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Agendas and Minutes

Citizen Library Advisory Ad Hoc Committee (View All)

Citizens’ Library Advisory Ad Hoc Committee

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Citizens’ Library Advisory Ad Hoc Committee

Study Session

Thursday, June 19 2008

Ashland Public Library, Gresham Room

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm



Vavra, Gibb, Battistela, Burckholder, Churchman



Keil, Morrison (mayor) Seltzer (city liaison), Blossom (library 



Guests:  Jim Scheppke, Oregon State  Librarian

Members of the public: 16


Commission Chair Vavra called the Study Session to order at 1602. 

Burckholder introduced Jim Scheppke, Oregon State Librarian. 


Scheppke provided a brief history of the development of Ashland’s library from a small subscription library (1891) to a free public town library (1909) to a county library (1970), and the evolution of state laws affecting library governance, then focused on four topics as requested (the following summary includes responses to questions and comments from commission members and the public).


1. State support cannot be expected in terms of  financing, but can be in terms of consultation and advice.


2. Scheppke identified eleven models of governance  now in existence (one of which has three variations for a total of 14  possibilities). He clearly regarded consolidated county libraries as the best  model.


There are three types: those administered by counties (11), those  administered by a special or country library service district 4), and those  administered by a city under contract with a county library service district  (1).


There is one federated county library district administered by a city.


Scheppke regarded federated models as second-best, noting a proliferation of meetings to reach decisions and a tendency of each unit to maximize its own autonomy and a multiplication of directors and staff, leading to losses of efficiency and economies of scale.


There are 22 library districts in Oregon; they take two main forms.  County service districts are run by the regularly elected county commissioners.  Special districts are run by an unpaid five-person board elected either at large or from defined zones who serve four-year terms. The former assumes trust in county government; the latter adds a new layer of bureaucracy to county government; elections tend to be uncontested.


District boundaries can be drawn  in almost any fashion desired (including school district boundaries) but all voters in a proposed district have a vote as to whether or not a library district should be formed.  It can be non-contiguous, can be multi-county, and can annex new territory later (with the concurrence of the territory annexed).  It is more difficult to gain voter approval for a new library district in  general because they are permanent and have a permanent tax base, but they are  very successful where they have been passed. A weakness is the lack of a requirement for a minimum size district, which could be stated in terms of  population, area, or best (and in use in Montana), total assessed valuation.  Scheppke declined to put a number to the latter.


There are four libraries administered by school districts. School  districts can form library districts, in which case it is governed by the school  board, cannot have a dedicated tax, and may run up against limits on school  board funding.


Models mentioned but not discussed in detail include libraries  administered by cities (86), libraries serving areas smaller than a county  administered by special library districts (13), libraries administered by  non-profit corporations under contract with a county or district (4), special  library districts served by city libraries (1), and cooperative library systems  administered by counties (3), community college districts (1) and a county  service district (1).


3. With respect to evaluation of libraries, Scheppke suggested two  models.  The first model is the quality standards of the Oregon Library  Association, which rates libraries as threshold, adequate, or excellent in  quality based on quality of service (e.g., open hours, staff numbers and  qualifications, and available books and computers) and performance (e.g.,  circulation, attendance at children’s programs, reference questions).


The second model is comparison with peer libraries, as illustrated by a handout provided with 2006-2007 data covering the six county systems in Oregon on selected variables that he thought most important (population served, number of branches, average population per outlet, square feet per capita, librarians  per 1000 population served, total staff per population served, operating expenditures per capita, expenditures on collection per capita, book units per capita, book units added per capita, audio units per capita, video units per capita, licensed databases per 10000 population, public access Internet per 1000  population, total main library hours in typical week, annual open hours per  capita, total circulation per capita, reference transactions per capita, children’s program attendance per capita, adult program attendance per capita.


4. As to his vision for Jackson County Libraries,  Scheppke said that he looked forward to Jackson County to continue its trajectory toward equaling the services provided by Multnomah County Libraries.


·    Libraries have three main roles  that are likely to remain vital for at least the next twenty  years: Circulation of materials in various forms to the general  public

·    Programs: children’s, summer, and  literacy

·    Access to the Internet


Importance of reference questions appears to be declining, but these three main roles are likely to grow rather than be threatened. Literacy and  children’s programs have few competitors, e-books seem not to be catching on significantly, and the increasing cost of Internet services and the larger  number of data bases that libraries make accessible cannot be matched by individual users. 


The  meeting adjourned at 5:50 p.m.


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