Director Briefing - August 8, 2022

Annual Meeting: October 12, 2022

This year, we are hosting our Annual Meeting and election of System Trustees via Zoom and in-person at System headquarters on October 12, 2022. Our agenda will be simple: we'll welcome everyone, hold our trustee election, and give a State of the System report. It should be short and sweet. A notice will go out to Trustees soon.

Like last year, we will hold the OWWLie awards on a separate date. More to come on that soon.

Calendar event page.

Updated Computer Pricing from Bob

Our computer purchase form has another small update this month. Laptops have been dropped to $613.28. If you have printed copies lying around, please download the latest information here:

Direct link to the form:

2023 Long-Range Planning Cohort

To help libraries maintain compliance with a board-approved long-range plan, I will establish a working group of libraries interested in developing or revamping their plans in 2023. The goal will be to meet monthly with Library Directors, Board Presidents, and/or Planning Committee Chairs to discuss activities the library can implement to collect community feedback. Each library will develop its individual plan; this cohort is simply a way to have a broader reach on this System consultation and an opportunity to work with your peers.

Let me know if your library needs to update its plan in 2023 and if you would like some help.

Systems Access Policy Director Conversation

In response to the number of questions regarding this year's request for the Systems Access Policy Acknowledgment form, we would like to invite Directors to a post-PLSDAC conversation on September 9 at 12:30 PM to discuss the key points in the policy. We'll have an online link so you can hop on via Zoom, or you're welcome to come to the System.

I will send more information out soon; here is the calendar link for now:

Evergreen Update from Dan

Some changes have been made in Evergreen to accommodate Red Jacket Community Library's closure for the next month.

Patrons are unable to place holds for pickup at RJ until RJ reopens. Library staff should avoid selecting RJ as a pickup location until further notice.

Uncaptured holds placed before RJ was deactivated as a pickup library have been suspended until RJ reopens. There may still be a limited number of holds for pickup at RJ that appear on your holds pull list. You may want to ignore these holds and avoid pulling these items.

RJ patrons may return their items to other nearby libraries. Any RJ-owned items placed in transit to RJ should still be sent in delivery. Items sent in delivery will be held at OWWLHQ until RJ reopens.

Returns may include items owned by the Red Jacket School Library. Library staff may scan these school-owned items' barcodes; Evergreen should automatically send them in transit to RJ. They should be put in transit to RJ and sent in delivery to OWWLHQ.

If you have any questions, please email

Patron Account Questions and OWWL Library System from Kathryn

There has been an uptick in the number of patrons being directed to OWWLHQ with questions about their online accounts. As a reminder, we are happy to answer Member Library Staff's questions, but patron interactions should be handled locally. If an issue comes up that cannot be handled locally, the Member Library Staff should submit a ticket, not the patron. We will help you work through the issue so you can work with the patron.

Question of the Week: Volunteers and Staff

Question: Can a paid employee also be a volunteer? We have a volunteer who recently came onto the books as a substitute front desk staff member but wants to continue to volunteer occasionally, is that allowed?

Great question. This one gets a cautious yes, but with some hefty restrictions.

According to the New York Department of Labor, "A person who is a paid employee of such an organization may volunteer for that organization. However, the type of work they do as a volunteer must be completely different from the type of work they do as an employee."

Our friends at the DOL go a bit further in defining what type of volunteer work is allowed by listing a few restrictions:

Unpaid volunteers may not:
  • Replace or augment paid staff to do the work of paid staff
  • Do anything but tasks traditionally reserved for volunteers
  • Be required to work certain hours
  • Be required to perform duties involuntarily
  • Be under any contract to hire
    • by any other person or business
    • express or implied
  • Be paid for their services (except reimbursement for expenses)
The first two bullet points usually shut down any "volunteering" at a library because many of the tasks are also performed by paid staff. For example, if your paid library clerks shelve books, you would not be able to have a volunteer do the same work since it is "augmenting paid staff," and it is not a task "traditionally reserved for volunteers."

So, while an employee could potentially volunteer at the library, it would need to follow the rules of volunteer work and be completely different from their current job duties. NY DOL is very specific about this, and since there are so many overlaps in library workers' positions, there are very few situations where you would be able to allow this.

If your library has a separate Volunteer Handbook with clearly defined tasks that are reserved for volunteers, you could potentially find something. However, without that, you're better off paying the staff member whenever they're at the library working and refrain from utilizing them as a volunteer.

Last year I drafted the Volunteer Handbook Word Document to help libraries set up a volunteer program that would be legal with the Department of Labor. This was modeled on a few examples and interpretations of existing laws. You may find it helpful in developing your library's volunteer program.
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