So, we've filled up on turkey and football, spent time with friends and family and had a few quiet moments to think about the things we're thankful for. Now it's back to work, and I'm reminded how lucky I am to be working for a library.
The list of things I'm thankful for would fill the stacks, so let me just name a few:
I'm grateful that I come to work every day with such wonderful people. Library employees are a special breed. They're here because they believe in the promise of libraries -- equal access to information and opportunity for all. They step up day after day and go the extra mile minute by minute to help our patrons find what they need. I am blessed to know and work with them.
I'm grateful for our Board of Trustees. They help us navigate the choppy waters of declining revenues and increased service demands, and they do it gracefully and well. They give unstintingly of their time and talents, and we are lucky to have them.
I'm grateful that the work I do has meaning. Every day, I hear stories of how we actually change people's lives. Patrons use us to give their children the best possible start in life, to help them succeed in school and learn critical job and life skills; they use us to stay abreast of evolving technologies, find employment, build businesses, and participate in public life; and in later life, they use us to stay connected to the world of people and ideas. On any given day, I can walk into the Library and see these transformations taking place, and I am unbelievably grateful for that.
I'm grateful to the Jefferson County Library Foundation and Friends. Their sole mission is to raise money to support Library programs and services, and each year they contribute more than $150,000 to JCPL. That money helps us to deliver early literacy programs and services, invest in technology, and stay afloat in these tough economic times.
I'm grateful for the more than 2,400 library volunteers who help us achieve our mission. They help us in the libraries; they help us with public relations and advocacy; they staff the Foundation's fund raising events and book sales (not a trivial task, by any means), and more. This year, they've contributed nearly 15,000 hours of service to JCPL, and we still have month to go!
Finally, I'm grateful for those of you who subscribe to my blog; who take such an interest in the Library; and who offer your time and support to JCPL.
Meister Eckhart once said, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." So, to all of you, happy thanksgiving, and a prayerful "thanks" for everything you do for JCPL.
Teaching Deaf Children How to Read
Roughly one in 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with severe to profound hearing loss, and these children risk experiencing delays in language, speech development and reading skills. Teaching these children to read can be challenging.
At JCPL, we strive to make the gift of reading available to every child. We work with children to make reading fun, and we offer parents and caregivers tools and resources they can use to help their children learn to read. Following are examples of the kinds of programs we provide.
Coming Soon: Gateway to Reading. This workshop, offered in partnership with Gallaudet University, Austin Community College District, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and Rocky Mountain Deaf School, will present effective book sharing techniques as outlined in The 15 Principles of Reading to Deaf Children. Topics include: why reading is important, how to use sign language to share stories, reading while not knowing all the signs, and keeping American Sign Language and English visible while reading. You don't need to know American Sign Language to benefit from this workshop. Registration is required – please email Deborah.Dauenheimer@jeffcolibrary.org no later than Friday, Nov. 29. Sign up today!
- Belmar Library
Thursday, Dec. 5
American Sign Language (ASL) Storytimes. These special storytimes, presented orally with American Sign Language support, give hearing impaired children the opportunity to interact with others, acquire important pre-reading skills, develop their cognitive abilities, and communicate more fully with the world around them. Jefferson County Library Foundation is currently raising funds to support ASL Storytimes in 2014.
Help us give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today!
Taking Early Literacy on the Road
One of our priorities as a library system is to provide literacy resources and experiences to the residents of Jefferson County, with special attention to the needs of children from birth to five. In many cases, we are the only place where new parents can bring their children to receive this type of support.
We are passionate about this! As I mentioned in my last blog, we host thousands of early literacy Storytimes every year, for tens of thousands of children who come to our libraries. However, in many cases, it’s children who don’t get to the library who need these services the most.
Our Traveling Children’s Library delivers books and programs to children in Head Start and other low-income preschool classrooms. Through bilingual storytime visits and the delivery of supplemental books in English and Spanish, the TCL provides these children with greater exposure to books, reading and stories. And thanks to the Jefferson County Library Foundation, every child in these classrooms gets to take home a book of their own.
If you believe in the mission of our Traveling Children's Library, you can support it through our Foundation's year end appeal.
Give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today!
Halloween Storytimes at JCPL
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Every year at the Lakewood Library, children attending baby, toddler and preschool storytimes come in costume. At the end of storytime, they trick or treat with Library staff.
It’s a happy parade! The children have a blast, while learning to love books and the Library. The parents stand by, doting and taking pictures. And we're graced with a refreshing break in the day and a potent reminder of why we're here.
So, why do we offer these storytimes?
