Feb. 15 - All libraries will be closed for Presidents Day.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho....
... it's off to work we go!
2016 has come roaring in, and we're in the thick of it, gearing up for expanded hours in April. You may remember, our first task is to recruit and hire 26 new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.
Right out of the 2016 chute, we worked to advertise and post open positions. Our social media postings reached more than 6,500 people. People were "liking" and "sharing" the news all over the place. And the responses we received were encouraging:
- “This is how you know the recession is finally ending.”
- “I would so LOVE to work at the Public Library!”
- “It’s actually happening…I am in awe.”
On January 12, in partnership with the county's American Job Center, we held a recruitment fair to offer applicants the chance to learn about JCPL, meet with staff and get their questions answered -- and approximatey 150 people attended.
The job postings closed on January 18, and we were astounded at the results. More than 1,300 people applied, and when we screened for qualifications, more than 500 people met the criteria!
Needless to say, we are now busy interviewing, working to make sure we get the best possible people for the job. We hope to complete the hiring process in the next few weeks, with a target start date for new associates of March 7. That will give us time to provide training and coaching for the new folks so they're ready to serve patrons effectively when we expand open hours in April.
It's enormously gratifying to see so many people who want to work for the Library. I have to echo one of our applicant's comment: It's actually happening, and I am in awe!
We're Looking for a Few Good Men and Women
Happy New Year! At JCPL, we're off to a roaring start as we ramp up to launch expanded service hours in April.
Beginning April 4, service hours at JCPL’s larger libraries (Arvada, Belmar, Columbine, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood and Standley Lake) will expand from 51 hours a week to 65 hours a week. That means open hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5.p.m. on Sunday. Hours at JCPL’s smaller libraries (Conifer, Edgewater, and Wheat Ridge) also are expanding and final schedules will be announced in March.
Our first task it to recruit and train additional employees. Nineteen new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions will support expanded hours at all ten JCPL libraries. An additional seven positions are in support areas, including Administrative Services, Employee Relations and Development, Facilities, Finance, Information Technology. Both full-time and part-time positions are available.
The Library is partnering with the American Job Center to hold a Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12, at the American Job Center, 3500 Illinois St. in Golden. Interested parties are encouraged to attend to learn more about the Library’s open positions. In addition, they may view available positions and apply online through January 18 at jeffco.us/jobs.
We're looking for friendly, innovative, creative people to join the JCPL team. If you know of tech-savvy folks who value great customer service and love helping people connect, discover, and create, please pass this information along.
It's an exciting time to be working for the Library!
Planning for 2016 and Beyond, Part Two
I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We did! In fact, we're right in the middle of planning expanded library services that will deliver on the promises we made to voters, and we’re enormously thankful for that opportunity!
Last week, we presented an amended 2016 budget to the Board of County Commissioners. It includes initiatives we expect to implement in 2016, based on the additional revenue approved by the voters in the recent mill levy election. Here's what the additional revenue will allow us to do:
- We expect to expand hours at all JCPL Libraries. Our larger libraries (Arvada, Belmar, Columbine, Evergreen, Golden, Lakewood, and Standley Lake) will go from 51 hours a week to 65 hours a week. That means open hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 9a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Our smaller libraries will offer longer hours as well. It will take us some time to implement the longer hours, as we need to recruit, hire and train additional staff before we do, but we plan to begin the expanded schedule April 4.
- We expect to invest $5.9 million in books and materials. This is an increase of $2 million when compared to 2015, and it should make a noticeable difference in the availability of high-demand materials.
- We'll begin updating technology by installing more than 100 updated public access computers as quickly as possible, expanding bandwidth and wireless access points at our libraries and updating critical infrastructure.
- We'll begin to catch up on delayed capital projects (parking lots, HVAC systems and other pent-up demands), and we’ll begin to plan for future building refurbishments, beginning with the Columbine Library in 2017.
- We'll begin planning for expanded library services in South County; and
- We'll begin to recharge our savings so that we can pay cash for future big-ticket items.
At the Commissioners' request, we have submitted additional detail on our 2016 amended budget, including business cases for all major initiatives and capital projects. There will be a final public budget hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the County Administration Building, at which time, we hope the budget will be approved.
