Crunching Cornwall Public Library Numbers – Is it time for change? by Jamie Gilcig

Crunching Cornwall Public Library Numbers –  Is it time for change?  by Jamie Gilcig

library numbers 2012 bCFN – Libraries are important.    Their uses are changing as time dictates technology and the public dictates demand.   With the cost of internet and cable being high for those on fixed incomes more and more people use the library to borrow DVD’s and use the internet.

The funny thing about presentations is that they are rarely if ever audited.

The City of Cornwall has its library in the heart of downtown taking up one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate.  The former post office is still in lovely condition and one of the nicest buildings in the city.

It’s annual budget, according to the library’s 2012 report  is a little over $2M.

The question is whether the public is getting value for those dollars?    Looking at their own numbers again the largest item is wages and benefits which comes out to 2/3 of the total.   That’s .67 cents out of every dollar.

The amount spent on actual Collections & Supplies?  About 1%.

Library Numbers 2012Likewise the utilization of space.   Nearly all of the top space on the ground floor is given to books which are in declining use while Internet space is still limited in units available and amount of time available.   The units are also older.

According to the library  13,020 members used their services in 2012 – that breaks down to $162.45 per member.

That’s quite an amount of money to be pumping out to each member especially as membership is free.

In these times especially it might be a good exercise to re-examine how our libraries are used and staffed.   Do we need as many actual librarians and their skill sets and cost if usage is shifting to video rental and computer use?  For example according to the Library’s UNAUDITED borrowing numbers  over 1/3 of usage is in borrowing  DVD’s and CD’s.    Do we need to support as much highly trained staff which eat up 2/3 of the operating budget?

Am I recommending moving or eliminating the library?  Heck no.   I just think that we need to focus more on what the public wants and needs and less on keeping staff numbers up.

Maybe we need to shift books to the library basement?   Maybe we need to cut back on library staff or gradually shift to lower priced staff or volunteers to help lend out dvd’s and cd’s?   Maybe if library staff weren’t as expensive the library could be open later on some days?

And maybe some of those dollars saved could be channeled into better computers that allowed users to spend more time?

Like any bureaucracy Ms Kiddell always will be seeking more funding.   That’s fine; but surely she should not be given continued free passes by the city when taxes are going up.   And surely the library would be a more attended and used place if it reflected more of what the community wants and needs instead of an antiquated vision of yesterday?

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to share some of that buildings space with an Art Centre in Cornwall which we are sorely lacking and with Mayor Kilger and Council committing available monies to the Benson Centre simply won’t be available for about a decade?

jg

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20 Comments on "Crunching Cornwall Public Library Numbers – Is it time for change? by Jamie Gilcig"

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Urban Commentor
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“According to the library 13,020 members used their services in 2012 – that breaks down to $162.45 per member” That is a lot of money is right per user for a free membership service. While it would be deeply unpopular, perhaps introducing a small fee through a membership card. It would slightly off-set the costs on the taxpayers. One may make the argument that such a membership fee would require people who use the library regularly pay twice for service, however since there are members of the community who pay taxes for the library and do not even use it,… Read more »
Al
Guest

Time to downsize, give the tax payer a break. Nearly everything
can be found on the internet for free.

Eric
Guest

Doesn’t look like Cornwall has caught on to the trick in Ottawa to inflate numbers. All users have to renew their card in library each year.
I can understand providing government journals and daily newspapers because of notices, but CD’s, DVD’s and movies takes away from private business.

Our high schools, (college or any university even) should be looked at to take over libraries, build a wing on sort of thing. Issues like school security, parking, staffing and types of material could be addressed easy enough.

jules
Guest
The libraries are run by the provincial government (remember Rae Days) and here in Ottawa we have at least 32 libraries to borrow from and the libraries are full of people. That is the difference here is that people who are educated have their kids to be educated and go to the libraries and this is done since the child is very young (like pre school). People who are really educated do not want their kids in front of the idiot tube that you call a TV. Getting ahead in life is what is important and the TV destroys people’s… Read more »
Simon
Guest
Hands off the library. A modern library is not just about books. A library is a focal point for community, it is a venue for meetings, it is an alternative to the inhuman and ridiculously termed “social media sites”. It is a neighborhood hub and respite from the stupidity outside its doors. And as for the educatioanal advantages… there are far fewer students masturbating in the library than in front of computer screens at home — no thanks to parents that won’t kick them out of the house to go crack a book at the library, and actually interact in… Read more »
Theo
Guest

Does the Cornwall library have self-checkout? The Ottawa library has that. Don’t need employees around all the time for self-checkout.

