MPL board hears results of community survey

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Laura Rossmann, of Laura Rossmann Consulting, presented results from Marshall Public Library’s community survey that was conducted earlier this year during the library’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday, June 13.

The survey was completed after the library hosted focus groups to get a glimpse of library patrons’ interests. A total of 308 responses to the survey were received; approximately 10 percent of the library’s cardholders. Around 3,000 people are cardholders, which would be approximately a quarter of Marshall residents, although some cardholders do not live in Marshall.

Most survey respondents, a total of 47 percent, were 51 years old or older, but all age groups were represented. A total of 69 percent reported there are only one or two people in the household, with most households not occupied by children. Slightly more than half of respondents have either a bachelor’s or graduate degree, and the majority of those who provided an approximate household income landed in middle range.

In general, a large portion of respondents knew about what the library has to offer, such as audio books, DVDs, magazines and newspapers, the Evergreen Interlibrary Exchange and the genealogy room. A very small percentage of people participate in children’s and adult programs; approximately 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Nearly half of adults said they had not participated in adult programs, but would be interested.

According to the summary, 62 percent of respondents indicated they would support an increase to 20 cents on every $1,000 assessed value. Approximately 76 percent said they own their own homes, which would be affected by a possible tax increase. A total of 56 percent said they would support a new half-cent sales tax.

In addition to providing demographics and statistics, the report indicated areas where the library could improve. One such area included adding more adult programs and finding ways of raising awareness of them and children’s programs. A large percentage of respondents indicated they would like the library’s collection expanded, particularly fiction and best sellers. Others indicated they would like to see an extension on the check out period from the current three weeks to four weeks.

Increased library funding was also suggested in order to make some of the changes.

According to Rossmann, the next step is to begin the actual strategic planning process, which takes approximately six months. The planning process includes looking at and updating the library’s mission and vision statements if needed; researching the library’s environment, such as the community; a board and staff member retreat to discuss the library’s potential and set goals; and develop committees, which in turn would develop plans to fulfill those goals.

The board agreed to wait until the board’s next meeting to decide whether to continue the strategic planning process.

In other business, Treasurer Allison Lucas said the library’s budget will be greatly affected by two major changes. The city discovered two library employees were not, in the past five years, paid retirement that they were entitled to. The cost to fix the issue, estimated to be between $20,000 to $25,000, will be taken out of this year’s fiscal budget. An increase in the city’s insurance premiums also increased, meaning the library’s showed an increase as well.

“The finance committee is looking into resolutions for this,” Lucas said. “We hope to present those to you at the next board meeting.”

The goal is to fix the budget before the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30. According to the library’s budget sheet, $60,421.52 is unexpended for the fiscal year, and $226,204.48 has been expended.

In new business, the board approved for the library to be closed Monday, July 3, in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. A slate of board officer positions was presented, with John Carton as president, Lloyd Purdy as vice president, Marsha Williams as secretary, and Lucas as treasurer. Nominations will still be accepted until the board’s July 11 meeting, when elections will take place.

MPL Director Wicky Sleight announced that Terry Humphrey, head of the local history and genealogy room, became a notary public for the state of Missouri, and will offer notary services at the library during specific times, which will be announced at a later time.

A working draft of the library’s 2018 fiscal year budget was also presented during the meeting, with anticipated expenses totaling $265,161 and $273,260 in revenue anticipated.

“I always try to be very conservative on revenue and hope that we exceed it,” Sleight said.

The draft will be presented to the city of Marshall as a working budget to be amended.

An executive session will be held on Tuesday, June 20, to discuss the library’s ongoing lawsuit filed by the Saline County Historical Society.

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