In the meantime, I'd like to commend our Board of Trustees for their leadership and oversight. They are committed to meeting the needs of Jeffco residents while ensuring responsible spending. They’ve confirmed that commitment in a letter they recently submitted to local media, and I’d like to share it with you:
Dear Jeffco Residents,
As Library Trustees, we were thrilled with the recent positive election outcome. It’s gratifying and humbling to see the value you place on libraries and the trust you place in us. Your support of 1A will enable us to:
• Expand library hours;
• Provide more books and materials;
• Update technology;
• Repair and refurbish buildings; and
• Stabilize library finances.
We look forward to giving Jeffco residents the services they want and deserve. However, we won’t try to do it all at once.
As Library Trustees we have a dual fiduciary responsibility: first, to provide a responsible level of library services, and second, to serve as effective stewards of taxpayer funds. We take these responsibilities very seriously.
When we resolved to go for a mill levy increase, we committed to restoring Library services, while monitoring the Library’s budget to assure responsible spending.
Rest assured, we intend to keep that promise.
The Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees
Brian DeLaet, Chair
Julia Hill Nichols, Vice-Chair
John Bodner, Secretary
We are lucky to have such a balanced approach to library services. And we can’t wait to get started!
Planning for 2016 and Beyond
I have to admit, it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that we actually passed a mill levy initiative in Jefferson County! After so much hard work and so much suspense, it’s hard to shake off the past to envision a new future for JCPL.
But what a wonderful challenge to have!
As we plan for 2016 and beyond, we're working to restore Library services and make JCPL all that it can be.
What will that look like? Here are some things you can expect:
- We'll do a briefing on our revised budget to the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners this week, and we anticipate final approval in early December.
Once the budget is approved, you should begin to see the following service improvements in 2016:
- we'll start investing in more books and materials as quickly as we can;
- we'll begin replacing our oldest public access computers as quickly as we can;
- we'll work on expanding service hours at all 10 libraries, with the goal of launching new hours on April 4; and
- we'll continue to catch up on capital projects throughout the year.
Other initiatives may take longer. For example:
- we'll begin a measured plan to repair and refurbish Library buildings, beginning in 2017; and
- we'll begin to plan for enhanced library services in underserved areas.
Over the next few years, we'll focus on improving our service levels. As we've disclosed previously, our performance on key service measures has fallen. In our latest benchmarking study, we found that JCPL ranked at or below the 25th percentile on key performance measures when compared to library peers. As we plan for the future, we'll work to get those rankings up -- to the 50th percentile and higher as we go forward. We want to give Jefferson County residents access to resources and services befitting a 21st century library, and put JCPL back on a path to excellence.
We're very excited about our future, and I can’t tell you how much I look forward to walking down this path to excellence with all of you!
A New Day for JCPL!
Yesterday, we learned that Jeffco voters approved a mill levy increase for the Library, our first in 29 years.
Tomorrow, we'll begin the work of restoring library services and giving Jeffco residents the services they want and deserve.
Today, I want to take a minute to acknowledge all of the wonderful people who helped us get here:
- First, thanks to more than 5,000 library patrons and Jeffco residents, who weighed in to help us imagine a future for JCPL;
- Our Citizen's Advisory Committee, who reviewed the Library's challenges and made thoughtful, unanimous recommendations to the Library Board;
- The Library Board of Trustees, who reviewed our community input and voted to launch a mill levy initiative;
- The Board of County Commissioners, who resolved to place the initiative on the ballot;
- The Jefferson County Library Foundation and Friends, who supported us every step of the way;
- YesforJeffcoLibraries campaign donors, who helped the Library's campaign committee launch a successful campaign;
- Dozens of campaign volunteers, who worked tirelessly to raise money, walk neighborhoods, phone prospective voters, speak to community groups, deliver yard signs and campaign materials, cheerlead for us and offer endless encouragement and moral support;
- Library employees, who maintained their unswerving commitment to patrons, despite multiple years of budget cuts, layoffs, reductions in service and more;
- And finally, our library patrons, who support and uphold us and give us a reason to keep striving, even in our darkest hours.
