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The PL Context

Sarah A. Foster

University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Abstract

This paper will be focused on the Leesburg Public Library and specifically the adult services. The Leesburg Public Library is located in central Florida as a part of the Lake County Library System. This paper will analyze the demographics of the community, mission, goals and objectives, purpose, vision, and what the adult services offers and how it can improve.

1.1 Identify your PL agency. Characterize the nature of the agency, its setting, and the people who are employed in it. What kind of organization is it? What are its members like? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

This assessment and evaluation will be based on the Leesburg Public Library's adult services. Leesburg Public Library is located in Central Florida and is a member of the Lake County Library System. Lake County Library System consists of nine member libraries and six branch libraries. Leesburg Public Library is a member library because it is funded by the county and city. The library is open five days a week for a total of fifty-two hours a week (Lake County Library System, 2008). The library is 43,000 square feet with a cafe, bookstore, two large meeting rooms, adult fiction area, young adult teen room, youth services, story room, upstairs adult services area, non-fiction area, genealogy area, Florida room, four study rooms, board room, and technology lab. The library has for individuals eighteen and older only, a total of thirty-six computers on the second floor, and more computers down stairs for individuals under eighteen. Four computers are reserved for genealogy research, twenty computers are used for adult patron regular use, and twelve computers for technology classes (Library Director, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

Leesburg Public Library has 21,500 registered borrowers. According to the City of Leesburg, FL Annual Budget: For The Fiscal Year 2014/2015, in 2014 to 2015 the library had a total circulation of 385,000 or 17.91 items per borrower and public computer use of 115,000 or 40.13 individuals per hour. There were a total of 265,000 library visits for 2014 to 2015. The adult services hosted 200 programs with an attendance of 4,800 individuals (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 221). According to U.S. Census Bureau, on July 1, 2013 Leesburg had an estimated population of 21,142 and Lake County had 308,034. Lake County consists of 25.7% of persons over sixty-five, 84.8% are White alone, and 10.5% are African American alone. In Leesburg, Florida, for 2009-2013, 84.1% over twenty-five years of age have a high school degree or higher, and 17.9% over twenty-five years of age have a bachelor's degree or higher. The city of Leesburg has an estimated 21.4% persons in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). According to these statistics the city of Leesburg has registered borrowers over the estimated population in 2013. The Library serves a community of majority white, a fourth over sixty-five years of age, and almost a fourth in poverty. Many of the community seek government financial assistance, internet access, education through books, technology classes, programs, and one on one adult learning. The geographical location attracts individuals who are homeless and individuals over fifty in the winter months that are out of state. The library is also located across from a community college. Several students use the library for studying, relaxation, printing, and tutoring (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

Leesburg is governed first by the citizens who elect the five city commissioners. The city commissioners make the decisions for the community on how to best appropriate and use the funds given to care for the community's people, buildings, and city businesses. Their authority goes down to the 3.9 city managers who ensure that the budget is being carried out appropriately and bylaws are being followed (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg.8). The library director follows and answers to the city managers and city commissioners. The director pays close attention to city and county meetings to find out how the economy and the elected's politics will affect the library's budget and zoning of the building and communities buildings (Library Director, personal communication, February 2, 2014).

The Leesburg Public library is a part of the Lake County Library System. The director of the library answers to not only the city's community governance but also the Lake County Library System's governance. "The Lake County Library System is governed by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners (Lake County Library System, 2008)". There are five county commissioners, who pass their authority to the City Manager. The City Manager then speaks with the Public Resources Department, who cares for three divisions including the Library Services Division (Lake County Government, 2014). The director of Leesburg Public Library answers directly to the Library Services Division manager of Lake County and city managers of Leesburg city.

Leesburg Public Library has a staff of twenty-nine individuals. The director directly governs six different departments of the library. Those departments and their staff are; administrative assistant (1), program coordinator (1), bookstore manager (1, staff are volunteer Friends of the Library), youth services (5), support services (14), and adult services (6). The adult services has a supervisor, who is over two librarians, two library assistants, and one temporary. Adult services responsibilities consist of: collection development, reference, genealogy and local history, reader's advisory, programs, public computers, adult literacy, and community outreach (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 219).

The Leesburg Public library is a community center. It is a place for many to find help and shelter. Over 1,000 individuals came to the library in 2014 for one-on-one government assistance through the "Helping Hand's Tuesday" program, which provides non-profit volunteers to assist with food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, housing, and temporary financial assistance (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 220). For many it is a place to gather for entertainment, meetings, and education. During 2014 to 2015 the library had 200 adult programs from technology training, health, book signing, entertainment, and lifelong learning with an attendance of 4,800. As a house for books of all reading levels, and genres it has not lost its allure. This can be seen by the fact that 385,000 items were checked out in 2014 to 2015. The library is a technology center which provides thirty-six computers for adults with an approximate usage of forty individuals per hour. There are also printers, copier, scanner, microfilm, magnifiers, digital audio and video devices, and technology training classes available (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 221).

