Budget shortfalls... Layoffs... Downsizing government... These words bombard us daily in the newspaper, television and radio and have been a constant topic of speculation in our conversations. Every day there is something new to chew about.
by Fusako Miyashiro
How will this affect Waimanalo Library? Will it remain open? Will new books and materials be bought? Are services being curtailed? Will staff be lost? These are some of the many questions that have been asked by concerned library users.
Currently, all vacant positions are frozen (cannot be filled). These can be filled only if deemed justified. In March, re-deployment of employees from fully staffed libraries to lesser staffed--less busy libraries was completed.
However, answers to the questions above regarding what is going to happen to our libraries, cannot now be fully answered because situations and information received are constantly updated, making even this morning's information obsolete. At the library administrative level feverish activity is now going on to complete plans to meet the current situation.
In the meantime, we'd like to share what has been happening in the library system in the past few years to the present.
State Librarian Bart Kane introduced in January, 1993 Project SLIMMER (State Library Innovations Model: Maximizing Employees & Revenues). One of the results of the project was the decision to charge discretionary fees to increase revenue to be able to acquire new books and equipment, and help libraries pay for their way. Fees now collected include use of library meeting rooms, video loans, out-of-state library cards for visitors, use of equipment, an increased charge for replacement library cards.
Another part of SLIMMER is the Self Directed Work Teams (SWDT). The goal of SWDT is to "increase employee productivity, increase customer satisfaction, lower costs, and improve employee creativity," or in other words, do more with less, finding creative solutions to provide service that will keep the customer happy, and have a happy staff too. SDWT gave library employees on the front line the power to make decisions to be more effective in their work to better serve the public.
Kailua Library was one of five libraries what volunteered to implement SWDT in its first year. Already one of the busiest libraries in the state, it is reported that implementing SDWT at the Kailua Library has increased circulation where an average of 4,000 pieces of material are handled daily. They have set up vision statements, goals, meet weekly and make all decisions together which has made their work unit more cohesive and united in working for the same goals. It is considered a model library. In the second year of the project, more libraries adopted SDWT. By the end of 1995, all libraries will be trained to be Self Directed Work Teams.
"Re-engineering" has also become part of the library system's vocabulary. This process is already used by some corporations in the U.S. and there are several books out on the subject. State Librarian Kane has assembled a Re-engineering Committee comprised of library staff, a representative from the governor's office, and representatives from business to look at the library structure, determine core services, consider technology and then to redesign and restructure the library system. The working plan for re-engineering is now being formulated and is scheduled to be completed and unveiled very soon. The libraries will experience changes which will likely be enormous.
Meanwhile, library service is alive and well. The summer reading program has been very successful--children and teens are making good use of the library this summer--reading and borrowing books. The GECC/library sponsored evening pre-school story hours are well attended. We thank the associates who have been coming weekly to read, help with the registration, and doing a fantastic job.
Come and visit your library. We are here to serve you! Library hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, and Wednesday noon to 8 pm. The library will be closed Admissions Day, August 18.