What has already been asked?

Started October 2017 after a suggestion at the WLA Conference, this is not a comprehensive list of questions asked of workgroups and the Steering Committee, but we’ll do our best to keep it up to date.

General/OverviewChapter 43CollectionsConsulting and Continuing EducationDeliveryILL/ILSResource LibrariesTechnology

Steering Questions asked/answered

What can you tell us about governance, accountability in models, or administration? 
Many of the recommendations related to governance, accountability and administration will happen at the end of the process, after the workgroup reports are submitted to the Steering Committee and after considerable feedback and input from the library community. We do know the following:

  • Each workgroup will make recommendations about governance and administration in their report to Steering Committee.
  • The Steering Committee approved the Principles of Structure Development that firmly lays out the common goals and standards to guide the work of the process, which includes a commitment to transparency, accountability, equity and more.

Stakeholders will be involved in these decisions, prior to and after the workgroup reports are provided to the Steering Committee.  Activities will include ongoing conversations with system directors, focus groups with libraries, involvement of Wisconsin Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND), Library Development & Legislative Committee (LD&L), Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), and others in the decision-making process, and more.

Will Systems still exist at the end of the PLSR process? Will there be a different number of Systems? Is there a map?
There have been no decisions about number, size, or location of systems and there is no new map of systems. However, some workgroups do have draft service maps (example: delivery hub map). The Steering Committee will be developing recommendations related to overall administrative structure, funding, and governance after receiving workgroup recommendations in March 2018 (see above for more details) and the recommendations will go to DPI and then DPI will determine what actions to take.

What is the process for approval of this project and potential process implementation?
After receiving the recommendations from the workgroups, the Steering Committee will include different stakeholders as it makes decisions to develop recommendations to deliver to DPI.  DPI will then have its own process regarding decisions about implementation.

What is the timeline for the process? Do you have a timeline for actual implementation?
The basic PLSR timeline is as follows (and may be subject to some changes, depending on needs of the workgroups, Steering Committee, DPI, and the library community):

  • February 22, 2018 – workgroups will present their recommendations to the Steering Committee and other workgroups at a PLSR retreat (details, including location and agenda will be shared with the community).
  • March – regional meetings will take place to share information and seek input.
  • April 2, 2018 – full report of the workgroup recommendations is given to the Steering Committee for review and shared with the community
  • April: Steering Committee meets to discuss the workgroup recommendations in order to:
    • Figure out how models are fitting together, where adjustments need to be considered and discuss how the recommendations fit with existing structure.
  • May 2-4: Steering Committee presents at WAPL
  • May 18: Steering Committee meets.
  • After this, TBD.

How will there be enough funding to accomplish the recommendations?
The hope is that the new service models will increase efficiency, decrease duplicative work, harness technologies, and utilize economies of scale to provide equitable service without drastically increasing the overall costs of providing those services.  However, this is a question to be further discussed once the workgroup recommendations are completed.

Why we are changing anything? What are examples of problems we are trying to solve and the solutions being developed?
While there is no single problem that this project is trying to address, there are several areas that this project, a comprehensive review of services provided to libraries with input from those who provide and receive the services, hopes address including:

  • Library services needs have changed while the basic framework of statue (and therefore system law) has not.
  • Libraries are a matter of statewide concern. The service provided to public libraries from systems should be a matter of statewide concern, too.
  • To ensure we are using the dollars received from the State in the most cost-effective manner and to provide great service across the state regardless of location.
  • To ensure that all libraries have access to the expertise they need. The questions they ask may not all be the same but the ability to have the access they need should be the same for all libraries in the state.
  • To build upon our strengths to make us even stronger.
  • To ensure that system services are based on the needs of the libraries not on the skills of the individual in a certain position at the system office.
  • To determine what services require a regional presence and what services are more efficient on a larger scale.
  • To provide libraries with the services they need, not just the services their systems have chosen to provide as they’ve made hard choices based on the funding available. Some cuts to staff and programs have been made while the services are still desired.
  • To ensure that all systems are accountable to their members.

At what point do we start involving/reporting to legislators whose support will be needed to make Chapter 43 changes?
The Wisconsin Library Association’s Library Development & Legislative Committee, along with DPI, are being kept aware of the process.  Legislators will be involved and informed as they feel is appropriate.

