The future of Nicholas P. Sims Library was discussed at length at a Waxahachie City Council work session held Wednesday. David Price with Averus Library Consulting presented his five-month study of the library and it operations.
“We started out and did a performance evaluation of Sims Library and also compared Sims to other libraries in the area. We have worked with smaller libraries to find the best direction for the future,” Price said. “You are really best with a great group of people who want the best for Sims.”
During this fiscal year the city has provided funding for the library totaling $1.1 million, which was taken from ad valorem tax revenue. The library spends 35 percent of the funding on children and teens, 20 percent is spent on adult users and 10 percent on special services relating to genealogy and local history. The remaining 35 percent is spent on general operations and administration. The library has 14,510 active library cards and 1,100 inactive cards.
“There is no formal vision for the library. It is important to let people know where we are going. I have asked the library board to come up with a vision statement and to bring it back to the council for discussion,” Price said. “I am also recommending that the library become a part of the formal budget process. This will give the council the opportunity to learn about the library like other departments and to know where the money is going.”
Price said that healthcare makes up a significant part of the library budget, $141,500 through United HealthCare. The high costs are due to the small number of employees that the library has. It was suggested that the library might join with other local health plan pools to reduce cost.
It was also recommended to make Sims a part of the city’s comprehensive plan. This would allow the library to be used as another marketing tool to support and attract new business, educational institutions and healthcare facilities.
It was suggested to the council that the library look to consolidate its print collection to around 60,000 items. At present the library contains 126,000 print items. The reduction in its collection would allow the library to renovate areas creating spaces for technology, study and leisure making the build more inviting. This remodel would include new furniture that is technology ready. These chairs and tables would be wired so that a laptop could plug right into them and draw power. The possible remodel could close the library in November with it reopening to patrons around the beginning of January.
The books that would be pulled from the library’s collection would be sold through the establishment of a Friend’s of the Library bookstore. Several options for this store would be locating it in downtown or selling books through the farmers market.
Price said the size of the collection is calculated at 4.67 items per capita, which is about twice the size of the collection that is needed to effectively serve city residents.
One suggestion that the library board has put into place is raise the rates from $25 to $35 a year for out of city library cards. Currently city residents are paying around $100 each year for library services from taxes. This change would help to even out the costs.
The study was funded by the city and the library who each paid for half of the $15,000 fee charged by Averus Library Consulting.
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