The mission of the Heartland Library Cooperative is to provide to the citizens of the member-county service area enhanced access to library materials and library services which would otherwise be unavailable under current and anticipated funding. This cooperative venture will expand the quality and quantity of library materials to local residents by providing greater access to regional collections through shared technology and electronic access to information.
The Heartland Library Cooperative consists of five independent member county library systems; DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties. These libraries share geographic, economic, and social bonds. The region is largely rural-agricultural and has little in common with contiguous urban counties. Member residents are required to travel considerable distances for access to major population and urban areas. The entire member libraries have found it difficult under their independent system to provide for all of their patrons’ needs, hence the need for this cooperative.
These counties have entered into an interlocal agreement that specifies the governance of this regional library system and the relationship of the partners. Each county operates its library using funds from their local county commission, as well as a state aid grant from the State of Florida. A cooperative library grant allows citizens from the five counties to access more fully the resources of the region and to enable each participating county to more completely serve the needs of its patrons.
PLAN DEVELOPMENT AND ANALYSIS
In December, 2009, a committee consisting of three Governing Board members was appointed by the Board for the purpose of discussion of the Cooperative’s strengths and challenges. There were four primary considerations that were the result of these discussions upon which the Goals for the plan were selected and substantively developed. Foremost, the plan was to focus on better, rather than new services. Second, the Cooperative’s information technology infrastructure is extremely strong and well poised for a new dimension in library service. Third, the county libraries enjoy remarkable public support and affection based on their good reputations in their communities. Fourth, the Long Range Plan will be reviewed by the Governing Board based on reports by the Cooperative Coordinator.
STRENGTHS OF THE COOPERATIVE
The spirit of cooperation that is the core of all the Cooperative’s strengths;
The professionalism of the Cooperative Coordinator, the County Library Directors and all staff who are dedicated, knowledgeable, flexible and committed to fulfilling the vision of the Cooperative;
The Cooperative is always looking toward the future; ready and able to change and grow;
The Cooperative takes a leadership role in seeking grant funding for the benefit of the County Library members;
The Cooperative Governing Board is strongly committed to working together to provide services throughout the cooperative area, maintaining a focus on all the libraries to be served;
Access to Archbold Biological Station Library increases resources of a different nature to Cooperative patrons;
The County Libraries are active participants and respond to opportunities presented to them;
The Cooperative enjoys excellent communication among the County Libraries and their staff, supported by email updates and a cooperative email discussion list. Joint meetings of the Cooperative libraries are held annually;
The Cooperative coordinates training for the staff of member libraries;
The Cooperative manages its funding very well, based on sound and successful policies.
CHALLENGES TO THE COOPERATIVE
The Cooperative is affected when members of the Governing Board do not attend meetings on a regular basis; efforts should be made to keep all Board members engaged;
The Cooperative will be facing funding issues as the result of the actions of the State Legislature on the State Aid to Libraries grant programs;
The Cooperative needs to encourage the Tampa Bay Library Consortium to follow through with its plans for the development of patron initiated interlibrary loan services through OCLC;
The Cooperative needs to assure that collections are maintained at high standards;
The Cooperative must stay current with technology;
The Cooperative must assist the libraries in increasing patron visits regardless of decreasing local resources.
Goal 1 – Technology & Library Automation
Goal 2 – Cataloging Standards and Access to Materials
Goal 3 – Libraries and Their Communities
Goal 4 – Cooperative Staff
Goal 1, Objective:
The Cooperative will develop, implement and evaluate a program to enhance the use of technology by patrons in their requests for information and by staff in their daily work roles.
The member libraries of the cooperative are struggling in an extraordinarily fast-paced era of change, especially in the realm of technology. The knowledge and information base of society is growing at a phenomenal rate. The member libraries lack the trained staff needed to provide effective use of this information through the technology currently available and that is coming in the future. Our library patrons are also suffering from an inability to effectively use the technology provided by the libraries in their own jobs and homes. To improve service to our citizens, training for both staff and the public is essential. The Cooperative will continue to support the position of an Information Technology Trainer who will provide leadership, direction and training. The need for training is continuous and endlessly varied.
