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ODL Director's Report

August 24, 2001 ODL Board Meeting Minutes

It has been a fairly quiet spell since our last meeting. A number of initiatives that have been in the planning stages for the last several months are coming to fruition. These will be the focus of my report.

Strategic Plan. The legislature is requiring state agencies to complete a strategic plan and submit it with their budget request this year. ODL had done a strategic plan approximately six years ago that the Board had approved so we have had some experience with this type of planning.

The strategic plan requirement from the state included a number of elements that all agencies complete. ODL hired a consultant, Susan Ferguson, who met with ODL Office Administrators over most of the year to discuss opportunities and challenges that ODL faces in the next five years. As a result of those meetings, we developed a revised mission statement that we will be submitting to you for your approval. We also have a vision statement, values and behaviors, goals and objectives, and action plans. You’ll find this material included in tab f. The material was presented to the ODL staff at a meeting on July 11th for comments and reactions. The next step is presentation to the Board for your discussions and suggestions. Following Board action, the plan will be submitted as part of the agency’s budget request to the governor’s office, the state Senate, and the state House of Representatives.

Public Library Directors’ Council Retreat. One of the major constituent groups for ODL is public libraries. The larger public libraries and public library systems meet bi-monthly in the Public Library Directors’ Council. In early August, the Public Library Directors’ Council held a two-day planning retreat at the Belle Isle Library in Oklahoma City. There were thirteen libraries or library systems represented (Enid, Ponca City, Elk City, Bartlesville, Stillwater, Ardmore, Eastern Oklahoma District Library System, Southeastern Public Library System, Tulsa City-County Library System, Pioneer Library System, Metropolitan Library System, Southern Prairie Library System, and the Chickasaw Regional Library System) and the executive director of the Oklahoma Library Association. The focus of the retreat was developing funding sources for public libraries for the next one hundred years. The facilitator for the retreat was the state librarian from Missouri, Sara Parker. Sara has been the state librarian in three states and is very knowledgeable about the legislative process, alternative-funding sources for public libraries, and strategic planning.

The meeting was very productive. The new director of the Metropolitan Library System located in Oklahoma county is Norm Maas. Norm was formerly the director of the Saginaw Public Library in Michigan. Michigan launched a funding initiative for public libraries about eighteen months ago. Norm provided the background for the reasons for the interest in Michigan and what the current status of the imitative is. Donna Skvarla and I next presented an overview of the current funding situation in Oklahoma for public libraries. We used a number of maps to make the information more understandable. You will find copies of some of these handouts in this packet under tab c. I will distribute the maps at the Board meeting. I also provided information about the proposed reform of the Oklahoma tax system. Sara Parker then spoke about the current situation in funding public libraries across the country and her views on the viability of some of the options.

The group believes that it is imperative to develop new revenue sources for future growth. Almost half of the public library systems are frozen at their current level of ad valorem support and cannot seek additional increases because of constitutional caps on the millage allowed. Another factor is that in some areas the assessed valuations of property are falling so the libraries’ actual income is declining and the libraries are unable to seek additional funding. In some areas, the opposition to the property tax is very strong and makes the potential for future millage increases unlikely even if legally possible. The independent community libraries that rely on general revenue from their municipalities are also facing static budgets and some declines in budgets. The balance of the retreat was then spent on developing a timeline for future action and desired outcomes.

One of those outcomes is included in our budget request for new monies. It is a request for a one-time appropriation to fund the purchase of pre-school age books for every public library along with programming funds to do outreach on the importance of reading to children. The target groups for the workshops will be parents and day care providers.

The Public Library Directors’ Council has set a goal of having statewide planning sessions on public library services and how to fund them for the next one hundred years in Oklahoma. The anticipated date for the sessions will be in late spring or early summer of 2002. The concept is to involve citizens, library friends and supporters, and library staff in a number of locations across the state to provide information about citizens’ information needs and encourage participation in the planning of how to provide those needs. A subcommittee of the Public Library Directors’ Council and myself will be working on developing this concept. The Public Library Directors’ Council will be meeting monthly for the next four months to maintain momentum on this effort.

Fallback Library Services and Technology Act Projects. Included in your packet under tab e are the projects that we want to fund with federal funds. The term “fallback” means that these funds were previously encumbered for use in projects approved earlier by the Board but the funds have been released because the projects came in under the estimate of original cost or the projects weren’t implemented for some reason. The balance of funds is then re-allocated to new projects each August. The start of the federal fiscal year is October 1st so at the October ODL Board meeting we will present our project ideas for the new federal fiscal year.

Evaluation of Library Services and Technology Act Funds. At the conclusion of our Board meeting on August 24th, Dr. June Lester and Dr. Connie Van Fleet from the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies would like to meet informally with those of you who would be able to stay for a short time concerning the database project and the certification of public librarians. As you may remember, these projects are funded with federal funds and are the focus of our outside evaluation of ODL’s use of federal funds from the Library Services and Technology Act. The Library Services and Technology Act itself mandated this outside evaluation and we awarded a grant to the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies to conduct the study at the April ODL Board meeting. The OU faculty has already distributed surveys to participants in both the database project and the certification program to get their input on the benefit of these projects to themselves and to the services they provide their customers. The ODL Board is another important voice in evaluation that Dr. Lester and Dr. Van Fleet wish to incorporate into the process. I hope you will be able to stay after the Board meeting to participate in this discussion.

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