According to the Leesburg Public Library Support Services Supervisor (February 2, 2015) the libraries top three strengths are employees, customer service, and collection, but the top three weaknesses are space, internet, and design. The strengths of employees are shown in several areas including: in adult services three out of six staff members have a Masters in Library science, and the staff prides itself and is known for its personal connections that they have made with patrons (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

The Leesburg collection alone holds 152,000 items and includes several specialized collections such as, Florida non-fiction, genealogy and history, adult literacy, materials written in Spanish, large print, biography, digital audio devices, DVDs, CDs, video games, and graphic novels (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 221).

Space and design are two of the library's greatest weaknesses. Although the current building was built in 2007, and was double the size of the previous library space, it is felt that the space was not realistic for the amount of patronage experienced and design flawed. There were two entrances into the library, one located on the main street of the city and the other located at the back of the library closest to parking and where youth services is located. This allowed for heavy adult traffic to be going through the youth services and became a safety concern. In January 2015 the automatic doors were removed and replaced with emergency crash doors and the back entrance was closed to regular use. Elderly and disabled patrons have been concerned with this change, feeling that the front entrance is too far from the majority of parking. As far as space, there are plans to expand the space on the second floor within the next two to three years. It has not been confirmed as of yet what exactly will be done with the space. It has been discussed to add more meeting rooms, computers, a makers space, and expand the book collection. Lastly, internet access was also originally contracted to serve only the usage of the computers within the facility. As years have passed and technology has advanced more individuals are bringing in their own technology to connect to Wi-Fi and have slowed the speed of internet access significantly. This has prevented patrons from getting to their online needs in a timely manner (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

1.2 Summarize the PL organization's mission, goals, and objectives.

According to the Leesburg Public Library Policy manual the libraries mission is, "Enriching our community with service excellence to provide information, recreation and life-long learning opportunities. (City of Leesburg, 2012, pg.1)"

According to the City of Leesburg Annual Budget: Fiscal Year 2014-2015 (2014, pg. 220) the values or objective and goals are,
"(1) Excellence in all we do: (a) Expand access to the library from five to six days per week, with an increase of five open hours per week, an increase from fifty-two to fifty-seven hour per week. (b) Maintain online access to the library online catalog and databases 24/7 through the library website with patron access to their individual account for renewals and reserves. (c) Continue to build staff competencies through webinars, workshops and annual Staff Development Day.
(2) Open, Accessible Government: (a) Provide virtual reference through librarian@leesburgflorida.gov during all library hours. (b) Continue to participate in the online "Ask-a-Librarian" program, Florida's Virtual Reference Service. (c) Promote library services and programming through the online calendar, social media sites, local news media including Lake Front TV, on-site monitors, printed flyers, utility mailer inserts, and the library and county websites. (d) Provide information about the library to citizens through public speaking engagements, library's monthly newsletter and calendar, social media pages, and the library website.
(3) Fiscal Responsibility: (a) Pursue the establishment of a public foundation for the library to apply for, and accept, funds from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, and government agencies. (b) Expand the ability to collect overdue fines and lost item replacement costs through implementation of credit/debit card acceptance through the Integrated Library System. (c) Work to increase FY 2014-2015 circulation of library materials for higher allocation of available funding through the Lake County Library System. (d) Assist the Friends of the Leesburg Library, Inc. in its fundraising efforts.
(4) A Caring Organization: (a) Continue to expand early literacy efforts through weekly outreach visits to day care centers, participation in community family resource fairs and school events (backpack fair, parents' night) and other events for children and families. (b) Continue the partnership with the County library system for adult literacy programs, including basic literacy, pre-GED, and other educational programs. (c) Continue to participate with local non-profit organizations on projects intended to improve the quality of life for Leesburg residents."

In summarization, the Leesburg Public Library's mission is to provide opportunity to enrich, serve, inform, entertain, and educate the community (City of Leesburg, 2012, pg.1). This is outlined in the four objectives of the library and their goals. The first objective is to have "excellence in all we do" by increasing the hours open, providing 24/7 access to catalog and patron accounts, and continuing staff training through webinars. The second objective is to provide "open, accessible government" by being accessible through email, Florida's Virtual Reference Service, informing and promoting library services and programs to the public through various internal, external, and online means. The third objective is to be "fiscally responsible" through pursuing funding from external sources outside the county and city, accepting credit and debit charges for patron fees, increase circulation in order to receive an increase in funding from Lake County Library System, and assisting the Friends of the Leesburg Library in fundraising efforts. The last objective is to be a "caring organization" by expanding early literacy efforts, continuing the adult literacy program, and continuing participation with non-profit organizations who are benefiting the community. (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 220)

1.3 Provide an analysis of the PL in terms of its rationale, vision, market, offerings, and capabilities.

The rationale of the library can be seen in the City of Leesburg Annual Budget: For The Fiscal Year 2014-2015 (2014, pg.219), "The Library serves as the primary source of all types of information for both city and county residents, provides access to a wide range of informational and recreational materials in a variety of print, non-print, and electronic formats, supports both the formal and informal educational needs of patrons, and encourages children and adults to develop an interest in reading and learning." Based on the rationale of the Leesburg Public Library it is a place of access to information, recreation, and education.