Utilizing an Information Technology Trainer, the member libraries have the ability to provide training in its most effective manner for both library staff and library patrons. We are also able to offer outreach, offsite training in the use of the informational technologies available today. The libraries recognize the instructional facilitation of the public’s forays into new informational technology blends well into the libraries’ mission.
The Heartland Library Cooperative has developed and adopted an extensive technology plan (appendix II) that describes public services, human resources development, facilities and equipment, administrative and support services, and community relations as they relate to the Cooperative’s goals and its technology resources. The Cooperative Coordinator, working closely with the Information Technology Trainer, is primarily responsible for carrying out the plan as it relates to public services, human resources development (training) and community relations.
In the fourth of a series of reports regarding technology access in U.S. public libraries, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research & Statistics (ORS) is highlighting how public library technology supports public access and use of e-government information and resources.
Among the findings from the national study are:
- 71 percent of libraries report they are the only source of free access to computers and the Internet in their community;
- 80 percent of libraries report providing as-needed assistance with e-government services;
- 61 percent of libraries report providing access to government information is one of the most critical Internet services they provide; and
Public libraries offer a number of training classes and/or as-needed assistance on a range of topics, particularly Internet use (92.8 percent), general computer skills (91.3 percent) and online Web searching (76.9 percent).
Continue to identify and provide the training needed for appropriate staff. (2010-2015)
Develop techniques and training so that designated Cooperative staff can troubleshoot and resolve more complicated PC related problems. (2010-2015)
Provide portable laptop computers for training and practice at member libraries. (2010)
Provide full-time trainer who will teach classes to the public at each library. (2010-2015)
Update Web-based training guides as supplements to software/hardware utilization manuals. (20-2010-2015)
Establish use of online (distance) instruction for customer service and staff development. (2010-2015)
Develop guidelines for patron service staff so that they know and are comfortable with what the Cooperative expects them to know in terms of technology. (2010-2015)
Provide for the purchase and systematic replacement of office desktop computer systems for use by the public and staff. (2010-On going)
- Site visits to training sessions
- Brief questionnaires
- Training session evaluation forms completed by staff
- Training session evaluation forms completed by community participants
- Statistical reports generated by Polaris, library automation system
Goal 2, Objective:
The Cooperative will establish consistent cataloging standards to be followed by member libraries for a controlled, shared database of library materials records. Patrons will have access to the information they need to locate resources in the member libraries.
The integration of bibliographic records for print and nonprint resources into Polaris (library catalog) is fundamental to serving the information needs of our library users. Standardized cataloging for all library materials allows access to both print and nonprint resources through common retrieval techniques. The application of internationally accepted cataloging standards to print and nonprint resources also ensures that characteristics unique to all items are readily apparent in bibliographic records. The growth of distance education and remote use of the catalog make it particularly important that the catalog accurately and comprehensively reflect available materials.
Full and standardized bibliographic description of library resources facilitates:
- A heightened awareness of the full range of information resources a library offers its user population;
- A consistent means for both the local and remote user of the catalog to search the entire collection through a single interface;
- Identification of material that represents a significant expenditure of library funds.
Establish cataloging standards for all bibliographic records entered into the Polaris database. (2010-on going)
Cooperative Coordinator will review bibliographic records entered in the Polaris database to assure quality, accuracy and adherence to standards. (2010-on going)
Provide Polaris software, updates and training so cataloging can be accomplished by member libraries. (2010-ongoing)
- Compliance with Cooperative established cataloging standards.
- Random sample of 20 records per library every six months at 100% accuracy.
Goal 3, Objective:
The Cooperative will collect information about the libraries and their communities.
