The Woodland Public Library has in June modified its visual, statistics chart to accommodate its surging circulation, which that month easily surpassed this chart’s prior ceiling level of 30,000.


In all, library circulation has roughly doubled since 2002. The library has self-check-out features, which are currently handling about 19% of this volume.


Displayed on such a visual diagram, as a year-over-year presentation, the library’s elevating circulation figures are of a nature that would well satisfy annual dividend expectations of economic investment portfolios.


Challenges commensurate to such patronage, and all it entails, are quite substantial for library staff and its governing board, as well as for the city council.


One illustration of this condition is that within its recent, strategic planning session, the library board designated, “Diminishing (lack of) space,” as the most serious internal weakness of library operations. Ranked as the most serious external threat was, “Diminishing funding.”


____    Strategic Planning Process    ____


Categories of internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats were analyzed and articulated by the library board through a portion of its strategic planning process.


Strengths were identified as:  the library’s collection, staff expertise, building, Literacy Program, Friends of the Library, large potential undeveloped space, positive relations with community and city council, in-demand product – information, stable board and a committed director.


Weaknesses were identified as:  diminishing (lack of) space, process inefficiencies, high-maintenance building, underserved teenage demographic element, coordination with various programs, fiscal accounting in literacy business, approaching staff retirements and bilingual collections.


Challenges of a positive nature were noted as:  increased public needs resulting from recent closure of local bookstore, increased public needs due to difficult economic times, demands outpacing supplies, connections to schools, Measure E, new technologies and products, scheduled expansion (2011 – 2016).


Challenges of a negative nature were noted as:  diminishing funding, diminishing interest / use of printed materials (as related to internet, etc.), sprawl of city inducing reduced accessibility, competition for funding tied to political climates, potential staff reductions due to inadequate funding, and the local 25% school drop-out rate creating legions of non-readers.


____    Highest Priority Project Selected    ____


Coincident to its recent strategic planning session, the library board in a detailed tour examined and evaluated the library building’s resources related to the urgent need for added space, as well as other interests.


Then, at its meeting of August 4, 2008, the library board asked itself the question: “What one thing can we do now [in the best interests of the library]?


The answer provided to this question was the library board immediately advancing an intention to finish construction and occupation of a huge room on the ground floor at the library’s southwestern corner — left undone because of funding problems during the 1988 expansion of the library. The library is due to be again expanded (by 10,000 square feet) at a time between 2011 and 2016, predicated on the library’s existing allocation of development fees and Measure E funds.


This undeveloped room is about 2000 square feet in size (55’ by 36’), adjacent to the library’s Leake Room, and opening upon its interior plaza / courtyard. Potential uses for this new space include creation of various areas for proliferating computer users (thus restoring traditional uses within the library’s lobby space), and designation of a special area for teenagers, grossly underserved within the library’s present configuration.


Matters relevant to this new project will be formally presented to the City Council on its agenda for September 16, 2008 [See August 30 edition of Yolo Sun News Report on this item].


____    New Draft Mission Statement    ____


Another prominent decision was made by the library board, in its creation of a draft revision of the Library’s mission statement:


“The Woodland Public Library endeavors to serve as the primary information resource to all segments of the community by providing a current and comprehensive variety of printed and electronic materials along with professional librarian guidance and assistance in order to ensure free and efficient access to information, to support and stimulate education, and to increase community awareness, integration and interaction.”


____    Big Gains in Summer Reading Program    ____


Immense gains in participation by children were made in the library’s 2008 Summer Reading Program (“Catch the Reading Bug”). Increased outreach was a key to achieving such stunning results. Librarian Sandra Briggs describes that library staff, “made a presentation at an assembly in every elementary school in the district and distributed flyers to every child.”


At last year’s kick-off event for this program (a two hour period of the first day wherein, “children are encouraged to pick up their reading bags, instructions and supplies”), 84 children were registered. In 2008, 354 children were registered in the kick-off, with overall participation being 751, including 63 teens. 102 teenage volunteers assisted “during program and preparation days,” according to Briggs.


