Minutes of the Merlin Consortium
February 18, 2016 (via GoToWebinar and in-person at NWLS)
I. Call to Order
Chair Courtney Dietsche called the meeting to order at 10:04 a.m.
Since this was the first Merlin meeting for Angela Bodzislaw (Spooner) and Sherry Machones (NWLS), Courtney invited people to make introductions.
II. Quorum Determination/Recognition of Proxies
Quorum (of 15 members) was determined with the following attendees: Linda Stobbe, Mike Sheehan, Marsha Sorensen (NWLS); Shirley Miller (Ashland); Blair Nelson (Bayfield); Cherie Sanderson (Boulder Junction) [online]; Kristine Lendved (Cable) [online]; Nan Andrew (Eagle River) [online]; Kristina Kelley-Johnson (Grantsburg) [online]; Molly Lank-Jones (Hayward); Courtney Dietsche (Iron River); Julie Zelten (Land o’ Lakes) [online]; Jennie Thewis (Mellen); Teresa Schmidt (Mercer) [online]; Cari Hutton (Phelps) [online]; Pam Eschenbauch (Presque Isle) [online]; Ida Nemec (Sayner) [online]; Amy Stormberg (Shell Lake); Angela Bodzislaw and Jane Frankiewicz (Spooner); Linda Olson and Sue Heskin (Superior) [online]; Darrell Pendergrass (Washburn); Patti Meyer (Webster) [online].
No proxies were mentioned.
III. Approval of the November 12, 2015 Consortium Meeting Minutes
Molly Lank-Jones moved to approve the minutes. Seconded by Amy Stormberg. There were no comments. Passed unanimously.
IV. Approval of Financial Reports
Linda Stobbe presented the Merlin financial statement for the end of 2015 as well as the financial statement for February 2016. Shirley Miller moved to accept the financial statements as presented. Seconded by Jane Frankiewicz. There were no comments. Passed unanimously.
V. Other Business
Long Range Planning Committee Update
Shirley Miller noted that most of the committee were able to meet via webinar in January to review the final changes to the Merlin Long Range Plan. The Plan is now being presented for last comments and Consortium adoption. Marsha Sorensen made a suggestion for future consideration for the plan to acknowledge that Merlin exists as a collaboration between member libraries and NWLS to expand services to patrons. Jane Frankiewicz expressed her surprise that Merlin was started without a mission statement. It was noted that the creation of a mission statement was added as a new part of the Plan. Marsha had also made some notes that she will forward to the committee for reference during the committee review period of the Plan. Several members expressed gratitude for the committee in their work in developing the Plan.
Darrell Pendergrass moved to accept the Merlin Long Range Plan as presented at this meeting. Jane Frankiewicz seconded. Shirley Miller commented that it is the desire of the committee to develop the mission statement this year. Passed unanimously.
Eliminating Net Lend/Borrow Column from Merlin Funding Formula Calculation
Mike Sheehan introduced the discussion by providing some background on the move from a license-centric funding formula to the current formula for those members who were not here when the move happened in 2012. The Merlin Budget Revision Committee at that time (composed of Jim Trojanowski, Mike Sheehan, Courtney Dietsche, Sue Heskin, and Teresa Schmidt) made an effort to incorporate a net lend/borrow credit/surcharge to address two concerns consortium members often expressed: the lack of reimbursement to net lenders and the perception that some libraries are reluctant to lend freely. By creating a credit or debit, there is both an incentive to lend and encouragement for borrowers to build strong collections.
Sheehan further commented that the Merlin Consortium never adjusted the amounts in the formula so it is difficult to tell if the credit/surcharge piece has ever met its purpose. In order to do so may require raising the 3% cap to something higher, while reducing the dependency on the collection and circulation percentages in the formula. Sheehan did point out that looking at the amounts libraries have spent on materials in the last 5 years indicates overall that libraries are spending less which calls into the question the ability to build strong collections.
