The Waxahachie City Council took the first step in planning for the future of Nicholas P. Sims Library and its patrons at its meeting Monday night. The council approved hiring A Verus Corporation Library Consulting to conduct a study of the library and its operations.

“At our last budget work session, we discussed conducting an evaluation of Sims Library. In talking about how to proceed with the evaluation at a staff level, we thought the city and library might both be best served by using a consultant who specializes in this type of evaluation,” city manager Paul Stevens said.

“We have found a company called A Verus Corporation Library Consulting headed by David Price. Several of us met with Mr. Price last week and the consensus is that Mr. Price’s service would meet the needs of this evaluation.”

Stevens said Price has served as library director, a deputy city manager and has been performing library consulting for the past 15 years. The evaluation would include a statistical performance of the library, financial analysis, community assessment, assessment of the library by library staff and the board of directors, evaluation of the library building and establishment of a technology plan. The fee for this service is $15,000. It was recommended and approved by the council that the fee be split equally by city and the library. The review is planned to begin within two to three weeks and is scheduled to be completed by Feb. 28.

Councilman Mark Singleton said by having a third party come in to evaluate will help quantify the value of the library in the community and plan for the future. It will also help the council determine the level of effort and the tax level that the city should be able to commit to.

In the 2010-2011 fiscal year the library requested $1,231,500 and the amount approved by the city was $1,037,000. For 2011-2012 fiscal year budget the library was budgeted $1,037,000 for operations. The library receives municipal funding through a pass-through ad valorem tax set by that year’s tax base. This year’s rate is $0.04818 per $100 evaluation. The library charter, which was adopted in the late 1920s or early 1930s, allows the council to determine what tax level it wants to set for the library.

The library operates as an independent nonprofit organization. The city council provides a liaison to foster communication between the library board and the city.

Councilman Kevin Strength said the city is not against the library and is very proud of the service it offers to the community. By having a consultant come in it will provide a better understanding of the mission of the library and provide information that will make the library better for the future, Strength said.

According to A Verus Corporations Library Consulting website some of the services they provide include library strategic and long-range planning, financial planning, budget review, technology planning, program and operations evaluations. Clients that have used this consulting firm include

Abilene Library Consortium, Mansfield Public Library, Tom Green County Library, Laredo Public Library, Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University.

Stevens said the evaluation will provide the city council with better financial understanding of the library and will help to give an excellent direction for the library’s future.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.