We know that more than 90 percent of brain development occurs when children are between the ages of birth and five. We know that reading aloud to babies and toddlers promotes positive brain development and delivers important pre-reading skills. And we know that many children in Jefferson County - especially those from economically challenged areas - don't have books and are not read to at home.
That's why we hold thousands of storytimes every year, to give our youngest residents the best possible start in life. We work with parents and caregivers, too, to give them tools they can use at home to help their children become good readers.
Now, we'd like to do more!
The trick for us is to extend storytimes in as many ways and places as we can - in libraries, in preschool and daycare center locations, in multiple, diverse communities, and with particular attention to children with special needs.
You can help us achieve these goals by donating to the Jefferson County Library Foundation's year end appeal, which launched this week. Monies raised go to support storytimes and other literacy programs at JCPL.
The treat in all of this is the satisfaction of helping to build the next generation of successful and productive citizens in Jefferson County.
Help us give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today.
Staffing Changes at JCPL: A Sneak Preview of Things to Come
At JCPL, we’ve been busy envisioning a whole new library service model for Jefferson County, one that:
- Begins with a deep understanding of the communities it serves;
- Provides fresh and engaging library materials that reflect the evolving interests of our communities;
- Increases the availability of high-demand materials, so that people coming in are able to find and check out things they want without having to wait;
- Provides access to evolving technologies to support our patrons, communities and Library operations;
- Provides expert staff who can help patrons navigate the increasingly complex world of information and technology;
- Creates a rich, interactive online library experience, 24/7;
- Offers engaging and impactful programs that contribute to positive community outcomes;
- Creates a warm, open and inviting environment where residents can come together for community interaction and exchange;
- Strengthens outreach initiatives; and
- Leverages the power of community partnerships.
While our vision is complete, the full implementation of this new service model will take some time. As always, we’re required to balance our unlimited potential with our limited resources. However, while that can be challenging, I’m confident we’ll find our way.
In the past few months, we’ve introduced a whole new staffing model. We’ve redefined the roles of library employees so that our community gets the best possible response to their information needs, and our residents get the best possible value from their tax dollar.
We’ve moved many of our staff into new jobs, accountabilities, and/or locations and created robust training programs to help them meet the information demands of the 21st century. Key changes include:
- New roles designed to enhance the patron experience and improve operational effectiveness;
- Enhanced opportunities for growth and professional development;
- More cross training, so that more employees can respond immediately to patron needs;
- Enhanced technology training, so that staff can assist patrons with the increasing variety and complexity of devices patrons use to access information;
- Enhanced opportunities to tap into staff expertise, through web content creation, program development and customer service;
- Greater expectations for community engagement and outreach; and
- A sharpened focus on outcomes and results.
While much of this has gone on quietly, behind the scenes, some patrons have noticed that a favorite staff member may have changed jobs or locations. Not to worry; I predict you’ll soon find new favorites as we go forward.
We are working to create an environment where we delight and surprise our patrons with new levels of service excellence. We’ll be implementing more pieces of our vision and sharing our accomplishments as they unfold. But for now, I want to applaud our staff for their creativity and courage in embracing this change.
As ever, they are working diligently to make your library experiences better and better!
The Power of Partnership: Helping Kids Learn to Read
One of the Library's strategic priorities is to make literacy tools available to everyone in the County (and especially to children from birth to 5 and their caregivers). We know that children who enter school ready to read tend to perform better in school, have higher graduation rates and achieve more success in life than children who don't. We'd like to see every child in Jefferson County begin kindergarten with the basic skills they need to be ready to read.
We offer robust literacy tools to children and their caregivers through Library Storytimes, our Traveling Children's Library, and specialized computer programs in the children's areas in our Libraries. Now, we're working to extend those services through focused outreach and partnerships.
Here's an example. Recently, we partnered with Jefferson County Human Services to help them create a “Read to Your Kids” book corner in Room 110 of the Human Services Building. (Room 110 is where citizens come to complete paperwork for assistance, and they often bring children with them.) We're providing posters and brochures with tips for parents on how to help their children learn to read, as well as fliers advertising our Storytimes.
This is a perfect opportunity to deliver information about the importance of reading to children to at-risk families in Jeffco. It gives the children something to do while their parents wait for appointments, and it gives parents concrete ideas of how to help their children.
Here are before and after photos of the project:
Thanks to Jeffco Human Services for the opportunity to extend our services to families in need!
Have you ever wondered what the library does with the books that people aren’t reading anymore? We “weed” them. It sounds like a gardening activity, doesn’t it?
Actually, it is a bit like gardening. We take out old materials to make room for new, so we can keep our collection healthy and relevant.