Eric
Guest
jules, I take exception to your comments which border on superiority. I have been able to use about 10 of the Ottawa libraries over the last decade or so, they are not full. The main branch downtown is very busy because of researchers, seniors and students using the free computers and newspapers. You would think around exam times students would fill the areas as well, but that is not the case. The whole library system in every town should be reviewed for effectiveness. Ontario has a courier service that moves books on loan from region to region everyday with a… Read more »
jules
Guest
Eric just about every time that I go to the library it is packed with people and that is in my area of Alta Vista. There are other libraries as well that are packed and the downtown one is always packed to the gills because of the universities who use them. It is a place of research. I will take the library over a computer any day and that is the truth. I cannot stand to read a book on a computer but I love to read a book in hand. Colleges and universities will not accept work from on… Read more »
Dawn Kiddell
Guest
I would like to provide a few points of clarification concerning Cornwall Public Library. 1. Free public library service is provincially mandated. We cannot charge for resident memberships or basic library services as described by the Public Libraries Act. This is intended to provide a level playing field for all Cornwall residents, not just those who can afford to pay. The library is allowed to charge for some things i.e. library fines for late materials, printing, room rental, and non resident memberships. 2. We are audited and accountable at every level. The public library undergoes an annual independent financial audit… Read more »
jules
Guest
The Cornwall Public Library has fees for those who live outside of the boundaries of Cornwall. Here in Ottawa with all the amalgamation there are no fees for example Orleans, Nepean, Kanata, etc. since they are all Ottawa and so much more. Our humoungous taxes pays for all of this and so much more. I wouldn’t trade the public libraries for anything since they are of great value to the public. Yes there are some good things on line but not everything can be taken at face value. I generally go y the books and then go and check things… Read more »
David Oldham
Guest
Costs of 162 dollars per member is quite simply to high for the taxpayer to continue to support. I do not have a problem with legislation which supports BASIC free access to resources. Publications, books these are basic resources that I am sure legislators were wanting offer to all without additional cost to users. While I believe that hard copy resources should remain loyal to the concept of free (nothing is free) meaning no user fee for this level of access, realism must enter the equation at some point. If individuals wish to access other forms of service which could… Read more »
jules
Guest

If we were to axe employees this would put a strain on the unemployment lines. We have self serve here in Ottawa at the downtown library but not at Alta Vista that I can recall. I like to deal with the people who are very nice and not with a machine.

David Oldham
Guest
JULES according to Dawn Kiddell there are 5 full time and 1 part time that consume 68% (71% via city sources?) of the allocated monies for the operation of the Cornwall library. In the grand scheme of things 6 more bodies really has little impact on the system (employment insurance payments have far less impact on the taxpayer than the actual salaries and benefits currently being paid out by the same taxpayer) the impact unfortunately is felt by the six bodies themselves who would have to find new jobs/career. If we continue our demands on the current system in place… Read more »
jules
Guest
Mr. Oldman I do see your point and I am asking how many librarians “the ones with the degree” are there in Cornwall. I am not talking about the one that puts your books through the system. The ones with the degree make the big money and they take the biggest chunk of the system. I don’t know how many “library clerks” that there are in Cornwall but when we lived there there were a number of them. At our Alta Vista Library there is “one degree” librarian and maybe one or two who have college and the other staff… Read more »
David Oldham
Guest

JULES i hear and agree on the amalgamation issue (I grew up in the former NEPEAN which was a debt free city).

The comments by DAWN KIDDELL Chief Librarian, Cornwall Public Library refer to 2 professional librarians and 3.5 library technicians as the current staffing.

Could Cornwall manage with one professional librarian and 4.5 library technicians? No doubt this is probably being considered by the responsible Cornwall Council budget committee members.

jules
Guest
Mr. Oldman 1 professional librarian is more than enough for Cornwall and even for each of Ottawa’s libraries is more than enough. You are right indeed about that. The higher salaried person(s) is the one taking the biggest chunk out of people’s taxes. Mr. Oldman so you grew up in Nepean and the mayor at that time was the very best mayor going maybe even for the entire province of Ontario. Nepean was debt free and when they amalgamated with Ottawa and all the rest of them the taxes shot up beyond belief. Kanata is the most debt ridden section… Read more »
jules
Guest
The libraries are the most important on my list and even if I had to pay a little extra in fees I would do just that. Yes the taxes are humoungous and don’t we all know. I cannot read a book on line but only things that are short enough to read. There is nothing like a good book in hand. One librarian is enough and if the machines have to be used to check out books then so be it but people will be without work. Take a good look at our education system and health care system at… Read more »
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