Fall 2011

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

System Overview: The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System

by Steve Bolton, System Director

Fall 2011 issue of Trustee

The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System is a 36-member, two-county system situated south of Buffalo in the far western corner of New York State. Its three largest cities are Jamestown and Olean, where its two co-central libraries are located, and Dunkirk. The rest of the area is largely rural and agricultural, with some communities as small as a few hundred people. Population loss and the decline of manufacturing jobs have plagued the area in recent decades. Present concerns include low-income, part-time, service-economy employment of educational attainment beyond high school graduation or the GED circumscribed functional literacy; and the special needs of a rapidly growing number of Spanish-speaking residents.

Among its successful services, the library system provides databases, interlibrary loan, a print shop, newsletter, lendable professional collection, and deposit collections of items such as large-print books and DVDs. Member libraries particularly depend on the twice-weekly delivery of materials and the ordering and processing of materials at system headquarters. Financial services such as doing payroll and assistance with state construction grants are also available.

The majority of member library managers do not have a professional degree. Despite desire and enthusiasm, their staff and volunteers may lack the know–how and the wherewithal to provide comprehensive library services. As a result, it is important for the system to offer continuing education opportunities and share expertise through workshops and field-consultant visits. Some recent projects funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services have allowed the system to provide leadership in areas such as software skills, marketing, digital audio/e-book adoption, and service to teens.

The system has also modeled literacy training and promotion of those services through Adult Literacy Library Services funding for the co-central libraries and facilitated the automation of member libraries so they can join the online system catalog. This has had a big impact on resource sharing.

Geographic isolation from the rest of the state and from one another is a challenge for our member libraries, but we encourage them to be as active as possible in the library community of Western New York and beyond. 2012 will bring a new director upon the retirement of longtime leader Catherine Way and a new five-year plan for the library system. We also expect a continued emphasis on using technology to serve our communities and addressing funding challenges to preserve library services.

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