Director Briefing - August 16, 2022

Trustee Handbook Book Club After Party Part II

The Trustee Handbook Book Club After Party Part II is now live on Mid-Hudson Library System's Website!

In this session, the THBC team takes on questions from previous sessions that relate to:
  • Budgets & Finance;
  • Facilities;
  • Policies & Risk Management;
  • Ethics, Conflicts of Interest, Intellectual Freedom, Censorship, and Privacy;
  • Planning & Evaluation; and
  • PR & Advocacy.

Direct Link to Recording


Summer Reading Survey from Suzanne

As your library wraps-up summer programming, please take a few moments to complete the 2022 Summer Reading Survey. This is information we need to compile at the System and submit to the Division of Library Development. Questions can be directed to Suzanne at This survey link will also be included in tomorrow's Youth Services Update that is sent via the OWWL Libraries ysl listserv.

Public Library Preparedness Survey

This message was sent to NYLINE by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. Please consider filling out the survey for her research.

Dear Library Colleague,

We are asking for your help to benchmark both public library preparedness for disaster and their contribution to community resilience efforts. This research is being conducted by Monika Antonelli (Minnesota State University, Mankato), Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (Mid-Hudson Library System), Adrian K. Ho (University of Chicago) and René Tanner (Rollins College).

The short survey will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete and is intended for public library directors or public library administrators. The aim of the project is to aid the researchers in assessing U.S. public libraries' readiness for weather-related disasters as institutions, as well as to assess how public libraries can provide assistance to their communities' recovery in the wake of weather-related disasters.

If you would like to participate in this Minnesota State University, Mankato study (IRBNet ID 1919288) please click on this link to go to the survey. If you have any questions, feel free to contact lead researcher, Monika Antonelli at The survey will close on August 31, 2022.

Thank you for considering this research opportunity.

Survey Link:

Question of the Week: Libraries and Funding

Question: At the Small Libraries Summer Symposium, you presented An Introduction to Funding Your Library. In the presentation, you had jokingly said that you had a funding plan for all the libraries in the System. Were you serious? If so, could I use that plan?

Good question, and it made me chuckle. This is the second time I've been asked this (the first one referred to this as my "Super Secret Ninja Library Plan..." I liked that a lot). Anyway, it's nice that people enjoyed the presentation and are thinking about funding. While I have yet to develop a full-fledged funding plan for each library, I have thought about scenarios for all of our libraries at one point.

It is incredibly difficult to consider all the variables certain decisions would have on each library, especially since most have had the same service area for decades. Still, I do have a few general thoughts to give you an idea of what I consider when thinking about the future of funding. In broad strokes, my main priorities are serving unserved areas, establishing community-based funding, the public election of trustees, and eliminating overlapping funding sources.

Funding decisions need to happen at the local level, and your board has the final say in the future of your library. If you were to ask me to talk about it from an outside perspective, here are a few items I would focus on…

Area of Consideration One: Unserved areas. It is a professional goal of mine to eliminate as much "red" on our district maps as possible. The "red" areas are unserved jurisdictions that have not been "claimed" by a library charter. Some areas may always be unserved, but most of them could have a positive outcome. There are even some new solutions may help charter some long-standing red areas. While not always directly related to funding, this certainly impacts funding scenarios when considering the next point of tax levies.


Area of Consideration Two: Tax levies. Regardless of type, a funding plan for each library should include 90% of its total operating budget coming from a 259 tax levy, a 414 tax levy, or a special legislative district tax levy. This is the only way to secure a library's future. Donations, appropriations, and fundraising are too ephemeral for long-term sustainability. If your library has been operating on those methods to date without a problem, that's great. I am glad it's still working. However, there is an eventual downturn in everything, and someday, those funds may not be available. By then, shifting to tax-based funding may be too late.

Along these lines, here are two of my favorite Trustee Handbook quotes, "A public library is a public service and secure, reliable public funding is the most appropriate way to pay for it. A public library is not a charity!" and "To rely on donations for critical operational expenses such as salaries, building maintenance and utilities is inviting a crisis for the library."

Getting a library to at least 90% sustainable funding may take time, but it's necessary for long-term sustainability.

Area of Consideration Three: Publically elected trustees. This is another odd one that doesn't come directly tied to money. However, putting a public referendum up to vote along with the representation from the community being taxed is one of the best ways to be positive financial stewards in your community. For Association Libraries, this practice offers increased transparency to accompany public funding. For Municipal Libraries, library boards elected by the public have more control over library operations than those who are appointed by the town or village boards. The library becomes completely autonomous and separated from the political environment of the municipal government. School District Library Boards already have elected trustees, so you're all set.

Area of Consideration Four: Overlapping funding sources. Libraries with overlapping or compounded funding streams such as appropriations from Towns and Villages and a tax levy may have issues in the future. While not technically considered double taxation, they are a form of "double dipping," which is frowned upon by taxpayers and may eventually be another area of study through legislative action. This goes back to having one funding source that makes up at least 90% of a library's funding.

There is a lot to consider when evaluating library funding, but these are a few of the first things I look at. If your board would like to discuss funding (or any of these items), I'm happy to attend a board meeting or host an educational session (educational sessions are not open to the public, making it more comfortable to ask questions in the early stages).

All of these items are at the front of my mind right now because of the potential impacts of the double taxation study, the possibility of consolidated districts (because of the new Governor), discussions of the Association Library District model, and the potentially precarious financial health of the State for the next few years.

Reminder: System Annual Meeting, Election of Trustees, & State of the System

The System Annual Meeting, Election of Trustees, & State of the System on October 12, 2022 at 6:00pm. This will be a low-key virtual (or in-person if you'd like to come to OWWLHQ) event where we will elect System Trustees and discuss the State of the System.

Click here for the calendar information .
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