According to the Customer Service Manager (personal communication, February 2, 2015) of the Leesburg Public Library the libraries vision is to expand the library's space, to expand the collection, and develop a makers space. When the library was originally designed the second floor was not completely built, leaving flat roof space for future expansion. The director's goal is to start that expansion within the next two to three years. The space will be used to provide more private study rooms, develop a makerspace, provide more computers, provide more group and individualized seating, and expand the collection. Eventually the director would also like to expand on the sides of the library on the first floor. The focus of the library is to be a place of access, education, and learning while having fun.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census the city of Leesburg contains an age demographic of 22.6 % are 65 years and older, 23.2% are under 18, and 7.6% under 5. Racially the city is 63.5% Caucasian only, 28.2% African American, 9% Hispanic or Latino, and less than 5% other (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). In summarization of the 2010 Census the library's primary users would be Caucasian 18 years and older. The Adult Services Supervisor (personal communication, February 12, 2015) clarified that the library's primary users are Caucasian seniors mostly retired. Through phone, email communication, Ask-a-librarian program, online catalog and account, electronic books, and books by mail several of the resources offered in the library can also be accessed remotely. Programs, classes, printers, scanners, copiers, and assistance with literacy education, and government application from non-profit organizations can only be accessed within the library (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 220).

According to City of Leesburg, FL Annual Budget: For the Fiscal Year 2014/2015 (2014, pg. 219) the adult services "responsibilities are collection development, reference, genealogy and local history, reader's advisory, programs, public computers, adult literacy, and community outreach." The reference section of the adult services served 112,000 individuals or thirty-nine per hour in 2014-2015 (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg.221). The library is capable of each of these offerings through a variety of physical collections, programs, assistance, technology, and remote access. The library's collection development includes books, electronic books and videos, online books and videos, and research databases. Reference services can be found in person, by phone, and email. The library contains a specialized collection of genealogy and local history books, microfilms, obituaries, local census records, microfilm machines, genealogy programs, support of genealogy clubs, and subscription to genealogy databases. In addition the library has a reference librarian who is a genealogist, volunteers who are knowledgeable in genealogy research, and adult services staff receive specialized training on genealogy research. As far as reader's advisory the library subscribes to Novelist, a weekly newsletter is sent out about the newest titles, and bookmarks are provided on suggested reads based on genre and popular writers. Programming and classes are an active part of the library and are designed by the library program coordinator, adult services supervisor, and youth services supervisor. The library provides two large meeting rooms with microphone, projector, podium, chairs, and tables; a story room with tables, chairs, crafting materials, and projector for smaller youth classes; and technology lab consisting of twelves computers, projector, and podium for technology classes. Outside of the technology lab twenty computers are provided to adult patrons eighteen and older, four computers are provided for genealogy research, and three computers for catalog purposes. Lastly the library is capable of adult literacy and community outreach through the assistance of volunteers and non-profit organizations. The adult literacy program is offered by the county and "Helping Hands Tuesday" is offered through SHINE, and ACCESS Florida, who use the adult services literacy materials and four study rooms to assist individuals with learning and government assistance needs (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

The purpose of the Leesburg Public Library is to be a place of access to all that enter and remotely ask for assistance. Providing a variety of services to meet the education, entertainment, technology, research, and economic needs of the community. To continue to improve services and become a primary resource to the needs and continuing education of the populace.

1.4 Describe the vision statement of the PL. What are the various roles that it performs? What are the PL's various service responses.

The Leesburg Public Library does not have a formal written vision for the future of the library. Through discussion with the Customer Service Manager (personal communication, February 2, 2015) it was gathered that the director has plans to expand the library's space, expand the collection, and develop a maker space. The Leesburg Public Library director has already spoken with contractors about the space to be expanded on the second floor within the next two to three years. This additional space is to be used for more private study rooms, maker space, computers, group and individualized seating, and expand the collection. The role of the vision will be to act as a community service center, community information center, formal education support center, independent learning center, and research center (Weingand, 2001, pg.8).