Weeding in libraries is an ongoing research project that produces a menu of decisions. The first decision is the easiest one. If the information in the book is out of date or if the book is dirty, water damaged or falling apart, we discard it. That leads to the next decision, which is deciding whether we should replace it or order a more current book on the subject.
We at JCPL are lucky because our operating system allows us to create reports that tell us how many times a book has been checked out in a stipulated time period – the last month, the last two years, the last five years and so on. That allows us to get rid of things that no one is reading and make room for newer items our patrons want.
If an item hasn’t been checked out in our stipulated time, it becomes a candidate for weeding. We then check to see if the book is one that is fundamental to the subject and should be retained. If the answer to that is yes, we then check to see how many of our libraries have copies of it. If there are other copies in the system, we then decide how many we think we need, based on circulation trends, subject matter and archival value. This same process applies to other materials like DVD’s, books on CD and multiple copies of bestsellers.
So, what do we do with the books that are weeded? If they’re in good condition, we give them to the Library Foundation to sell. This is a good thing because the Foundation uses the funds from the book sales to support library programs like the Traveling Children’s Library and our Summer Reading Club. If books are in poor condition, we recycle them. We try to ensure that we handle all weeded materials responsibly – from both a financial and environmental perspective.
It’s been a while since JCPL has conducted a comprehensive weeding project, so in the coming months, we'll be reviewing our collection and weeding unused or worn out materials to make room for new high-interest materials. This should refresh our collection, improve the availability of high-demand materials and reduce wait times.
I believe you’ll be delighted with the results.
Library Budget Update
It's that time again...
As dependable as taxes, Summer Reading Club and back-to-school nights, our budget season seems to roll around earlier and earlier every year.
As we think about our budget, we remain committed to our long-term vision: to maintain our current level of library services and continue to make progress on our strategic initiatives in 2014; and to restore hours and services, introduce a new library service model, and expand in underserved areas as quickly as we can.
In 2013, we faced some significant budget challenges. In late 2012, we learned that property taxes revenues were coming in below original projections. This created a gap between revenues and expenses and forced us to cut costs for the fourth consecutive year. While we were able to further reduce administrative and other costs, we couldn't close the gap completely without further reducing staff, hours or services, and no one had the appetite for that! Instead, for 2013, our board elected to use $600,000 from savings to support operations, to maintain a reasonable level of service and give us time to investigate options to secure the library’s future. Needless to say, this is not a sustainable model.
Now, we’re planning for 2014. In early August, we submitted our 2014 budget to the County. I'm pleased to report that we were able to balance revenues and expenses so that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we won't have to use savings to support operations next year. We'll also be able to maintain current service levels. We'll know for sure in late November, when final budgets are approved. Later this year, we’ll be working with our Board to look at the cost of restoring services and achieving our long-term vision so that we can plan for 2015 and beyond.
You can find detailed information about the Library’s 2013 budget on our website. We’ll post details on the 2014 budget once it has been approved.
Support the Jefferson County Library Foundation
Tickets are $65 (or $250 if you want to race in a Z28 Camaro on Thunder Mountain!) You'll enjoy hors d'oeuvres, dinner, live entertainment, and silent and live auctions. More importantly, you'll get the chance to support literacy and education in Jefferson County.
Proceeds from the event help to fund children and teen literacy programs at the Library, such as Summer Reading Club and the Traveling Children's Library. Here's what your ticket really buys:
To reserve tickets, contact Natalie Martinez at 303-403-5075.
2013 Strategic Initiatives Update
August already! We're extending Summer Reading Club activities, gearing up for fall and heading into our 2014 budget cycle. It's time for a mid-year review of our 2013 Strategic Initiatives. Here's what we've been doing:
We're updating our collection of materials to better align library resources with patron demands, and patrons seem to be responding. Year-to-date our circulation is up nearly three percent!
We're working hard to enhance our digital resources. We launched a new website in April to create a digital branch, and more and more patrons are accessing library services via jeffcolibrary.org. In June, we began offering eReaders for check-out, to give Jeffco residents a chance to interact with new technologies. And since the beginning of the year, we've added more than 12,000 new eBook titles.
Another strategic priority is to provide information and resources to support early literacy. So far this year, we've provided nearly 1,750 early literacy storytimes to more than 48,000 participants. We also work hard to encourage children to keep up their reading skills over the summer. We're busy with Summer Reading Club, and we'll have final statistics by mid September -- but our librarians can attest to the popularity of this program!
We've also made great progress on the design and implementation of a new library service model for Jefferson County, with plans to update nearly every element of library service, including library materials and resources, programming, staffing, outreach, facilities and more. Our goal is to fully implement the new service model in one of our libraries some time next year.
It's been a busy time. But, stay tuned. There are more exciting things to come!