Like the blind men learning about an elephant, residents know the Southern Tier Library System through the many different services we provide. To some we are the quick delivery of books and DVDs to their home library in any of five counties. To others it is STARCat, the one-million-plus database of library items, in which they search for books reviewed on NPR, or for movies nominated for the Academy Award. The YouTube video, A Day in the Life at the Southern Tier Library System, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQgMP9KF5g0 shows how Kristopher Radder, photographer/essayist for the Corning newspaper, The Leader, viewed our services. He toured STLS, photographed staff, created the whole-page color spread published in the paper, and posted this video on YouTube.
Many people think System services are like a free book club, or free Amazon subscription. They love placing a request online and getting the phone call telling them their item is at the library, ready to be picked up. Because of the connections the System provides, every library in every community is a doorway to an enormous regional collection.
And each member library is the gateway to all library services. Each library’s Board of Trustees is vital to establishing the policies and obtaining financial support for a smooth-running, and exciting library. Working with trustees is very important to the Southern Tier Library System. Over the last five years, we have used grant funds to sponsor workshops for trustees and directors to learn and exchange ideas on how to create policies, develop a strong governance structure, deal with legal issues, increase the visibility of their library, incorporate social media and manage change in our fast-changing environment.
For example, when the tax cap law was passed, we provided workshops and support for Boards that were thinking through implications of the law. In 2012 library funding propositions, some Boards decided to comply with the 2% tax cap; other Boards educated their communities about the need for tax support greater than 2%. Voters said yes to every library.
As state funding decreases, local libraries are paying more of the cost of the central services provided by the System. Those services include interlibrary loan from state and national resources, delivery to libraries in the five-county region six days a week, assisting libraries with the provision of services to older adults and people who are deaf or blind, making books and other items shelf-ready (including laminating book jackets,) consultant services and continuing education, and a wide-area high-speed telecommunications network..
It is more crucial than ever that the Southern Tier Library System work in close partnership with member trustees and directors to ensure that we are meeting the needs of their libraries. This partnership is what will help library services to thrive and residents to receive the excellent service they need in the 21st century