Monday, September 14, 2009

A Message from the President

As outgoing President of OCLN, the Old Colony Library Network, one of my final duties was to write a message for the Annual Report. Here's what I said:

The most shocking thing I learned, when I joined the Old Colony Library Network, was the size of the staff. I thought supporting millions of transactions per year and 28 members would require dozens. Not so. A dedicated and extremely competent team of six keeps everything humming along, day in and day out, year after year. Meanwhile, decisions about policies, and the direction of the network’s growth, are hammered out by an invisible army of volunteers - staffers from member libraries - who serve on committees and roundtables to keep OCLN current and responsive to our needs.

At a public hearing with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, I described how we rely on state funding to the network to offset equipment and telecommunication costs. Since they reduced this funding, we have to spend more local funds to pay increased network membership fees. The loss of this money leads to layoffs and reduces our ability provide materials, services and programs. Yet as president of the network, I know there is no way to make up for revenue shortfalls but to increase the fees to member libraries.

I described how we handled cataloging and patron records when I began my career, and everything was done on little cards maintained in-house by each member library. Having all these records on databases maintained by, and residing at, our Networks avoids a huge amount of in-house labor that would have to be performed manually, as it was 30 years ago. From the sexy, jazzy idea of getting books from across the state in days, to the most mundane behind-the-scenes tasks, we are able to function and serve our public thanks to our membership in the Old Colony Library Network.

Harry Roger Williams, III
OCLN President, July 2008 - June 2009