We are enormously grateful for your passion, your interest, your civic-mindedness, your friendship and your support. The bonds of camaraderie that have brought us here will carry us forward into this new day, one in which we'll be able to fulfill our community's shared vision of library services - and become the library we know we can be.
I look forward to working with all of you as we walk hand-in-hand into this new day.
Adding Value through Inclusiveness
Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.
Libraries were built on a foundational principal: that everyone deserves equal access to information and opportunity, without regard for differences in age, ethnicity, income level, education level, physical or mental capacity, political affiliation, or any other demographic.
At JCPL, our core values include serving our patrons with care and creating a welcoming environment for all. We recently launched a system-wide diversity campaign for all employees, to ensure that we understand and value diversity, continue to enhance our cultural competencies and provide relevant resources to our diverse populations.
We're doing this because Jefferson County is a culturally rich community, with representatives from every segment of the population. Here are some recent stats*:
- A third of Jeffco Schools' students are characterized as minorities: 25 percent are Hispanic; three percent are Asian Pacific; and the remaining five percent represent a number of other ethnic backgrounds.
- Ten percent of our population speaks a language other than English at home.
- Nearly 20 percent of our residents are 60 years or older, and that population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
- Nearly 10 percent of Jeffco residents are living with a disability -- and that increases to 31 percent for those aged 65 or older.
- Nearly eight percent of residents in the civilian labor force are unemployed.
- A third of Jeffco Schools' students qualify for free and reduced lunch. This indicates that they are living near or below federal poverty guidelines.
- Nearly 900 residents are homeless, or living on the brink of homelessness.
The numbers tell one story. Our experience tells another, far more interesting one.
If you walk into our libraries, you'll see that story come to life, with all of the color and gravitas that it entails. You'll see every demographic represented, and staff who are dedicated to serving them. In addition, you'll find programs and resources that offer exciting insights into the amazing and vibrant character of our community.
Here's an example:
This photo is of one of the members of Grupo Tlaloc, a danza Azteca group, who performed at four of our libraries during Hispanic Heritage Month. Grupo Tlaloc is the first and oldest group of its kind in the Denver area, promoting 35 years of educating, performing, and understanding of the native culture of Mexico and the Native American way of life to our community.
They were awesome! And they are just one example of the panoply of resources we have available. You should come check them out.
At JCPL, we value and embrace diversity because it's the right thing to do. And in doing so, we make our own lives incredibly richer.
* Sources: Jeffco Schools website, American Community Survey 2013, Jefferson County Aging Well Project, Point in Time Survey 2013
JCPL: Changing Lives, One Person at a Time
Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.
It’s not every day someone says, “You changed my life!” But that’s exactly what Charles Armstrong is saying about Jefferson County Public Library and the librarians at the Lakewood Library.
Charles moved to the Denver area about five years ago. When we met him, he was an out-of-work steelworker struggling to find employment. He came to the Lakewood Library seeking help with his job search.
The Library has dozens of resources available to job seekers, including online resources such as Job Now, programs offered in partnership with the American Job Center and others, and most important, personalized assistance from trained librarians. Library employees are skilled at helping Jeffco residents develop resumes, apply for jobs online, post their cover letters, resumes, training certificates and other materials on targeted job sites, and more.
One of the employees who helped Charles was patron experience associate Lindsay Masciotti. In an effort to get to know him better, she asked him to tell her about himself. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he hailed from Alabama and shared what he missed the most: “Grits! You just can’t find good grits in Colorado!”
Touched by his personal story, Lindsay suggested he insert some personal details into his cover letter. Charles followed her advice and shared his love of real grits, how steelworkers have grit, and how that grit makes him the perfect candidate for a steel working job. Over the next few days, Charles interacted with a number of other Lakewood Library employees who helped him navigate the job search process.
Shortly after posting his information on steelworker job sites, Charles began to capture employers’ attention. The next day, he had an interview, and shortly thereafter, a job offer. He accepted! At this point, Charles has moved to Cincinnati to help build buildings and bridges.
