Nesmith Library Board of Trustees
*Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Present: Trustees — Mark Branoff (Chairman), Carolyn Webber (Vice-Chairman), Norman Boutillette (Treasurer), Mary Lee Underhill (Assistant Treasurer), Patricia Barstow (Recording Secretary), Karen Marcil (Corresponding Secretary)
Director — Carl Heidenblad
Assistant Directors — Lois Freeston
Others – Amy Lapointe, Director, Amherst Town Library and President, GMILCS; Marilyn Borgendale, Executive Director and System Administrator, GMILCS
Excused: Trustees – Peter Tousignant
Call to Order:
This special meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order at 6:30 pm.
GMILCS: The Polaris interface was displayed and briefly discussed. The system is very customizable in terms of both look and search parameters (what libraries are being searched, what types of materials are being searched, e.g., children’s non-fiction). Searches can also provide listings of similar titles. Marilyn implements the customization for each member library. The Destiny software that we use now is not very customizable and its search capabilities constitute only a very small subset of what Polaris offers. To make searches marginally more customizable, we use Destiny Quest for searches.
The Polaris software provides access to a worldwide system of book reviews. Library patron reviews are available using ChiliFresh; professional reviews such as Publishers Weekly reviews are also available.
Polaris is accessible via smart phones and this is evidence of the company’s commitment to innovation. Follett, the maker of Destiny, does not offer this.
Amherst Town Library has had this system for three years and its patrons have become entirely comfortable with the fact that a book doesn’t need to be housed in Amherst. Last fiscal year, the GMILCS van brought 27,000 items to Amherst for its patrons. Amherst is a net GMILCS lender and lent a bit more than that number of items, but Amy never feels that there’s a gross inequity.
Traditional ILL loans are very labor-intensive from the staff perspective. GMILCS loans can be arranged online by patrons at home, if they so choose, and the books are delivered to the local library, eliminating all of the time-consuming work that ILL loans entail for the local librarian.
We have around 88 thousand items while Amherst has approximately 76 thousand. The Manchester City Library has the largest collection in the group, and the Kelly Library of Salem has the second largest, totaling in the vicinity of 120 thousand. Among GMILCS member libraries, there is naturally a lot of overlap in collections, but Amherst now spends less money to purchase multiple copies of any item.
Each library has the option to limit the loaning of certain collections. (Amherst now lends just about everything.) If there’s a hold on a book within a library, the book is not used to fulfill a GMILCS request. All of our museum passes could be restricted for use by Windham patrons only, if we chose. Likewise, other things like children’s programming could be restricted. These restrictions could be easily implemented by the system administrator, Marilyn.
Access to our online databases would still be restricted to our library patrons. Another benefit of GMILCS membership is that members that are public libraries negotiate together to get better prices for their individual annual memberships in online databases.
Most of the GMILCS libraries rely on the state’s consortium for downloadable books and, thus, e-books are not loaned through GMILCS. GMILCS considered and decided against supplementing what’s available from the state. Membership would position us to take better advantage of future developments in this area.
Eight out of ten people getting library cards in Windham ask where else the card can be used. In other states, it’s common for communities to have reciprocity. In fact, other states have been offering consortia on a much grander scale for years or decades.
The recent funding cuts to the state van service are a big concern and were discussed at the last GMILCS Board meeting. The Board decided to make no immediate changes, and some libraries have ended up with a backlog of items that have been requested but can’t be sent because they exceed the weekly limit. At the next meeting, the Board will probably investigate changes in any of three areas: restricting what is being sent, restricting where it is being sent, or adding supplemental van service. (It costs only 42 cents an item to send something on the state van.)
GMILCS’ membership is stable. Since 2000, one new member has joined and one is now leaving. SNHU is leaving to go it alone now that it is a university. (UNH Manchester left the consortium when it was folded back into the UNH system, but didn’t want to leave GMILCS.) Our membership invitation resulted from a day-long retreat prompted by SNHU’s departure. Board members discussed where they want to go with membership, whether they want to remain the same size or grow significantly. Amy feels that the current size is good. The Board was looking for a library that would bring something to the table and invited the Nesmith Library and Colby-Sawyer College, which is a sister college of GMILCS member New England College.
Benefits to joining GMILCS include the fact that the group has done all of the hard work of figuring out how it to make the collaboration work, and is really good at it. The borrowing system is much easier for staff and patrons than ILL. Van traffic is certainly an issue but eleven good libraries are working to figure out a short-term solution to the transportation problem. In the meantime, the ability to go directly to another library to borrow a book mitigates the problem somewhat. Also, we’re geographically close to the other libraries.
GMILCS offers great opportunities for professional development networking. Training is specific to Polaris, but special interest librarian groups, e.g, reference librarians, share lots of information and can decide among themselves to schedule their own professional development sessions.
GMILCS owns its hardware so joining means that we wouldn’t need to buy servers or firewalls in the future. We also wouldn’t need to purchase an expensive software system or hire a system administrator.
GMILCS licenses software from Polaris, paying them maintenance fees based on the number of computers on which it runs. We would need 14 licenses, and SNHU is giving up 15. GMILCS’ maintenance contract is up for renewal on August 26th. They won’t continue paying the maintenance fee for licenses they’re not using but, if we commit by then to coming on board, they will continue to pay the fee until we eventually do come on board. The money would be folded into our start-up costs, which can be paid over two to three years.
GMILCS is a 501C-3 equivalent organization and finances are handled on a cash basis. The Treasurer, currently the Bedford Library director, has signature authority over accounts. The Vice President also has signature authority. Payroll for the two employees is handled by a payroll company. In lieu of paying rent to the Hooksett Public Library for office space, the Hooksett library shares GMILCS’ T1 line.
The Polaris system was paid for in cash. In a couple of years, there will be enough money in the accounts to purchase a new system. Joining GMILCS now makes sense because the capital buy-in fee at the moment is quite low. The capital account was decimated three years ago when they bought Polaris, which cost $350,000, and is being built back up but is still relatively small.
GMILCS’ income derives from its member libraries’ annual dues. A library’s annual dues are determined based on five factors: the number of titles it owns, the number of items it owns, the number of acquisitions it has made in the last year, the number of licenses it has, and its circulation.
Marilyn and Kevin, the Technology Librarian, work in tandem and both have library degrees, although neither is a programmer.
The Board of Directors is composed of the directors of the member libraries.
One Nesmith Library Trustee feels that our library is at a major decision point: do we want to continue to be an excellent mid-sized town library or do we want to step up to the next level in terms of becoming a library of the technological future?
Special Trustees’ Meeting: A special Trustees’ meeting to discuss GMILCS will be held on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm.
Strategic Planning Committee Meeting: The next meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee will take place on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm.
Trustees’ Meeting: The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 beginning at 7:00 pm.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 pm.
Draft subject to approval
[*Special meeting called to discuss GMILCS]