The public library's various service responses include: "basic literacy, commons, community referral, cultural awareness, formal learning support, general information, lifelong learning, and local history and genealogy (Weingand, 2001, pg.8)." By expanding the second floor the library will be able to provide more space for study rooms to be used for the adult literacy program, "Helping Hands Tuesday", tutoring, private studying and group projects. There will also be a commons added which will supply individualized and group seating for socialization and studying. The genealogy section will be able to expand its collection of genealogy materials to assist in local history and genealogical research. With the addition of the makerspace the library will be able to expand upon its lifelong learning and formal learning support (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

1.5 Develop a sample PL Values Statement.

The Leesburg Public Library prides itself upon..
1. Ensuring the best possible customer service for all patrons
2. Providing free and unbiased access to information internally and externally
3. Providing free internet and technology access
4. Providing free programs and classes for patrons continual learning and entertainment
5. Respecting all individuals whether staff or patron.
6. Supporting the continual learning and creativity of staff
7. Appropriating and appropriately applying government and public funds to the development of the library to meet patron needs
8. Being aware of performance and continual improvement of services
9. Listening and being considerate of the concerns of staff and patrons
10. Quickly resolving issues and concerns in the best interest of the library services and patron needs

1.6 List various strategic aims of the PL and at least three specific library strategies in relation to potential services to improve.

The Leesburg Public Library does not have a formal list of strategic aims. Through personal communication and the Annual Budget it has been determined that it is an aim for the library to expand space, provide better internet service, and expand hours.

The first aim is to expand space on the second floor of the building. Strategies to obtain this aim includes determining the cost, time needed, effect on present services, and developing a clear goal and design for the new space. Steps have already been taken to meet the current need by reducing and moving the current reference section so that the space can be redesigned for a common area or makerspace. In addition contractors have surveyed the area to expand into to start the strategic process (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

The second aim is to provide better internet service within the building. The internet service is currently contracted for the whole Lake County Library System. Each library within the system has struggled to meet the high demands of new technology and usage of bandwidth. Patrons and staff struggle with the lack of bandwidth to meet the high demands of the user base. This affects patrons making online searches in a timely manner and staff accessing the catalog to locate books, and check in and out materials. Strategies to increase bandwidth include continual recording of how the lack of bandwidth affects services, recording when the catalog or other services are unavailable and for how long, recording the amount of individuals seen accessing the Wi-Fi on devices, communicating concerns to the County, and waiting for County to re-contract the service to meet the new need (Customer Service Manager, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

The third strategic aim is to expand library hours. Currently full-time library staff work a total of forty hours a week for five days a week. The library is open a total of fifty-two hours a week. The strategy is to expand access to six days per week, and increase to five additional hours per week to serve a total of fifty-seven hours per week (City of Leesburg, 2014, pg. 220).

1.7 If you could develop/extend one PL service to help this organization to be more helpful, what would it be? Why?

The Leesburg Public Library participates actively in the supporting of local authors in Leesburg, Florida. The library hosts the Local Authors showcase that displays local authors who have written self-published books suited for young adult readers and juvenile readers. The library also participates and hosts part of the county's Book festival and the city's Literary Arts Festival. This is where all local self-published authors can promote and sell their new books. Several local authors use the Leesburg Public Library for research, and technology assistance in formatting their books to be ready for publishing. Although outside of assistance in promoting, providing Florida history materials, and periodical assistance with formatting word documents as publishers have requested the library has no other programs, classes, or assistive materials (Adult Services Supervisor, personal communication, February 2, 2015).

The library has an opportunity to develop a new program and group to assist budding writers. It is an access point for local established writers who use the library for book signings. The library could use its connections to established authors to speak with and encourage new authors. The library has the computer technology means to assist writers in formatting their books to meet publisher demands. Providing programming such as local self-publishing companies can be the first stepping stone for writers to become published. This opportunity could lead into a cooperative where authors can share their works amongst each other as a creative writing club and receive productive criticism. As the library expands and develops what it offers to the community through the makerspace one area of consideration may be to provide picture taking and editing opportunities. This will allow the writer to design their book covers and have a professional pictures taken for promotional materials. The library already has the resources, means, and vision that could make this possible in order to enrich the community that already seeks to support its writers.

References

City of Leesburg. (2014). City of Leesburg, FL Annual Budget: For the Fiscal Year 2014/2015. Leesburg, FL: City of Leesburg.

City of Leesburg. (2012). Leesburg Public Library Policy. Leesburg, FL: City of Leesburg.

Lake County Government. (2014). Lake County Government Organizational Chart Fiscal Year 2015. Lake Retrieved from https://www.lakecountyfl.gov/pdfs/county_manager/organizational-chart.pdf.

Lake County Library System. (2008). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from http://www.mylakelibrary.org/frequently_asked_questions.aspx.

Lake County Library System. (2008) About the Lake County Library System. Retrieved from http://mylakelibrary.org/about/.

U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts. (2015). Leesburg (city), Florida. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12/1239875.html

Weingand, D.E. (2001). Administrative of the Small Public Library (Fourth Edition). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Spring 2015

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