“Summer reading programs are the hallmark of children’s services in public libraries,” explains Briggs. “In addition to offering fun and constructive activities for children and youth during summer vacation, research has confirmed the educational benefits, including preventing the erosion of reading skills and promoting literacy.”


“Special programming traditionally augments Summer Reading, providing education and entertainment as well as building community,” relates Briggs, “and there were six programs throughout the six week period that were attended by 1,051 individuals. Programs featuring Bohart Museum and Alex the magician were duplicated, thanks to the flexibility of presenters and performers in order to accommodate demand.”


Briggs expresses that, “library staff is thrilled with the enthusiastic response,” and also commends a “quality of staff service that brought individuals back repeatedly to browse the library, check out books and media,  use public access computers and ask reference questions. Tremendous progress was made in supporting and sustaining educational achievement and in building community.”


____    Community Building    ____


“Building community, being a center for reading and a destination point, the city’s living room,” are of primary focus for the library. “Libraries have a remarkable function,” exclaims librarian Briggs during the board meeting, alluding to the pivotal social importance of such institutions. Andrew Carnegie had very significant reasons for his sponsorship of a series of libraries across the United States, of which Woodland’s edition is California’s oldest operative display.


Demographic trends were noted by the board, related to approaching expansions of both children and retiring “boomers,” while also reflecting on the library’s surging circulation and hugely successful outreach programs. “It’s astounding,” remarked a board member. “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this yet.”


Space becomes the crucial, limiting factor relevant to sustaining and enhancing library services in the midst of these challenges, believes the board; thus, its emerging emphasis on finally completing construction of the library’s long-latent lodgings, remaining from its 1988 expansion.


Another library patronage builder will likely be new road signs, at eastern and western ends of town and in its middle, announcing the presence of the Woodland Public Library. These signs will cost about $5,000, to be funded from the Library’s portion of Measure E money. Such signage is conventional within many communities.


____    Resource Allocation Evaluation    ____


The library board was concerned, as part of its strategic planning process, with understanding and addressing an anomaly identified through a resource allocation profile of library patrons. While receiving 10.5% of expenditures for materials during the 2007-08 fiscal year, circulation was only 2.6% for the Spanish and English-as-second-language categories.


Materials expenditures for children, by contrast, were 18%, with circulation being 37%; while, for adults the comparison was 79% of expenditures and 61% of circulation.


Another item of interest conveyed by the resource allocation evaluation is that teenagers are sorely lacking equivalent space for their demographic profile. While almost 12% of the local public, they have only – 139 square feet – committed to them, within the 25,350 square feet of the library. Children, comprising about 20% of the public, have more than 10% of library space dedicated to their use (2785 sq. ft.).


Adolescence is a very challenging time of life, well deserving of community resources and support, a priority item in the present context, believes Librarian Briggs, which is why she conceives of a teen-oriented library department within this proposed expansion into the library building’s now vacant 2000 square feet.


____    Staffing Changes    ____


Departures of several more recent hires for shelving and desk coverage have created staff reductions which may temporarily remain, be absorbed, indicates librarian Briggs, who declares her commitment to “a long-range staffing plan that is both efficient and effective, maximizing the potential of all staff and providing opportunities for growth and development.”


Previous flexibility with staff work-hours and scheduling has evaporated with these lower staffing levels, reports Briggs, referring to a new, more consolidated format, wherein a staffing overlap is usually available to handle the after-work type of rush-hour (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Job classifications within the library are being examined and adjusted, she added, along lines of best satisfying library goals.


On the topic of evolving toward a better staffing format, the library is increasing its use of an “automated acquisition” system for its materials, initially focusing on the fiction category because of its relatively simple cataloguing facet. This means that staff time can be more productively applied, than individually attending to installing all of the various labels on materials, which will rather be received in a processed condition that allows immediate shelving and use.