Have patrons been surveyed or included in the process and will patrons notice any changes?
The process is focused on state-funded, collaborative public library services.  While some of them are directly used by patrons, most are invisible to patrons.  . While library patrons and tax payers are the ultimate stakeholder in the process, it has been through the voices of library and System staff that their needs have been articulated.

That being said, if a workgroup or the Steering Committee decides that direct patron input through a survey or another feedback mechanism would be beneficial, that will be accommodated in the process.

Some of the recommendations may improve direct patron services.  For example, some patrons may see delivery increase to their library and there may be a simplified way for patrons to search for materials across the state.

When should I talk to my library board and patrons about this process?
You know your Board and patrons best, so share information when you think they would most benefit. The PLSR website is kept up to date with everything from meeting minutes and recordings to documents and processes approved by the Steering Committee.

We are working on shorter pieces to help inform stakeholder groups about the process and expect to have those ready to share in early 2018.

Have you done cost analysis?   Will cost analyses simply be estimated costs to provide the recommended service, or will these be true cost analyses that include the costs of transition (such as purchasing or reimbursing systems for delivery vans and other capital equipment that may no longer be needed, unemployment compensation for any possible position eliminations, incentives to speed up transitions…) as well as total development costs , annual operating costs, and who will pay these costs?
The Steering Committee appointed a Funding Cost Standards Subcommittee that is researching public library system funding to understand the different ways funding is allocated to fund system services. This information will assist workgroups as they draft their reports and will be a critical piece of information gathered for the Steering Committee.

Each workgroup is also compiling costs for their models to include with their recommendation report.

The Steering Committee has never intended to do an in-depth impact analysis on the potential changes nor has the State Superintendent suggested this for the recommendations. Per John DeBacher, if legislative change is needed such impact analysis does occur for new bills. Agencies such as the Department of Public Instruction have budget analysts who provide a fiscal analysis of a bill or the Legislative Fiscal Bureau upon request for specific bills provide an analysis.

Workgroup membership does include individuals with experience with budget development or cost projections. Depending on workgroup needs additional information or guidance can come from Project Managers, Steering Committee, and/or the Funding and Cost Standards Subcommittee.  In addition, the Funding and Cost Standards Subcommittee has been gathering information on revenue sources and expenditures by library systems to provide the Steering Committee with a fiscal snapshot. Members of the Funding Subcommittee have been working with the library system business managers to develop this snapshot.

With the various inputs, there should be a good snapshot of the what is currently being spent on services to libraries and how those services are funded so they can be compared to the new model projected costs, which workgroups are calculating ballpark figures for as best they can knowing any phased-in implementation of any parts of the service model recommendations they are developing may be a number of years out. Transition costs and their funding sources will vary based on how the various parts of the services models are implemented.

Will jobs be lost?
We don’t know. Workgroups will make staffing recommendations as part of their reports to Steering. The Steering Committee will then work with the larger library community to craft recommendations related to overall structure to be given to DPI.  It won’t be until DPI makes decisions about implementation that we will know more about staffing for the new models.

What will specifically change for my small library?
We don’t know.  Until the Steering Committee recommendations are submitted to DPI , and DPI makes decisions about implementation, it’s difficult to know what will change.  However, our hope is that the new models will mean improved services and/or lower costs for all libraries in the state. The Principles of Structure Development will help guide Steering with the proposed changes and will be evaluated based on impacts to libraries regardless of their size.

Where will the members of the the Core Recommendation Collaborators (CRC), be recruited from and what criteria will be used to select the CRC?
The preliminary idea for the Core Recommendation Collaborators (CRC) was discussed at the December 7, 2017 meeting.  The December minutes provide additional information on that discussion. The Steering Committee with advisement from Russell Consulting, Inc. and the Department of Public Instruction will be finalizing the job description as well as the application, recruitment and selection process for the Core Recommendation Collaborators (CRC) at our January 18, 2018 Steering Committee meeting.

To view workgroup-specific questions, click the tabs along the side of this pane for the workgroup you are interested in.

Are you thinking about how some of these changes could impact things like county funding/standards, etc.? If regions are not county based, will the group be considering that?
The county funding and library standards were not referenced in Joint Finance Committee recommendations related to the PLSR process (i.e. DPI should undertake a process to evaluate and make recommendations about the collaborative library services). County payments to libraries do not require libraries to be members of a system.