The member libraries will engage in the process of discovery, of finding answers to such basic questions as: What kind of communities do our libraries serve? Who lives there? What do residents expect from the libraries? Information about our communities and their residents help library staff to understand what services may be needed. Information about our libraries helps us to understand how well our libraries are doing their jobs. The information collected will:
- Identify factors in the library’s environment that may affect the provision of services;
- Reveal community needs for library services;
- Demonstrate to community decision makers the libraries’s understanding of their services and their communities;
- Suggest possible library roles, goals and objectives.
Create a planning committee and identify library staff that will be responsible for gathering and assembling the information. (2010-on going)
Planning committee will develop range of information to be considered about the community and the libraries themselves. (2010- on going)
Planning committee will identify a focus for its information-gathering and will agree on the final list of information to be gathered. (2010) (See Sample Information Needs List below)
Original data collection will begin and will include surveys, interviews, library walk-arounds and community drive-arounds, and structured observation. (2010-on going)
Library staff will organize findings. (2010-on going)
Planning committee will conduct findings focus discussion. (2010-on going)
Summary report will be created that will serve as a permanent record. Report to be replicated every two years using updated information. (2010-ongoing)
How many surveys were returned (10% considered to be favorable return).Percentage returned out of number distributed.
|Information||Possible Source||Potential Use|
% under 5 years of age
%5-17 years of age
% over 65 years of age
|City and County Date Book||Check projected student population. Check current student population. Has senior population grown in the last 5 years?|
|Total registered borrowers||Library records||Get current + 5 years ago|
|% of community aware of various library services||Survey||Is the library well known? Do we need to publicize some services better?|
Turnover rate: our libraries
Turnover rate: other libraries
|How active is the collection? Comparisons with similar size libraries in state|
|Library circulation: adult and juvenile||Library records||Who accounts for what part of our circulation?|
|% of students who have visited the library: within the last month, within the last year||Survey (get data at the building level||Which schools account for most of our student use? How could we target a library/faculty relations program?|
|Ratio of additions to total library holdings||Library records||Help in diagnosing the currency of the collection|
Goal 4, Objective:
The Cooperative Coordinator will be a public librarian with the exceptional experience, flexibility, and vision to lead the Cooperative in providing high levels of service to the member libraries in the current economic climate and to help the Cooperative evolve to meet future needs and constraints.
The Heartland Library Cooperative is blessed with enthusiastic, service-oriented staff dedicated to meeting the needs of the member libraries and their patrons. The effective combination of right staff and the best technology has allowed the Cooperative to continue to provide outstanding service with minimal levels of staffing.
Upon the retirement of the current Cooperative Coordinator, the Board will actively seek a Coordinator with qualities, strengths, and professional background that meets the Cooperative’s particular circumstances. Or
Upon the retirement of the current Cooperative Coordinator, the Board will actively seek a high energy Coordinator who can create a compelling vision for the future of the Cooperative and can then lead the Board and the member libraries to achieve that vision.
Coordinator will be evaluated annually by Cooperative Governing Board.
County Population Statistics
The following statistics on each county in the Region are from the 2007 Florida Statistical abstract prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Florida (BEBR).
DeSoto: DeSoto County has an estimated population of 35,700 persons with a land area of 637 square miles, yielding a density of 56 persons per square mile. DeSoto ranks 47th in the State for density and 48th in population.
Glades: Glades County has an estimated population of 11,600 persons with a land area of 986 square miles, yielding a density of 12 persons per square mile. Glades ranks 66th in the State for density and 65th in population.
Hardee: Hardee County has an estimated population of 27,500 persons with a land are of 637 square miles yielding a density of 43 persons per square mile. Hardee ranks 52nd in the State for density and 51st in population.
Highlands: Highlands County has an estimated population of 103,700 persons and a land area of 1,029 square miles yielding a density of 101 persons per square mile. Highlands ranks 39th in the State for density and 34th in population.
Okeechobee: Okeechobee County has an estimated population 33,643 and land area of 774 square miles yielding a density of 42 persons per square mile. Okeechobee ranks 48th in the State for density and 45th in population.
|Local Revenue||State Revenue||Staff Expenditures||Collection Expenditures||Operating Expenditures||Public Internet Terminals|