-Ray films 100 93 60 30 283 E-audio books 108 82 54 39 283 E-books 156 70 29 28 283 Magazines/ Serials 99 84 64 36 283 Foreign language books, films, etc. 77 84 53 69 283 Q5: How satisfied are you with the materials provided by the Ringer Library? Category Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Never Used Total Audio books 95 55 8 4 115 277 Fiction books 183 67 11 3 17 281 Non-fiction books 161 81 9 5 25 281 Children’s books 153 49 5 2 69 278 Young adult books 135 51 3 3 86 278 Large print books 90 29 3 2 150 274 Music CDs 56 20 1 4 191 272 DVD & Blue-Ray films 74 70 11 5 117 277 E-audio books 51 38 11 12 159 271 E-books 64 52 19 13 126 274 Magazines/ Serials 79 54 12 1 126 272 Foreign language books, films, etc. 49 33 11 4 176 273 Ringer Library Audit 51 Q6: Did you know the Ringer Library provides these services? Category Yes No Total Interlibrary loan 233 50 283 Computer/wi-fi access 269 14 283 Research databases 201 82 283 Fax machine access 131 152 283 Meeting rooms 228 55 283 Tax help/legal forms 207 76 283 Book deliveries to homebound seniors 65 218 283 Q7: How important to you are these services that are provided by the Ringer Library? Category Very Important Somewhat Important Somewhat Unimportant Not at All Important Total Interlibrary loan 178 72 13 20 283 Computer/wi-fi access 163 74 12 34 283 Research databases 139 89 23 32 283 Fax machine access 73 67 55 88 283 Meeting rooms 105 105 34 39 283 Tax help/legal forms 94 81 40 68 283 Book deliveries to homebound seniors 134 89 17 43 283 Q8: How satisfied are you with the services provided by the Ringer Library? Category Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Never Used Total Interlibrary loan 143 24 1 3 111 282 Computer/wi-fi access 149 31 4 3 93 280 Research databases 97 28 0 4 151 280 Fax machine access 52 8 2 4 213 279 Meeting rooms 89 31 8 4 149 281 Tax help/legal forms 77 18 1 2 182 280 Book deliveries to homebound seniors 43 8 1 2 223 277 Q9: Did you know the Ringer Library provides these programs? Category Yes No Total Book clubs 176 107 283 Children’s story time 267 16 283 Computer classes 177 106 283 Craft/art making 157 126 283 Movie showings 174 109 283 Author visits 189 94 283 Writing workshops 126 157 283 Summer reading program 256 27 283 Holiday/themed parties 135 148 283 Science programs 136 147 283 Shows (puppets, music, etc.) 202 81 283 52 Ringer Library Audit Q10: How important to you are these programs at the Ringer Library? Category Very Important Somewhat Important Somewhat Unimportant Not at All Important Total Book clubs 108 88 36 47 279 Children’s story time 175 58 13 36 282 Computer classes 119 79 29 52 279 Craft/art making 71 100 51 58 280 Movie showings 67 94 63 55 279 Author visits 117 93 27 42 279 Writing workshops 107 94 26 51 278 Summer reading program 183 49 15 32 279 Holiday/themed parties 55 87 66 70 278 Science programs 129 90 19 40 278 Shows (puppets, music, etc.) 107 94 27 51 279 Q11: How satisfied are you with the services provided by the Ringer Library? Category Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Never Used Total Book clubs 61 16 1 2 201 281 Children’s story time 98 37 5 5 138 283 Computer classes 54 16 3 2 206 281 Craft/art making 63 20 2 4 193 282 Movie showings 55 19 1 6 200 281 Author visits 60 22 1 2 196 281 Writing workshops 46 18 2 3 211 280 Summer reading prog. 106 33 7 6 129 281 Parties (holiday/themed) 51 17 0 4 209 281 Science programs 69 19 1 3 188 280 Shows (puppets, etc.) 73 27 4 4 171 279 Q12: Did you know the Ringer Library provides these programs? Category 1 2 3 Total Materials 260 13 10 283 Services 12 234 37 283 Programs 11 36 236 283 Q13: Please rank these programs categories in order of importance (1=most important)? Category 1 2 3 4 5 Total Children 156 78 29 15 5 283 Teen 11 105 97 60 10 283 Adult 86 37 83 68 9 283 Family 28 55 65 122 13 283 Foreign Language 2 8 9 18 246 283 Q14: What’s one thing that would increase your use of the Ringer Library? Open ended results Q15: How do you typically find out about the library’s services and program? Answer Choices Responses Library website 153 Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) 51 Ringer Library Audit 53 Local newspaper 61 Library newsletter 25 Bulletin boards 38 Library staff 65 Word of mouth 112 Total Respondents: 283 Q16: How old are you? Answer Choices Responses 12 or under 2 13-18 4 19-25 12 26-45 125 46-64 87 65 or older 53 Total: 283 Q17: What is your gender? Answer Choices Responses Female 196 Male 87 Total: 283 Q18: How long have you lived in the area? Answer Choices Responses Fewer than 5 years 60 6-10 years 59 11-20 years 69 More than 20 years 95 Total: 283 Q19: What is your annual household income? Answer Choices Responses Less than $20,000 15 $20,001 to $40,000 27 $40,001 to $60,000 50 $60,001 to $80,000 43 More than $80,000 118 Total: 253 Q20: What is the highest level of education you have completed? Answer Choices Responses None 0 Grade school 1 Middle or intermediate school 1 Some high school 1 High school graduate 8 Some college 43 Bachelor degree 98 54 Ringer Library Audit Graduate degree 128 Total: 280 Q21: What is your employment status? Answer Choices Responses Employed/self-employed 154 Homemaker 34 Retired 45 Unemployed 5 College student 6 Other student 4 Total: 248 Q22: Please choose the number on the map below that corresponds to the area where you live? Answer Choices Responses 1 7 2 16 3 29 4 48 5 29 6 60 7 29 8 30 I live outside the city limits 35 Total: 283