Library employees help thousands of people every day, but we rarely get to see (or hear) the results of our efforts. In this case we did. Charles called to thank us for the help, and you can hear his message here.
This kind of direct personalized attention from trained professionals is one of the things that sets us apart from Google, Yahoo and other Internet resources. As they say in our business: "if you Google the word Librarian, you get 72,300,000 results in 0.78 seconds. When you speak to a Librarian, you get personalized attention from a trained professional who will help you find just the information you need!"
JCPL Sweeps County Customer Service Awards
I feel like a proud mama this morning!
Last Monday, I had the privilege of attending Jefferson County's Champion Awards celebration. To kick off Customer Service Week, Jefferson County celebrated Everyday Heroes by honoring 10 employees and/or teams who exemplify customer-service excellence.
A record number of Library teams and employees were nominated for awards this year, and we had three of the 10 winners! I hope you'll join with me to congratulate them. I've also included excerpts from their nominations.
Library 2 You
Transformational customer service defines and describes this team that was just formed in July 2014 and has gone above and beyond reinventing how they approach serving customers outside library walls. They do an outstanding job in bringing library services and resources to patrons through their bookmobile service, home services to patrons who do not have the ability to be mobile and are home bound. They also serve patrons of all ages at family stops, serve over 600 senior patrons in senior and assisted living centers in Jefferson County, and serve incarcerated patrons by taking the bookmobile to the Federal Corrections Center. The team has seen a 46 percent increase in circulation of their materials from last year, doubled the number of volunteers who assist Library 2 You, and eliminated isolation of seniors through an innovative Dial–A-Book Club initiative.
The Golden Library Remodel Team
Last summer, the Golden Library was closed for 12 weeks for an extensive remodel. The question arose – how do you provide Library services to the community when your building is closed? Through the dedication of many JCPL staff, led by Library Manager Carroll Mannino, services to patrons continued with:
• Story times at the Golden Community Center
• Adult Book Group meetings at a local Starbucks
• Teen Advisory Board and DIY Explorers Club meetings at Golden High School
• Young Readers Club meetings at the Astor House
• Bookmobile visits (pick up and returns) in the parking lot of the Golden Library.
The preparation and coordination of moving these events to other locations was huge. Golden Library staff jumped in and helped when needed; those assigned to other Libraries during the closure accepted their new assignments and locations with enthusiasm. When it was time to re-open the Golden Library, staff was on hand with the HUGE task of restocking the Library with a new collection. Through their efforts, we were able to maintain key services during the closure, and we now have a beautiful, state-of-the-art Library for all to enjoy.
Librarian Sean Eads
There are many things Sean does – but specifically in the technology assistance and the individualized customer service arenas. Example: a patron asked if they could have the Sunday New York Times magazine when we get rid of two month old newspapers. Every month Sean makes sure to get it out of the recycle bin and saves it for the patron. Sean is also the go-to guy for difficult-to-solve technology questions from patrons who bring an incredible variety of electronic devices in with no idea of how to use them or what they can do. His patience with these patrons is outstanding.
I also want to acknowledge others who were nominated: The Columbine Library Operations Team and employees Janell Kerski and Polly Tagg.
Our employees have been through tough times. When Library revenues were reduced, they watched nearly 100 fellow employees lose their jobs. We now have one of the most leanly staffed libraries in the nation, and all of our employees have taken on extra work to cover for the employees we lost. And yet they remain cheerful, professional, and passionate about serving patrons well.
Congratulations to the 2015 Customer Service Champion award winners and all Library nominees!
I'm busting my buttons!
Library Services on the Move
Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.
One of the little known facts about Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) is that our reach extends well beyond our ten libraries. We also deliver important outreach services via our Bookmobile.
- The JCPL Bookmobile provides bi-monthly visits to 45 senior retirement and assisted living facilities to deliver books and other materials to seniors who can’t get to the Library.
- The Bookmobile also visits inmates at three correctional facilities: the minimal security camp of the Federal Corrections Institute Englewood located in Littleton and both the men’s and women’s facility of the Intervention Community Corrections Services program (ICCS) in Lakewood. Twice a month, inmates at these institutions have access to Library materials and reference help for educational development, personal interest, and recreational viewing and reading.