However, the workgroup and Steering Committee understand that for some systems county relationships are very important. The workgroup is building expertise about state law that we need to be thoughtful and cautious about. The workgroup and the Steering Committee does not want to damage anything in the process of making changes.

Additionally, each system has been surveyed about how they work with their counties and how they assist their libraries with county relationships and work. The responses show that each system has a slightly different relationship and the process will be mindful of that.

Maine went from 3 districts to 9. It seems as though they have expanded. Have you looked at states like this?
Maine has been looked at by the workgroup. Maine actually went from 3 districts (similar to our PL Systems) to a centralized single district model for the whole state. Within the old 3 district model, there were library consultants that were generalists in each district. In their switch to a centralized state model, the library consultants are now specialists. These specialists are each assigned to be the main consultant contact for 9 service regions within the single statewide district.

Accountability is such a big piece. Will accountability be in workgroup recommendations or in Steering Committee work?
Accountability will be a feature of the recommendations that come from the Steering Committee. It will also be part of each workgroup’s recommendation report. They have been asked to think about the oversight that is needed to make the service is accountable to those they serve and can evolve as expectations and needs change.

What is the goal in terms of timeline?
The workgroup is monitoring what is going on in workgroups and will be ready when models are presented to the Steering Committee.

Does the group have software in mind for digitization?
Not yet. It has not been settled upon, and while the group may have thoughts related to hardware and software, the final report will likely recommend mechanisms for choosing the best hardware and software rather than specific vendors or resources.

Any idea of the number of regional centers?
Not yet. This is still to be determined and may hinge, in part, on other workgroup recommendations.

Database and collective purchasing? Isn’t that what WiLS already does? Isn’t there already a statewide service providing digitization hosting? Are we recreating the wheel that’s working well?
What already exists in the state is an important component in the work of the Collections group. The group set about trying to imagine what an ideal collections model would look like without immediately considering what exists right now, in order to be open to new ideas. However, these collaborative efforts are functional and will certainly be considered in the final recommendations. Understanding the relationship of their models to existing services is something the workgroup will work through very carefully in upcoming meetings.

Is the Collections Discovery Layer a separate discovery point or part of the ILS Discovery layer?
This is envisioned as a statewide portal, which may have an overlap with other workgroup models that also envision a central point where answers can be found (CE calendar, FAQs related to ILS’, etc.).

If there is centralized authentication and there’s a statewide patron database, how do you handle when one library has a subscription but not others? How do you propose handling authentication issues?
The Collections workgroup will work with the Technology workgroup to figure out the best way to handle the issue or what the process for determining the protocols might be.

Do you have a baseline of electronic services yet?
No. The workgroup will not have specific recommendations for databases or electronic resources, but will have recommendations for how those decisions are made.

Will the electronic resources model include support for authentication and statistics for these resources?
Yes, the Electronic Resources model will include support for statistics and authentication.

Some of our libraries have produced local genealogical & local history indexes. Will there be a way to include these in the statewide discovery site?
The group has talked about and will continue talking about how we will work to include local genealogical resources as much as we can in a statewide resource. Although the details are yet to come, the hope is to funnel as much as we can into the DPLA collection. And finally, we are working with the ILL/ILS workgroup on how the discovery of digital and electronic resources will be accomplished with these new models.

What will this look like organizationally?
Working up an organizational structure is one of the workgroup’s next steps.

Will the 53 FTE that are proposed in this model be dedicated to continuing education and consulting work or will they also fill other service roles?
The workgroup sees the 53 FTE being dedicated to CE and consulting, though it is possible some of this staff may have other roles.

Who will this staff work for?
What overall structure will exist and how that may be implemented will be determined by the Steering Committee and DPI after they receive the recommendations from Steering.

How did this group arrive at the number of FTE?
The workgroup considered systems where there is a high level of satisfaction and considered the CE and consulting staff ratios to libraries to develop staffing levels.  This is a difficult part of developing this service model as the work is very dependent on people and there is not data available to easily understand what demand is or may be.  With this nearly doubling the number of staff currently doing CE and consulting in systems, the workgroup understands the staffing level may be something they need to adjust as they get more feedback and further develop their model.

Consulting for ILS and Technology are not included in your model, why not?
There was a topic team formed from the different workgroups to discuss what consulting and training would fall to the CE and Consulting workgroup and what would fall to being handled as part of the other service workgroup models.  The ILS and Technology workgroups are factoring consulting for those areas in their models.

