Chevy Chase Library Snapshot:
16 Dec 2004, 10:30 AM

1 librarian at the info desk with a patron in hand
2 librarians at the circulation desk, each serving a patron, with 3 persons in line
1 librarian in the back
2 volunteers sorting and loading the cart to re-shelve books
1 person looking over the video collection
1 person at the FOL bookrack
at least 1 person at the internet computers
a family of four (three preschoolers) stamping the due dates in a stack of children’s books
28 cars in the parking lot

Chevy Chase Library
Some informal stats:

We have 200 hours of info staff and (at the moment) 160 hours (with 2 p/t vacancies, otherwise it would be 200) hours of circ. staff to cover 54.5 public service hours--and someone is always at a meeting, training, on vacation or sick leave or providing a program. This translates to five or six people in place most of the time the library is open.

We had 69.4 people come in per hour in FY03. Customer to staff ratio is more than eleven to one; however, the staff are also doing housekeeping jobs, not just customer service.

Training and collection maintenance (the gardening work, if you will, on keeping the materials fresh, and in order) have suffered the most over the lean years. As time goes by we have less and less flexibility to even think outside the box, much less respond proactively to library needs.

Volunteers do sorting, shelving, book repair and other jobs once reserved for staff or vendors. This means uneven quality of work, no surety of hours, no leverage to control the output of any job undertaken. Volunteers only do what they want to do.

From our in house flyer:

Did you know…?

What if we don’t get enough funding?

Global effects Local
Chevy Chase and other branches lose ground: Staff shortages/ lapsed positions, underfunding at the administrative level impact the service at the counter.

Public Services, Development, Tech Support, are all areas where having no one on the ground means discontinuity at the branch level.

Metrics are not kept up to date and in an easily digestible form--it is harder to do long or short term planning or to access the effect of policies without hard numbers to compare.

Tech Support is essential for long range planning and solutions to short term problems. An example that has only recently been addressed: When patrons reserve books or ask that materials be sent to their local library for pick up, the program that requests the “holds” does so from an "ownership" list that is in alphabetical order. First it looks for the book at Aspen Hill Library. If it is not available at that branch, the program moves on to the Bethesda Library and then on to Chevy Chase. This sounds logical but each time there is a request, the program starts over at the beginning of the ownership list. The result of this is that Chevy Chase staff processes from 50 to 100 “holds” a day--three hours of staff time for the person doing them. It is an obvious inequality that could have a simple solution (pulling books from the branch nearest the destination library) if there were enough people at the Admin. level to pursue the change. The amount of work would be the same but the workload would fall more equitably across the system. SIRSI has developed a better system for entering the ownership of new materials as of 4 April 2005 but it is unclear whether this will rectify the problem in the older collection materials.

Development When an “urban” library was first proposed for Silver Spring several years ago, there were seven or eight possible properties to use for it– many owned by the County. As the renewal of that area has progressed, the number of viable sites has dwindled to one. And that piece of property has a parcel in the middle of it that belongs to a developer who bought it after the site was proposed for the library. The selection process may have been hampered by the lack of a Public Service Officer who could keep the ball rolling within the department.

Collection Management There are four foreign languages supported in the adult collection— Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish and Chinese. These represent the most numerous populations in Montgomery County but there is a large Ethiopian population in the Silver Spring area (Amharic), a large Vietnamese population (French as well as Vietnamese), a Haitian population (French, again) and sprinklings of Cambodian, Filipino (Spanish, Tagalog) and other ethnic groups. The library has actively recruited and certified speakers of many of these languages but has no money to maintain collections in them. The Chevy Chase Library sees quite a bit of use in its Spanish and ESOL materials. Why? Because the yardmen, handymen, nannies, gardeners, roofers and other “service” people are often new immigrants. Fully funding this year’s budget would allow the department to add French back into the adult collection.

Technology Management At Chevy Chase usage for the Internet terminals runs 60% or more all the time; during busy times they can “flip” a catalog terminal to internet or vice versa but at Long Branch Library, where the usage runs closer to 100% at peak times there are lines and long waits. “Flipping” doesn't shorten the wait there because they have heavy demand for the catalog terminals, too. The Library department uses software to manage computer usage which is restricted to one hour per day per patron.

prepared by Paulette Dickerson 16 Dec 2004, modified March/April 2005




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E-Mail: "pdickerson (at)"
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