Hello Arlington neighbors,
If you followed the County budget process for Fiscal Year 2011, you know that July signals the start of the new fiscal year and new fiscal realities for Arlington Public Library. The budget for library materials in FY 2011 is 6 percent less than it was last year, and this reduction is in addition to previous cuts in FY 2009 and FY 2010.
Many Library users will notice and be affected by this year’s materials budget reductions. As much as we’ve tried to avoid it, the Library simply can no longer absorb the decline in materials funding by taking “a little bit here and a little bit there.”
Mass market paperback collections will soon be eliminated at all Library locations–
- Mass market paperback collections were introduced as browsing collections only–to supplement permanent library collections.
- The mass market paperback format is ephemeral–shelf life is generally no more than 1 year for these items.
- The majority of items purchased in mass market paperback format are also available in the Library’s permanent collections.
- Use of these collections has been declining for the past few years.
No new music CDs will be added to the collection in FY 2011–
- Declining use of these collections mirrors the decline in retail industry sales for music CDs.
- Downloadable/streaming music alternatives will be explored and piloted with Friends of the Library funding support.
Fewer titles and copies will be purchased of new fiction, nonfiction and children’s picture books; fewer replacements will be purchased for withdrawn copies–
- Waiting lists for in-demand titles will be longer.
- Copies will not be as readily available on library shelves.
Selected homework help online resources will be discontinued–
- Subscription to the canceled database will still be available to students through their school websites.
But there is some good news. too. Thanks to your participation and comments during the public budget process, the County Board restored funding to guarantee that popular periodical and newspaper subscriptions will continue to be available all eight Arlington Public Library locations.
And in coming weeks, you will see several new online resources that have proven to be very popular in other library systems.
What does the Library consider when making these choices? Collection decisions are based on a number of factors:
- Community interest in and use of library materials
- Evolving formats and technologies
- Professional industry standards and best practices
- Focus on the Library’s mission and goals
Collections decisions can be difficult ones. We recognize that they have a significant impact on our loyal customers, but they reflect the fact that the current reduced level of Library materials support means business as usual is no longer possible.
Library staff continue to welcome and consider suggestions for new acquisitions via the Library’s online suggestion form. Our customers are our best source of information about what is in demand at the Library. We appreciate your continued support and understanding, and the pride and passion for excellent Library collections shared by Library staff.
With all best wishes,
I am a lover of nonfiction but find that the library only has about 10-20% of the books I am interested in reading. (I can understand that no library can have every book but my previous library in Pittsburgh had a much fuller nonfiction selection.) When I do make suggestions, the common automated response is that the library is not able to purchase the book because it is not available to it. Why is that? I'm talking about books that are for sale on numerous websites. I would also suggest that the library make fewer duplicate purchases of books. Waiting for a book a little longer is a lot better than never being able to read the book. (I do buy books, but when it costs $30 and I'm only going to read it once if it is even worth finishing, can't buy everything I want to read.)
At Saturday's board meeting a resident talked about the loss of titles published only in paperback. If these titles are of value to the community, why get rid of them because the cover is paper? Books and reading are important for a library. Instead of fewer titles and replacements of books, you could cut down the number of copies of DVD's. Or use the money you're going to spend on streaming music and just point people to Pandora and the like instead.
The Librarians says
Lori – Sorry for your frustration. I suggest that you email the collections team and ask that directly – it's hard to give you an answer without seeing the specific titles and websites.Anonymous – The term 'paperback' should be clarified – we are only discontinuing our mass market paperback collection. These are the smaller paperback books that can be bought in drugstores or airports, and which are often shelved in spinners. 80-90 percent of these titles are duplicated in our hardcover and trade paperback collections. (a bit of related book trivia: the larger, trade paperback books – which we are not getting rid of – are often manufactured from the same sheets printed for hardcover editions, but bound in paper instead)
If the usage of mass market paperbacks has been declining in the past few years, it's not that surprising since a few years ago you changed it so that you can't place holds or transfer between branches like everything else. How about keeping the 10-20% of the mass market paperbacks that are not in the other library collections, and restoring holds and transfers? The savings could be 80-90% of the budgeted amount and the selection wouldn't be reduced. In your budget link, all of the materials cuts, including "eliminate popular paperback purchases", total $17,604 out of a 11+ million dollar library budget. Please don't reduce the selection of book titles (paperback or not) for the sake of 0.0015x of the library budget. And please don't imagine a need to "evolve formats" away from print. Books are perfectly fine.