Considering the growth in staff that is proposed and the question of where funding might come from to support this, have alternatives to hiring staff been considered such as contracting for areas like legal advice?
The workgroup has briefly discussed this but will consider this more as they refine their model.

How will this new model be able to fund positions such as facility consultants that because of funding cutbacks are not largely available today? Will the facilities positions be staffed in geographical areas of the state that make the most sense as far as serving individual libraries? Is it anticipated that these positions will do some on-site consulting? 
The charge of our workgroup was to develop a service model that we feel best meets the many needs of public libraries across Wisconsin and we identified facilities consultation as one of those areas.

We tried to identify the kinds of facility services and resources libraries need and then tried to balance that with the many other consultant needs that exist. As for how those positions will be funded, that is a question to be answered by the PLSR Steering Committee as it takes all the service models and brings them together into a cohesive statewide service package.

Our proposal is for two facilities consultants to serve the entire state, and we envision that they would be available to provide on-site library consultation. There are a lot of questions remaining, much of it around funding. Unfortunately, we can’t answer those questions at this point because that piece hasn’t been addressed yet by the Steering Committee.  Our advise is to stay tuned, and stay involved.

Is the “prime directive” or chief objective of the delivery model to improve service or reduce cost?
Both. The main goal is to really improve service and create equitable service across the state.  By restructuring regional and statewide delivery, the workgroup is finding that improved service equity may likely be possible within the current dollars spent on library delivery in the state.

Do you see an issue with conflicting regions between Delivery/ILS/Technology?
From a pure delivery standpoint, it should not matter if the ILS and Delivery regions are different if delivery is next day between regions.  However, having two delivery hubs serve different libraries that are part of the same ILS would increase the amount of volume, and cost, that would be shipped between the two hubs.  Because of this, as part of implementation recommendations it will be important that Delivery, ILS and Technology regions evolve together to not end up with different service regions.

What will be the process in making decision to go with a vendor or self-run system?
The group has not yet determined this process, but understands the need to examine existing, internal costs, for example, at South Central Library System delivery and compare this against private courier options. The workgroup is discussing a framework for their recommendations that would state a range of expected cost to serve a region or connect regions based on their research.  Part of implementation recommendations could be that actual request for proposals be put out to make final determinations about whether a vendor or self-run model is best for each region and how regions are connected.

How did you determine the need was next day?
The workgroup wanted to examine the equity issue, making sure all libraries had access to a standard delivery timeline and examine what is the ideal, affordable solution that will minimally maintain the quality of service that exists in currently.  Next day does currently exist within many regions for libraries that are receiving 5-day per week service and in the statewide service provided by SCLS.  It is likely in many, and possibly, all parts of the state that next day can be achieved through smart logistics planning at no additional cost over 2-day service.

Why is the model in such a hurry when in some cases nobody is there to pick them up? How many patrons expect next day delivery of materials from the library?
The workgroup recognizes that we are a convenience driven society and libraries need to compete in this world. Practicalities and cost will of course come into the model, but the model is intended to provide the best possible service that meets modern day patron expectations.  While it is an inefficiency to ship materials that patrons do not pick up, SCLS once studied this to determine how many hold items do not get picked up and it was less than 6% at the time.

There are many folks do this already well, in particular logistics and delivery experts. Does the workgroup have any intention to use firms/private vendors as comparisons (fedex, other private vendors etc.)?
The workgroup did put out a request for information from vendors and received two responses. The group’s Review Panel, which will review documents and the delivery model and offer feedback, has experts from the library world as well as a trucking company owner. There is a possibility that a UW logistics class will use the model as a class exercise and will offer feedback. The workgroup additionally has a contact with Schneider Trucking. And, while the outside expertise is incredibly valuable, the workgroup is made up of highly experienced providers and users of delivery systems as well.

What are the specific numbers in terms of cost and service?
There are over 18 million items shipped from one library to another in the state per year.  This equates to about 3 items for every Wisconsin resident.  The cost to ship an item from library to another is approximately $0.21 per item, so it is quite economical right now. The group hopes to increase service without increasing costs.  Right now, about 30% of what is spent on library delivery funds transporting just 3% of the volume on statewide routes while 70% of the funding supports transporting 97% of the volume within the 16 systems regional delivery services.

