Nesmith Library Board of Trustees
*Tuesday, August 22, 2011
Present: Trustees — Mark Branoff (Chairman), Carolyn Webber (Vice-Chairman), Norman Boutillette (Treasurer), Mary Lee Underhill (Assistant Treasurer), Patricia Barstow (Recording Secretary), Karen Marcil (Corresponding Secretary), Peter Tousignant
Director — Carl Heidenblad
Assistant Directors — Diane Mayr
Call to Order:
This special meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order at 6:35 pm. The minutes from the August 16, 2011 special meeting of the Board of Trustees were accepted without change.
GMILCS: Amherst handles about five to six hundred items coming and going, on average per month. The process used for GMILCS borrowing is far easier than that for inter-library loans, which are all recorded by hand. GMILCS returns would get checked in just like our own books and a receipt would be printed out. Everything that needed to be transported to a different library would go into the same box; the van driver takes care of sorting. Within the library, the workflow would be essentially the same.
We could get our data into their system in a matter of a few days. During the transition, we’d run our current system until we’re entirely comfortable that the new system is functioning properly; then we would cut over. This would give the opportunity for staff to see a feature on the old and new systems simultaneously, which would help in their training.
Carl and Kevin French, the GMILCS technology librarian, have examined our infrastructure and concluded that our data line will support the software and that FairPoint has no choke point on our line. We would simply need to purchase a couple of receipt printers at $300 to $400 apiece.
Monthly GMILCS meeting attendance would extend to our Board of Trustees when there are particularly thorny or expensive issues to discuss. Staff participation at meetings would be expected frequently and regularly. A staff member or members would serve as liaison(s) for a set period of time and would participate during work hours.
Mark has two concerns, the van and Sunday hours. He is concerned about the decrease in state funding for van service and the possible financial ramifications to member libraries. Carl thinks this is not an insurmountable problem as he feels that GMILCS is in a good position to negotiate with the state library. The financial burden borne by member libraries would be minor. Mark is also concerned about increased traffic on Sundays since we have Sunday hours and surrounding member libraries don’t. He doesn’t want to overtax our facility or staff. Carl doesn’t want to increase staffing on Sunday so this will have to be monitored. Viewed from a different perspective, this would give us an added opportunity to fulfill our mission of inspiring, empowering, and enriching the lives of readers of all ages.
Peter feels that, if we join GMILCS, it should be accompanied by great fanfare. The Nesmith Library should get top billing on the Polaris and GMILCS web sites saying we’re the newest library.
How would we get out of GMILCS if we’re not happy? No one will like every single feature of the system but the libraries involved have been very happy with it and no public library has left GMILCS since its inception. The only libraries that have left have been academic libraries. This is a serious commitment because if we decide to join GMILCS, we’re agreeing that we’re going to work with the software system and with the consortium. If we couldn’t afford it at some point, GMILCS would release us or even support us. Moving backwards from such a powerful system would be very awkward. The most difficult part of pulling out would be that, once we give the power of the Polaris software system to the public, they are going to want it.
When Carl was researching automation systems prior to the acquisition of our current Follett software system, this invitation to join GMILCS was nowhere on the radar screen. It is a golden opportunity that just showed up. When we talk about making real improvements, sometimes we have to put our money where our mouth is. There are a variety of ways to work it into our budget and it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. Carl doesn’t know of any single decision we could make that would improve our service so much in terms of both borrowing ability and expertise. For our dues, we would get a fully-maintained $350,000 automation system together with the services of a full-time system administrator and technology librarian. Our collection would essentially expand from 88 thousand items to a million and our patrons would have borrowing privileges at every member library.
A motion was made that the Nesmith Library join GMILCS, Inc. subject to a maximum entry fee of $17,000, payable over a two-year period.* The motion was made by Peter and was seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
* See the memo from Carl Heidenblad dated July 25, 2011.
Trustees’ Meeting: The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 beginning at 7:00 pm.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:26 pm.
Draft subject to approval
*Special Board of Trustees Meeting