As far as not buying replacement copies is concerned, can you put some numbers down (based on the last year, before these budget cuts) so the level of cuts are clear? Like: How many items were lost by borrowers, and how many were missing from the shelf, etc. Then, how many of each of these categories were replaced, and how are you changing these amounts? With the amount of money charged for overdue and lost fees, you should be able to replace items- if the book was good enough to buy, why should others not get to borrow it because someone else lost the item? This is particularly irksome when there's only one copy and meanwhile months go by. Once you charge someone, can you automatically place an order for a replacement when there's only one copy?
I agree with Anonymous about the mass-market paperback collection. I often check out these books – particularly mystery series that are not available in other formats. If the library could maintain a smaller paperback collection with only the books that are not available in other formats and make those books available to patrons for holds, it could save funds for the library without cutting a service for patrons.
I understand the need for budget cuts and am OK with most of what I have heard is being cut in terms of hours and materials (now that periodicals are restored to branches). However, with popular fiction, please continue to order the titles that inevitably will end up on The New York Times bestseller lists but just order fewer copies. I would rather have a book available and just have to wait longer to get it than to have to buy it (I own a Kindle but prefer to read library books when available). What really needs to be cut, in my view, is DVDs. Why were DVD collections not subject to any part of the 6 percent cut in library materials? I find that totally inequitable.
The Librarians says
Dixie – The popular fiction titles will definitely remain a core part of our collection.
The Librarians says
To Anonymous on July 19, regarding the question of replacement copies:Replacement of Library materials is an integral part of collection development, and is not done automatically. Titles that are missing or lost are evaluated for replacement by professional collections staff. Often titles are no longer in print, and not available from the Library's contract vendors. Sometimes a newer title on the same subject is a more useful and cost effective choice for the collection. Sometimes interest and demand in an area has waned, and a decision not to replace is made. Less than 2% of items in the Library's collection are Lost or Missing, and the process for recovery and/or final replacement decision can be lengthy. The wealth of community book donations to the Friends of the Library continues to be an valuable resource for library replacements. Volunteers regularly search for and locate titles on staff replacement lists–helping the Library maintain an active replacement program despite budget and staff reductions. The Library's online Purchase Suggestion Form is the best way to assure that requests for titles or subject areas not available in the collection are promptly considered. Single copies that are Lost or Missing are always candidates for replacement consideration, and purchase suggestions are reviewed and responded to on a regular basis.
Do the overdue/lost item fees charged by the library cover costs of replacement of the 2% of items that are lost or missing? I thought the purpose of these fines and fees was to restore the availability of missing materials in a timely fashion, not to generate revenue. In fact it would be good to see you propose in the FY12 budget that all overdue and lost item fees be dedicated to replacement copies for lost or missing items, or items overdue by a month or more. By the time you're charging $10 to a person or two, aren't you well on the way to just buying another copy? If you spend weeks and months before even getting around to investigating and deliberating about whether to replace the item, that takes away from time that users could have been reading and checking out a replacement copy. It also presumably takes away from your limited staff time that could be spent reviewing and acquiring new titles.
The Librarians says
In response to Anonymous' comment on July 31 -The purpose of library fines is to assure that Library materials are returned in timely fashion, so they are equally available to all of our users. Our borrowers accept individual responsibility for materials checked out, and replacement fees for lost items are charged in order to recover the taxpayer dollars that have been allocated for the Library's portion of the community's assets. But because the Library's collections are dynamic, missing items are not necessarily replaced with identical items. Library collection development staff continually review the collections to make sure that they reflect the most current and appropriate materials available to fit collection scope and meet the interests and needs of the Arlington community. If you think that the Library should replace specific missing items, please use our online purchase suggestion form, which is available to all borrowers for suggesting purchase or replacement of specific titles. All requests are reviewed and responded to.