Thursday, January 22, 2009

Executive director defends Library System

At the annual meeting of the Lancaster Library System on Tuesday, John Havrilla won Library System Board Vice Chair by secret ballot. No other positions were contested and Bud Rettew remains as Chair.

Susan Hauer, Executive Director, set forth a vigorous defense of the System's role and claimed many achievements in an address at the System's annual meeting.

She stated "Much has changed in the County since 1997. However, the Library System and the Member Libraries continue with the Federated Library System model developed in the 90's and used elsewhere in Pennsylvania, when Library Advocate Robert Bowman and other Commissioner Appointed trustees began to strategically plan for the provision of library services county wide."

"Used elsewhere in Pennsylvania" artfully suggests the System plus the fourteen independent libraries is desirable. A far more common approach is for all libraries and the System to be combined into a county authority. (NewsLanc has contended that a county library authority would be more efficient and better governed than the current fragmented confederation.)

Hauer describes "Every year an internal negotiated process occurs that leads to State Coded agreements, whereby the System and the 14 member, independent, municipality based local Public Library Boards agree on centralized provision of services from the System and District in exchange for being a member in good standing and willing to share resources through equal countywide access; similar to the IU 13 and the independent school districts."

Hauer rationalized the failure to pass a county wide millage in 2005 as follows:

"'So to recap why the 2005 referendum of a .25 (1/4) mil for library services almost passed but didn't-

• Some voters did not understand why the System needed $7 million dollars, when
the County was currently appropriating $2 million for the System.

• Some voters thought that this was a new tax for libraries when in fact; the County
and Municipalities in 2005 designated and appropriated $3 million in taxes from
their combined general funds.

• Some voters (and some library advocates) did not want the County tax to exercise
control over their local operations."

What Hauer doesn't mention was the folly of placing a funding measure on an off year primary when passage is least likely since such low turn out primaries draw mostly older and more conservative voters, as contrasted with presidential and senatorial general elections.

Hauer then sets forth the 2008 accomplishments of the confederation as follows:

"This past year saw the planning, implementation, continuation of valuable countywide
Best Practice services. Among them are:

• Healthy Lancaster County; a partnership to provide consumer health information.

• MarketEdge-a remake of business information emphasizing economic
development and a Certification Program on Competitor Intelligence.

• OverDrive-a downloadable audio and video service

• A Virtual Library centrally provided anywhere/anytime

• Tumble Books/Book Flixs -virtual book subscriptions for youth

• Special Service/BKM outreach-YIC, Brightside, Sterling place, IU 13 Alternative
Schools, Vineyard Personal Care Facility, Manor Care, Weis Market/Willow
Street, Shuts/Prison Library in addition to senior, head start, agency and
community stops.

• Express Lane Check-out

• Expanded Family Museum Pass

• Live Homework Help –over 1600 users, 60% came in the back to school push of
Sept through Dec."

Hauer emphasized "The Library System of Lancaster County, as always, is committed to accountability and transparency." Yet, when asked by NewsLanc for an electronic version of her comments, Hauer asked "Will you be making editorial comments about my address?" When told "Yes" she did not forward them.

Hauer's complete remarks and other interesting material from the meeting can be found at