What will need to be standardized at the local level? What has been discussed in terms of automation?
There are things that will need to be standardized but automation is not part of the plan. Uniform size of container for statistical analyzation and standard labels are part of the model recommendations. Automation would require a high amount of capital to RFID tag all library materials in the state and purchase Automated Material Handling (AMH) equipment.  AMH equipment does still require staff to operate and currently manual sortation rates can achieve the same rates as AMH, so at a delivery hub there likely would not be a return on investment to achieve cost savings.  The benefit of any AMH with delivery would actually be for the benefit saving staff time at libraries handling delivery.

Is this service model an “all or nothing” proposition as far as adoption goes? Or, is there any way to phase it or test it with a pilot project hub to expose flaws and correct them before “going big”?
The workgroup has talked briefly about phasing in and test-piloting. While we are not in a position to know for sure what implementation will look like, going in stages makes sense. The group does have an opportunity to collect more feedback prior to April 2nd when the workgroup report will be handed to the Steering Committee. Additionally, we have not even scratched the surface of how this would be funded as this has not been the workgroup’s role to consider at this time.

What would be managed centrally? What would be determined at the regional/hub level?
Administratively, the workgroup believes that a central body would be necessary to oversee/negotiate contracts (for private vendors), delivery standards, safety, centralized purchasing, and coordination. How this would be staffed and from where is yet to be determined, but it would be critical to a successful end-product.

At the hub level, the group foresees a need to supervise a physical hub location if the region was operated as an in-house service. This could handle local delivery problems and manage the delivery staff. This would necessitate acquiring a physical location, staff, and equipment. However, a region may (as a collection of libraries) decide to have a private courier handle all aspects of sorting and delivery within their own network and facilities too.

Each region would oversee a competitive bid process with some very specific standards listed in order to ensure high quality and an ability to provide long-term service without risk of abandoning a contract.

What is the difference between the ILL/ILS model and a statewide ILS?
The proposed model should allow patrons to locate materials from all participating public libraries in the state through a shared discovery layer while still allowing individual ILSs to have their own local policies.

The ILL/ILS team is not recommending a statewide ILS based on other states’ experiences, which have shown that the largest libraries in the state do not typically participate in the statewide ILS.  The model chooses to avoid forcing all libraries into a single ILS system and instead will encourage larger units of service for the ILS Consortium, along with the centralized discovery layer.

If the goal is for every resident to access all the materials at every library, how are you handling Milwaukee Public access?
Milwaukee County Federated Library System is supportive of the model and the process, and a member of MCFLS, Milwaukee Public Library is supportive as well.

Is there any technology or application that meets the needs or is the workgroup looking to develop the technology?
There are examples that have multiple ILS’ communicating under a single umbrella currently in production.

Does this model incorporate the small ILS in the discovery layer?
Yes, every library within reason will be incorporated. The only exceptions may be old systems that may be impossible to incorporate.

Do you have a timeline for presenting scenarios and moving toward final recommendations?
The scenarios are not completed yet. After WLA (October 2017), the workgroup will meet in person to create 3-4 models to put in front of the review panel.

Is this workgroup’s timeline different from other groups?
No. The Resource Library workgroup has the same deadline as all the other workgroups and will be presenting their recommendations at a meeting in February 2018. Although the group needs to check their models against final recommendations from the other workgroups, the scenarios can be worked on without all of the details in place.

The model shows basic/optional/add-on services — does basic services mean there is there no cost to provide it?
The workgroups have not been charged with answering the question of how the services will be funded.   Even in the existing collaborative library services ecosystem, there is a cost to the basic standard of service, whether that is paid by the libraries or the systems or another source. The model, like all other models, is not “free” and there are costs associated with services. However, it reimagines how funds that are already spent can be better used to ensure equitable service across the state.

There are libraries that are not at the standards currently. How do you bring them up without drastically raising their costs? How do you get to equity?
The entire PLSR process, including the technology service model, is a real effort to get at equity. The workgroup understands that their model has to be built for equity without costing libraries too much. Equity does not mean every library gets the exact same resources. For example, not all libraries need the same number of computers, but they need the same opportunity to access resources that best serve their communities. One way to do this is to leverage economies of scale to increase access to technology.

How do you build a structure for the technology service model without knowing numbers?
The workgroup does have numbers for costs in terms of infrastructure, hardware, software and even staffing. What the group does not know is how the costs will be funded, which will be part of the Steering Committee work.