Library Board Moves On Strategic Plan Request

Trustees approve obtaining proposals for updated plan.


For several months New City Library Board Trustee Ed Kallen has been asking the trustees to agree to get proposals for an updated strategic plan. As chair of the Planning & Policy Committee, Kallen warned the board it should not simply change the date on the existing plan but have one created that develops the library’s future direction.

Kallen said the library is required by state law to certify every year it has a strategic plan.  However, he pointed out all the New City Library Board has done is put the current date on the same plan for the past six years.

Kallen said the committee met on August 31 and agreed there were two options for developing a plan, basing it on either cost or need. He suggested finding out what other libraries pay for their plans to get an understanding of potential cost.  If the plan is based on need, Kallen said it would have to look at what the library needs to get it back on track and give consideration to the “undercurrent of staff dissatisfaction,” “inability to function as a board,” and various administrative vacancies.

“I think our foundation as a library has been substantially shaken,” said Kallen. 

He recommended hiring an independent professional to review the library from top to bottom. 

Although Board President Joe Reiter said he did not want to spend any money on a strategic plan, the six trustees at Thursday’s meeting voted to solicit proposals for the next meeting in October. Kallen asked Interim Library Director Marianne Silver to get the proposals.

Other board action included the congratulating employee Veronica Reynolds for receiving the 2012 Forty Under 40 Award from the Rockland Economic Development Corporation. Silver said Reynolds, who joined the adult staff in 2009, designed and created the library’s website.  Silver noted Reynolds convinced several staff members to become bloggers on the website and join various book groups. 

Silver said she nominated Reynolds because she uses her skills to make the community a better place to work and live.  Silver then presented Reynolds with a bouquet of flowers. 

The board did skip one item on Thursday’s agenda. Gail Seidenfrau, the head of circulation services, was supposed to give a report on her department but was not asked to present during the meeting.

Mary September 25, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I was really surprised that Ms. Reynolds received congratulations. The library's new website is very confusing and not easy to use.
Marianne Silver September 25, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I am acting director of the library, and I hired Ms. Reynolds three years ago. I feel I must address what is a common misperception about the library's website. Mary, you may be referring to the new library catalog that was launched in December 2011. It is a union catalog of the 47-members of the Ramapo Catskill Library System and is an Integrated Library System (ILS) that the members select as a group. Ms. Reynolds had nothing to do with the design of this commercial product. The website is a totally different entity. Through the efforts of Ms. Reynolds and other members of the staff, it is produced inhouse using an open-source, content management system (CMS) called Drupal that costs the library a nominal fee for hosting only. She has done us and the community a great service by exploiting this and other free, open-source software. Since the website is over three years old at this point, I can only assume you are not referring to it when you say "new." If you are having difficulty with using the catalog (or the website, for that matter), please feel free to call the Adult Reference Desk or stop by the library and we will gladly assist you. Thank you.
Pat Godfrey September 25, 2012 at 05:50 PM
You see where Ed Kallen is headed here. he wants to review present policies to get a new strategic plan. His question is to base it on "need or cost". Only a government agency can say hey don't matter the cost we have needs here. Everyone else has to stay within there means. Just doing the review will cost money. I wonder does he have someone specific to do the review? Maybe a friend or an organization that will be favorable to what he wants to do. Then he suggests several items that need to be addressed. One is "several vacancies that need to be filled" (more $), "under current of disattisfaction" (more $ or benefits), inability to operate as a board (who knows what he means but is probably going to cost more $ whatever it is). Mr. Kallen shows a lack of appreciation for what the New City residents are going thru. With regards to lower property values, lose of jobs, raising taxes and higher costs of living. He is I guess no different as any other bureaucrat in his indifferent and uncaring attitude toward the people who actually pay the bills for what he is looking to propose.
Robin Traum (Editor) September 25, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Marianne - Thank you for explaining the difference between the various websites. Robin
Marianne Silver September 25, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Mr. Kallen clearly displays his concern for the Clarkstown taxpayer when he stresses the need for a long-range plan. When properly executed, these plans provide valuable guidance in the areas of resource allocation, service priorities, and most of all, inform library administration of the needs of the community. Sect. 90.2 of NYS Education law requires that all public libraries have a "board-approved, written long-range plan of service;" with the tectonic change that public libraries are undergoing with regards to e-books, the internet, taxpayer fatigue, etc., it is more important than ever that we consider the direction we need to take. We do the taxpayer a disservice when we do not survey their needs and wants. The best type of long-range planning involves identifying community stakeholders, the leaders of the various demographic groups within our service area, and inviting them to join in on a conversation discussing the role and the future of the library. Having a professional consultant lead the process and keep everyone on track ensures that the task will be completed thoroughly and efficiently. Of course, finding the right consultant is a task in itself! I am a Clarkstown resident, too, so I understand your concern. But please consider it this way: any publicly-funded agency that takes your tax dollar should have an intelligent, responsible, written plan on how to spend it. Otherwise, they are just flying by the seat of their pants.


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