Report from Phillip Saxton, GCPL Board Chairman – January 30, 2012
First, I want to thank my fellow Board members for their contribution to a successful calendar year. I want to call your attention to review the FY2011 attachment and the GCPL top accomplishments which collectively we accomplished. None of this could have been done without the hard work of our Board and GCPL staff.
I appreciate being elected GCPL Library Board Chairman for calendar year 2011 which covers the second half of FY11 and the first half of FY12. This turned out to be a most challenging year considering that we had to reduce our budget by $2.8 million. Although we had to reduce hours, I am proud that we did this and kept our library open 7 days per week to serve the families of Gwinnett. This was quite an accomplishment, which we can all be proud of considering the use of the GCPL Library during this tough economic time broke all records.
This twelve month period was filled with achievements. Many of those specific accomplishments are detailed in the attached documents: Check Us Out FY2011 -http://www.gwinnettpl.org/sites/default/files/CheckUsOutFY11.pdf
, FY2011 Summary of System Accomplishments to Date, and the Top 3 Accomplishments Document that the library prepared and sent to the County for the State of Gwinnett County publication.
Just to review, we checked out the most items in the State of Georgia with over 7.6 million items. This is due to our determination of having the items in stock that our customers in our neighborhood libraries wanted. Considering that the average family only contributes $27 per year for library services, the savings and impact on the family budget saved our families millions.
We can be proud that we have over 325 thousand card holders with new cards being added at the rate of 40 thousand annually. Our program attendance was also up over 30% bringing entertaining and informative programs to our citizens. Over 200 thousand people attended our programs.
We had more than 3.4 million visits to our library branches and over 5 million visits to our web site. This is an awesome accomplishment demonstrating that our library system is not only quite healthy but in great demand. We also observe that this many visits represents quite a market for our services.
Our computer usage was also up by 14% at well over 1 million visits. This is quite expected considering the number of people who used our computers and librarians in searching for jobs. Additionally, although we don’t have an exact figure, we observed that many people brought in their own computers, IPads and ebook readers to access our broadband network.
Lastly, I want to share with you that our volunteer hours were up over 46% breaking all previous records. Gwinnett volunteers gave over 35,000 hours to GPCL.
In addition to those system accomplishments, I devoted a good deal of personal time and energy to promote GCPL to elected officials, business owners and community organizations. To support my library presentations, I was involved in the development of The State of the Gwinnet County Public Library 2011 document which was prepared, printed and bound to be distributed to library stakeholders. Many of these elected officials stated that this was one of the finest presentations and documents that has come before them.
I specifically called on Congressman Rob Woodall to explain the importance of libraries. I told stories about how public libraries make an impact on individuals and whole communities. We had a long and interesting conversation about our library and the future of libraries in the coming decades. Rob Woodall is a big supporter of GCPL and really appreciated our work in enhancing the lives of Gwinnett citizens. He was also particularly interested in how we help the jobless find jobs and other services the Library provides.
I visited many of the city councils in Gwinnett County. Additionally, I met with Commissioner Beaudreau and with Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash, to make the case for level funding on more than one occasion. I feel as though my efforts paid off because the library was awarded level funding.
Lastly, I visited with many business owners, business network organizations, non profit organizations and professionals as to how GCPL Library could serve them and how we can partner together in 2012 to support those programs of mutual interest.
Gwinnett County Public Schools and other non profit organizations and churches have mentoring programs. I wanted our public library to become a destination spot in these efforts. Accordingly, each branch now has an eye-catching display, and preselected materials, that can be used by tutors and mentors of teens.
I made a point to visit each of the branches. I spoke with branch staff to get their point of view and to learn firsthand about library services at the different branches. Each of our library branches is unique serving the needs of our constituents in their respective neighborhoods.
This not only includes customized collections to a point but also includes programming that reflects the needs and desires of those citizens who live around our branches. I am also proud that each of our libraries have different architectural design, but also reflects the personality of the local branch manager and staff.
GCPL finished the year in a stable financial position along with great possibilities for future growth based upon our Six Pillar fundraising program. After many meetings including having two meetings in the 2012 Budget Review Process and subsequent meetings with Chairman Charlotte Nash, we are happy and proud that our budget was not cut for the coming year; however there are incentives associated with $1.5 million of our funding to work closely with the county to achieve certain milestones.
I am proud that our message and future plans were so well received. A lot of work went into helping us continue with a flat budget rather than a budget cut. I want you to know that I am 100% committed to achieving our goals.
We were given the following milestones to accomplish beginning this year:
Increase volunteer hours
Increase our open hours of operation
Conduct efficiency study with County staff
Long Range Facility Plan
Six Pillar Program
Each of these milestones are exciting and we have already begun to work toward accomplishing them in 2012. I want to encourage the board to lend assistance in these areas and to get personally involved in all of them. Our work with the county will begin officially in February, however the staff is moving quite aggressively on each of these milestones.
Our Six Pillar program includes:
We specifically asked Charlotte Nash to give us the time to implement these programs during 2012 with the goal of generating revenues that ultimately reach over $4 million. This is a big task that is going to require big ideas and the support not only of the board but our staff and citizens.
To accomplish this Six Pillar program will require my leadership and so I have pledged to devote considerable personal time in each of these areas.
In Advertising, I will meet with business organizations and local businesses to get the advertising started in each of our neighborhoods. This will mean working with our administrative staff, vendors and branch managers to identify prospects. In addition we will launch a PR initiative to help business owners understand the benefits of advertising with GCPL. In addition, I will work with very large corporations to interest them in advertising with GCPL. We will begin with calling on each of the major corporations headquartered in the Atlanta area and then move to major corporations outside of Atlanta area on an as needed basis.
In our Affiliates Program we have already accomplished great strides on the web site and have our systems in place. The next step is to implement educational programs to educate the community that they can help the library by utilizing our affiliates. We also intend to increase the number of affiliate partners.
In our Donation Program we will become more aggressive in reminding the public that we would appreciate their donations. In this and other areas we plan to implement some contest between branches to increase the donation levels. We can also use our advertising program to help ourselves in continually reminding our patrons to support GCPL through donations. Aggressive library donation programs are new to library systems and so I have requested Board Member Suzanne Skeen to help in this area because of her knowledge of library systems. This area is also going to require some staff training.
Our Endowment has already been established and we are requesting that the name of the endowment be changed to Gwinnett County Public Library Endowment Fund. I have requested Board Member Betty Atkinson to work closely in leading this effort and to work with our Friends of the Library committee to launch a series of activities to get the public involved in making donations to our Endowment. In addition we will make personal calls on a list of potential donors that we have already identified.
In our Fund Raising Program, we plan to work with both businesses and non-profit organizations to implement fundraising programs in our library branches. The funds raised will be shared with the non-profit organizations.
Our Materials Sponsorship Program will target specific industries, like engineering, medical, health, accounting, legal and dental organizations and individuals to purchase materials for our library and to sponsor educational programs for our citizens.
Our six pillar program to increase our non-tax revenues has been very well received by the community. We have received good positive coverage by the media and we look forward to the successful implementation of each of these programs.
I also look forward to working with our board on achieving the above mentioned milestones. Your expertise is particularly needed in helping to develop our Long Range Library Services Plan and our future Facilities Plan. In addition, I would like the Boards help in working with Gwinnett County Board of Education on how we can continue to support their efforts and goals for all of our children
Lastly, I want to once again thank the GCPL Board for their support and to ask you to help us achieve a successful 2012. With your help and that of the staff, County staff, citizens and local leaders, I see no reason why we cannot have our best year ever.