My first meeting yesterday was "Admin Council" as we call it. It works like this, the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library was, until last year, a department of the City of Stockton. After the previous director left, however, the Library was rolled into a new Community Services department along with Recreation, Golf, the Arts Commission and Art in Public Places. So, in addition to serving as the City Librarian, I'm also Deputy Director of the Community Services department. The Admin Council meeting is the coming together of the folks who manage each of the aforementioned programs. It's interesting to me because I get to learn some about what goes on in the provision of City services with which I've never been involved before.
As soon as that meeting ended, I hustled over to the main Library's Reference/Circ group meeting that had already started. I love sitting in with these functional group meetings to hear what their day-to-day issues are. Plus, someone usually brings some tasty baked goods. Amy let me down yesterday but Amin brought some homemade samosas that were pretty awesome!
I next occupied myself with an assignment that had come out of the Admin Council meeting. Stockton has a new City Manager who came on three weeks ago and has, apparently, asked for overviews of everyone's current projects. I sat down to fire off a three minute email to my boss with the Library info and ended up writing a couple thousand words, I think! At least I've got plenty going on. I did, though, hear someone yesterday mention "putting something on the backburner". My initial thought was that I don't think I have any backburners; everything seems to be bubbling up on high heat right now (in a fun and exciting way, mind you!).
Another good chunk of time yesterday was spent between email and face-to-face conversations with one of our great IT folks, Bret, and one of the Library's superstars, Susan. We're basically working through two issues right now that are proving just a little sticky. Our very recent implementation of telephone notifications has a few bugs to work out and we're significantly changing how we handle fine and fees and the associated account blocking process.
Also, this Library, like many, has a large amount of uncollected debt (disclaimer: anyone who works in a public library knows that these large numbers aren't "real" but mostly represent the value of replacing materials that were never returned 1o, 15, 20 years ago). And, while another project going on right now between myself and the City's Finance, Auditor's, and IT departments is the development of a process for determining what debt is uncollectible so that it may be removed from the books, the other piece of that larger puzzle is improving the way we collect current fines and fees.
Working with Bret and Susan (because they're the ones with the technical know-how), I've decided to implement a fine and fee policy that, at first blush, sounds more conservative than one which I would normally endorse. We're going to try blocking any customer account that carries a fine or fee older than 30 days. Bret and Susan have determined that our ILS can do this by running a couple of reports back to back. My belief is that this will greatly increase the amount of fine and fee payments we receive though I'm absolutely going to monitor the effect this policy might have on overall circulation; I can imagine a scenario, driven by basic economic theory, that results in the "higher cost" of the Library leading to a decline in usage. Like any new policy or procedure, it's just something that will merit evaluation after a period of time. We have, also, just implemented the capacity for our users to pay fines and fees using debit and credit cards so we are doing our best to make paying fines as easy as possible.
I spent the last chunk of my day yesterday working at the main library's circulation desk. I was just passing by and noticed a long line of customers. I'm not quite proficient with Sirsi yet but I jumped in and, before long, felt like I had most of the common processes down well enough. This was a great reminder for me about why I started working in libraries in the first place. Working face-to-face with the customers is a blast and yesterday was no exception (even the part where the two circulation veterans working with me kept laughing at my ineptitude...). It's gratifying to see how often new customers walk through the door for their first library card and how many people just love borrowing from us what we have to offer. Circ desk duty is definitely something I need to do more of; no better way to understand the effects of policy changes than to witness first hand what happens at the point of service!