- Since 2014, JCPL has been providing weekly Bookmobile service to South County residents. We've known for some time that South Jefferson County is one of our most underserved areas. The Columbine Library (7706 W Bowles Avenue in Littleton), was built in 1989 to serve South County residents, but since then, the South Jeffco population has more than doubled. Since we can’t afford to build another library in South Jefferson County, we’re offering bookmobile services as a stop-gap measure. Every Saturday, from 12-4 p.m., the Bookmobile visits the Safeway parking lot at Ken Caryl Ave. and Shaffer Pkwy, where patrons can access some of our most popular services: checking out and returning materials; placing and picking up holds; and finding information about library services. The collection holds more than 2,000 items for people of all ages in a variety of formats—books, DVDs, and audiobooks.
Library access for many Jeffco residents is limited by location, access to transportation and library hours. The Bookmobile allows us to extend our services outside of our physical buildings; in fact, the bookmobile receives over 10,000 visits and checks out over 40,000 items annually.
We’re grateful to be able to offer these services, and our patrons are grateful, too. Here's a comment we received from one of our Senior Bookmobile patrons: "My name is Pam Bliss. I am a Senior (87 years old). Bless Jefferson County Public Library. The Bookmobile service at Willow Glen Complex is my lifeline to books. With no transportation, or the ability to walk in winter conditions, it is greatly appreciated!"
We're quietly providing value person by person, in and out of libraries, every day. That's what library service is all about.
Libraries: Myth Versus Reality
Every now and again, we run into someone who thinks that the Internet has made libraries obsolete. This is one of the great urban myths of our time!
If you’re not a regular library user, you may not see the value of libraries. We see it on a daily basis. Jeffco residents access our services millions of times every year to teach their children how to read, support educational and career development objectives, look for work, build their businesses, engage with current events and stay engaged through our Senior outreach services.
- Libraries are perceived as a valuable community asset. Two-thirds of survey respondents said closing the library would have a major impact on their community; and a third said it would have a major impact on them and their families.
- There is continued demand for library services. Forty-six percent of all Americans (ages 16 and over) have visited a library or a bookmobile in-person in the prior year, and 22 percent have used library websites. Between use of library websites and in-person visits to libraries or bookmobiles, half of all Americans ages 16 or older have had been library users of some sort in the past 12 months. Additionally, four-out-of-five Americans say they have used the library at some point.
- People are using the library to meet important personal and community objectives.
- Twenty-seven percent of those who have visited a public library in the past 12 months have used its computers, internet connection or Wi-Fi signal to go online.
- Among those who have used a public library website or mobile app in the past 12 months, 42 percent have used it for research or homework help.
- For those who have used a public library’s computers or Wi-Fi signal to go online, 60 percent have used those tools for research or school work.
- Approximately 23 percent of those who have paid a visit to a library in the past year did so to look for or apply for a job. In addition, some 14 percent of those who logged on to the internet using a library’s computer or internet connection in the past year did so to acquire job-related skills or to increase their income.
- Sixty-six percent of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they borrowed print books, 42 percent asked the librarian for help, 53 percent used the library as a reading or studying locale, and 16 percent of library users in the past year have attended a meeting there.
- The Library continues to provide a safety net for minority, low-income and disenfranchised populations, especially in offering access to technology and jobs.
- Thirty-eight percent of African Americans who have used the library in the last 12 months have used the computers, the internet or Wi-Fi there, and 28 percent say libraries help “a lot” in the job search and workforce skills arena.
- Thirty-two percent of Hispanics have used library computers, the internet or WiFi, and 34 percent appreciate help with jobs and workforce skills development.
- Thirty-one percent of those living in homes whose annual incomes are $30,000 or less have used these online resources at the library, and 26 percent utilize the job search/workforce development resources.
As John F. Kennedy said, "The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
If you've heard this urban myth and wonder about the future of libraries, we'd like to highlight some truths about JCPL. Over the next few weeks, I plan to showcase some of our high-value services (and impacts) and bust this particular myth, once and for all.