Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FY2011 Budget and Regional Services

The message below was posted to the "All Regions" email discussion list on Tuesday, October 27, 2009:

To: All Regions

The Board of Library Commissioners received 250 comments on the proposed FY2011 budget. Thank you to those who took time to share your thoughts and ideas with us. Many of your comments are reflected in this update.

Over the last few weeks I have met with the staffs and executive boards of the Western, Central, Northeast, Metrowest and Southeastern regional library systems to brief them on the overall state budget issues that have led to the proposed 28% reduction in regional budgets for FY2011, and to discuss how we move forward together to plan for regional services needed by libraries and residents under these very constrained fiscal circumstances. I will attend each of the regional annual meetings in November to provide an update and to answer questions as time permits.

For now it is important that we focus our energy on assessing and prioritizing regional services. To this end, the regional administrators have contracted with Linda Braun to facilitate two discussions. First, all regional staff will gather to identify and prioritize regional services from their point of view as providers. Second, all regional executive board members will gather to prioritize services from the point of view of regional members. This work will be completed in December. From January through March we will work from the service priorities to design the best possible regional structure to provide the most complete set of services possible. From April through June we will work out the legal and fiscal details of the new structure. And as early as possible in FY2011 a transition to the new structure will take place.

Several issues have been raised in comments submitted to the Board of Library Commissioners in October and in the meetings with regional staff and executive boards that I would like to share with you.

First, beyond the major regional services (delivery, database licensing, continuing education and training, and many more) it is eminently clear that libraries of all types appreciate and want to preserve the relationship between their staff and regional staff. The single greatest challenge in restructuring the regions is to design a system that sustains this relationship. I am hopeful that this can be done.

Second, current regional staff should be retained. However, the reality is that there will simply not be positions for all current staff given the constrained budget.

Third, the restructured regions should continue to be multi-type and not revert to public library only regions.

Fourth, restructuring should be viewed as merging of existing regions and not as dissolution of regions. Merging means preserving the strengths of our regional system; dissolution suggests starting over.

Finally, it is of utmost importance that the current regional systems drive this process so that it ultimately results in a restructured regional program that reflects the needs of all member libraries. In short this restructuring will be best if it is a ground up not top down process.

Robert C. Maier, Director
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
98 North Washington Street, Suite 401
Boston, MA 02114
Ph (617) 725-1860 x249

No comments:

Post a Comment