Tuesday, October 02, 2007

James Olney, Assistant Director of a suburban library

On July 23, 2007, James Olney, assistant director of the Northport-East Northport Public Library was the guest speaker in Carol Simon's class. James has a background in economics and business. He recommends taking an internship-trainee position in the library you want to work in. Select people with the same ideals that you have yourself. He has two Masters degrees: Library and Business.

The library is in the town of Huntington with 36,000 residents who use the library heavily. It is composed of two buildings in a supportive community. A building project is a great opportunity. Northport was to have a new addition built for expansion. East-Northport was a whole new construction project. There was a mile and a half between the two buildings. There is an $8.7 million budget.

James has been working at this library for 22 years with experience in every department. He is now in the computer services department. They run their own fiber lines to connect the two buildings. They employ six full-time programmers. They maintain the menuing systems, control the computers and desktop publishers. They publish posters. The library has its own Wi-Fi service. They use no Internet filters, though they can provide filters for children of parents who request it.

There is a cafe in the library that stocks food, ice cream, coffee, latte. When you run the cafe yourself, then you get the profit. The library is open 12 hours from nine to nine. At first they contracted the food service. After three contractors, they decided to run it themselves.

There is an active teen program with outreach through MySpace with great photos and with 169 friends. The library also uses Upcoming to announce musical events.

The library also has its own security service. Previously the security was also contracted out. They are not uniformed, but they have tags. All staff wears employee badges. The purpose of the security is to maintain order, assist in the closing, and escort staff to their parking spots.

The train station is next to one of the library buildings, with a park and playground nearby, which brings up other issues. The town park closes at dusk. There have been incidents with illegal drugs. They had to have the pay phone set to only allow outgoing calls. A police squad car is stationed at the library lot all night. There is also a police officer on a bicycle in the park. There are security cameras in all public areas.

Having the train station so close to the library led to the Read-Ride-Return program.

There are 175 employees at the library. Salaries and benefits make up almost 70% of the library budget. There is always a fund raising component at libraries. One project was a courtyard. It was necessary to reach out to have the community reinvest $150,000 in itself. The community is more than willing to help because the librarians are so committed to the community. The completed courtyard was dedicated last fall (2006). The courtyard has a covered area, so it is used even in the rain. There are tables in the courtyard. In the courtyard, there is also a statue of the Little Prince ($20,000) to honor Northport as the birthplace of the Little Prince (photo of statue).

In planning for things such as the courtyard and the cafe, the library used surveys and focus groups. The cafe's having a fireplace was one item that came out of the focus groups. There was also discussion of a statue of a bear, called the library bear (picture in link).

A report was commissioned to place an economic value on the Northport - East Northport Library found it to be an excellent value in the community returning $3.30 for each $1 of taxes invested. In addition, the study determined that the library brought business into the area. The report reads, "Long Island earnings increased by almost $3.7 million and approximately 91 support jobs were created throughout the Long Island economy." It also reads, "The library has become an access point for state-of-the-art technology and a magnet for community gatherings and activities." The Northport - East Northport Public Library mission statement is also available.

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