____    Literacy Program    ____


The library has now hired Sue Bigelow for a 3/4 time position as Literacy Coordinator. She briefly appeared before the board at its August 4 meeting to respond to questions regarding the library’s submission of a semi-annual report by its Literacy Program to the California Library Literacy Service.


This report reflects quantitative results of a process of various “Roles and Goals” being selected by participants in the program. Adult learners could set specific goals within several categories, such as “Family member” where goals may be:  writing checks / paying bills, reading health education information, planning nutritious meals, helping children with homework and sharing books with them, interact with schools and teachers.


In the “Life-long learners” category, adult learners may strive to:  learn the alphabet, read various materials, write a letter, type on a computer, use email and the internet, get a library card, pass all or part of the GED exam.


For the “Worker” category, participants may set goals like:  finding jobs, filling out job applications, writing resumes, job interviewing, job retention and promotion, reading work-related manuals and obtaining licenses and certificates.


Adult learners in the “Community member / citizen” category may choose to gains skills to:  access community services and resources, speak to others about the Literacy Program, get involved with community issues, obtain a drivers’ license, prepare to vote / vote, and become a volunteer.


This current report to the statewide organization generally reflects success with most goals set by program participants, with many specific goals achieving 100% success, measured as how many adult learners who set a particular goal actually accomplished it.


Cumulatively, 123 adult learners participated in the Literacy Program from January through June of 2008, of which 117 returned their reports.


An agreement has recently been reached whereby literacy services will be provided according to local jurisdictional boundaries. Woodland residents will receive services through its library, while services for students outside the City will be provided by Yolo County.


Donations to the Literacy Program have made possible, among other things, the formal retention of Bigelow as its coordinator. $6,500 has been received from Yolo County Literacy Council, $5,000 was donated by Van Loben Sel/Remberrock Foundation, $2,500 has been received from United Way, and $1,000 was recently donated by Woodland’s Sunrise Rotary for program materials.


“Adult one-on-one tutoring, inmate literacy and the No Barriers program for developmentally disabled adults have been the primary, direct service points, recently,” outlines Briggs. “The Strength Through Education Program (STEP) has recently been launched with 39 residents at the Wayfarer Center.


Bigelow indicates that at any particular time, about 30 prisoners incarcerated at the Monroe Detention Center are enrolled in the Literacy Program, with 10 inmates recently receiving their GEDs.


In addition, Bigelow describes that many of the homeless folks who frequent the Wayfarer Center have recently adopted a – “sense of ownership” – attitude with respect to the library, where they spend key time, especially during the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Woodland Public Library’s longtime Reference Librarian, Carol Davis, related that there has been a significant reduction in need for police calls.


Librarian Briggs recalls the situation of a proliferation of various sorts of garbage around the library during the previous springtime season. She began going out during the morning hours to pick it up, and was soon greeted by local homeless folks, who volunteered to help, beginning to take regular responsibility for completing this task.


____    Other Items of Interest    ____


The Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary has donated $1,000 toward the procurement of large-print books, and there was discussion of a relevant shelf-plaque to express the library’s gratitude.


Exterior renovation of the library is now about complete, coming in under budget (how much precisely, is yet to be determined).


Woodland Public Library Reference Librarian, Carol Davis, has been awarded the American Library Association Pass Scholarship, and out of state travel has been approved.


Book clubs, story times and tours (including two separate adult education tours) are continuing. Also, 120 persons attended a family program for Spanish-speakers through Yolo County Office of Education.


During the latest 3 month reporting period, there were almost 8,000 uses of the library’s public access computers, for a total of 6,752 hours. Improvements have recently been made in the computer usage format, automatically providing optional, 10 minute increments of added time above 60 minutes, up to a total of 90 minutes per patron per day.


A monthly calendar of library events was begun in May, receiving much positive community feedback.