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