What is the Public Library System Redesign Project?
Wisconsin library systems, as they exist now, have been part of Wisconsin State law for over forty years, though systems and the world in which services are delivered have evolved over the decades.

Wisconsin’s library system law, providing funding for coordinated regional library services, officially went into effect in 1971 when Senate Bill 47 was signed into law (1971 Act 152). The creation of public library systems fostered the establishment of a strong network of resource sharing and mutually beneficial interdependence. The actual creation and development of public library systems in Wisconsin was a voluntary and gradual process. No county or public library is required to be a member of a library system; yet, as of this writing, all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and more than 380 public libraries are library system members. Wisconsin’s 17 public library systems developed in distinct ways in response to the needs of their member libraries and area residents.

While changes in society, resources, and technologies have created new demands and opportunities for systems, the law and services required of them as well as many of their practices are still relatively unchanged from the original law. The library community—the systems, libraries, and the legislature—has recognized the need to update what is required of library systems as well as to redesign the services in a manner that is more efficient and effective.

The Public Library System Redesign (PLSR) process is a community process to consider these changes and new models to provide system services to public libraries.

Workgroups for major service areas (Continuing Education; Consulting; Resource Library Services; Technology; Electronic Resources; Interlibrary Loan; ILS/Discovery; Delivery; and Chapter 43) will explore the current Wisconsin public library system landscape, look at other models and determine the best ways to deliver the best services to Wisconsin Public Library patrons.

This is a multi-year process.  It is expected that the workgroups will offer recommendations for models in 2017/18.

How did this project come about?
In the development of the biennial budget for 2014-15, the legislature’s Committee on Joint Finance (JFC) proposed a study to be conducted by the Department of Administration in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction, to look for efficiencies and opportunities where technology might afford savings. That recommendation was vetoed by the governor, who stated that the DPI has the authority to conduct such a study. In 2013, the System and Resource Library Administrators’ Association of Wisconsin (SRLAAW) conducted a self-examination and report, and in 2014, the DPI’s Public Library Development Team, working with a consultant and a volunteer steering committee, carried out a LEAN study as recommended by the JFC.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) appointed a Strategic Vision Work Group who developed a vision for library systems in the 21st century, which COLAND recommended to State Superintendent Tony Evers.  The recommendations included an outline of the process which is currently being undertaken.

Who is working on this project / how does the committee process work?
The Department of Instruction (DPI) appointed a group of library leaders from library systems and public libraries of varying sizes and areas of the state to the project Steering Committee for the purpose of reviewing and guiding potential changes to Wisconsin’s Public Library Systems.

Using Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) funds, the Steering Committee, after a RFP process, hired WiLS, a non-profit membership organization that facilitates collaborative projects and services, to provide project management services.

Workgroups have been formed around the service areas identified in the LEAN study (see above), with leads, facilitators, and members representing libraries and systems of a variety of sizes and from each area of the state. The project managers will work with the workgroups to analyze current system processes, investigate other models and to make recommendations to the Steering Committee.

What is the project timeline?
Work began on this project in December 2015. The first phase of work will include the creation of workgroups and their work plans. The project plans will be delivered to the Steering Committee and will include the following:  Description and charge of the workgroup; workgroup members; current expenditures for the service within the state; possible models from other states for the service area; relevant Wisconsin library law to be considered as service is redesigned; work plan and budget.

The project plans will be present to the steering committee in April 2016.  Workgroups are expected to start activities in May 2016.

What has happened so far?
The Steering Committee has met and approved several foundational documents, including principles and goals for the project, the communication plan, data and information gathering plan, and a records management plan. All of these documents can be found under the Resources tab of this website. Minutes of past meetings are also available to learn more about what has already happened.

The workgroup leadership has also been selected.

How can I stay up to date on the project?
One of the main goals of this project is to keep the process open and transparent and the Steering Committee. Project managers will ensure that this website is kept up to date through the duration of the project. Meeting agendas, minutes and documents will be made available and important information related to the project will be posted to the site in a regular update message.

Information will also be shared with the Wisconsin library community through a network of library system communication liaisons, and, when appropriate, will be shared via DPI and other state-wide channels.

Who can I contact with questions?
You can email project managers at: plsrprojects@wils.org

How can I offer feedback?
There are several ways you can offer feedback. You can contact members of the Steering Committee, you can email the project managers, you can contact workgroups directly using the Contact Form or you can volunteer to serve on a Survey Panel. As the workgroups continue to develop their models, they will need to gather opinions and thoughts from the library community in a systematic way.  We’ll be using the PLSR Survey Panel for this purpose.  If you join the panel, you’ll receive surveys from the workgroups and project managers. You can respond to all of them or only respond to some.  It’ll be up to you!  It’s a great way to be part of the process and the workgroups will appreciate your input.  You can also unsubscribe from the panel at any time. Sign up with this simple form.