Sheehan asked Linda Stobbe if dropping the credit/surcharge piece would have any impact on the phase-in of the old formula to the new one (in which members are in the fourth of the five years). Stobbe responded that it has no impact to the phase-in. Teresa Schmidt and Sue Heskin both remarked that the small percentage allocated for the credit/surcharge is minimal and by eliminating it this would simplify the budget.
Teresa Schmidt made a motion to direct Linda Stobbe to remove the net lend/borrow lines when calculating the 2017 Merlin fees. Shirley Miller seconded. Passed unanimously.
Darrell Pendergrass and Shirley Miller discovered during a discussion they were having about a patron that they had different permissions for waiving fines so they were curious why and what other permissions vary from library to library. Marsha Sorensen explained that with the switch to Sierra NWLS removed the permission to waive fines for non-fining libraries since if a library does not accrue a fine they should not have to waive a fine. It also keeps a library from inadvertently waiving fines on other library materials, which Sorensen was seeing happening quite often.
Mike Sheehan had commented that other than that permission, library logins are all the same from library to library with the “all” levels having all permissions excluding deleting patrons and merging patrons. The “task” level were equal to the “all” level except they could not access Create Lists & Statistics.
Many libraries notes their displeasure with not having access to the merging and deleting functions for patrons and wanted to have access again. A few expressed they were content with their current login setups.
Sheehan mentioned that it has been a little over three years since we moved to Sierra with these new login structures, so maybe this a good time to conduct a login audit by revising logins and adding permissions through individual library meetings/discussions. Marsha Sorensen was also advised to include a list of things to keep in mind related to broadened responsibility with permissions.
Sheehan will begin conducting login audits this spring.
Courtney Dietsche then called for a five minute break and the meeting resumed at 11:18.
Mike Sheehan provided a brief update on where catalogers were in their assessments. Generally he was satisfied with the results and has only needed to arrange for a couple of refreshers so far.
Sheehan noted that it was asked at one of the fall 2015 Cataloging meetings if he had ever conducted a thorough cataloging study. Sheehan responded that he had not, but is expecting to follow the assessments with a study on all cataloging areas in April. Performing a study would allow Sheehan to look at individual cataloging practices as well as check against cataloging as a whole within a timeframe to measure where things are good and find places needing attention.
Shirley Miller asked if the results had helped in identifying training needs or for modifying training. Sheehan responded that it had and the assessments had shown areas to address in the future as well as what to modify for any future assessments.
Mike Sheehan provided a brief report on the state of Integrated Library Systems nationally, locally, and statewide. The hope is that the information provided can be used by the Consortium when formulating technology strategies as a part of the Long Range Plan.
Molly Lank-Jones asked for a clarification or understanding of what is currently happening in Wisconsin regarding the Public Library System Redesign (PLSR) project. Mike Sheehan and Sherry Machones provided some background and information on activities taking place, including the public library survey on satisfaction levels regarding systems. The PLSR main committee is meeting March 10 and will use data from the surveys in their planning.
Libraries’ Circulation Decreases and Ways to Improve Circulation
Darrell Pendergrass had noticed after looking at the year-end statistics posted on the NWLS website that most libraries’ circulation decreased again in 2015. He did see circulation for Burnett County libraries increased and wondered what they were doing that others might take advantage. Pendergrass mentioned that this is something the Consortium rarely discusses.
Jane Frankiewicz remarked that her circulation was down in 2015 but her library traffic was higher than normal. She felt that the circulation decrease was not attributed to digital media usage increases.
Mike Sheehan pointed to trends system-wide, statewide, and nationally that library circulation has been decreasing since peaking around 2009/2010. Merlin libraries are not unique in what is occurring.
Darrell said that he had asked Marsha Sorensen what those Burnett County libraries were doing and Marsha noted that one thing Grantsburg and Webster libraries promote is holds on Merlin. Those libraries are in the top tier for holds placement in Merlin.
Molly Lank-Jones mentioned that building projects for expansions and new libraries will increase circulation, at least until the “newness” wears off.
Jane Frankiewicz mentioned that maybe librarians are encountering wave crests and troughs based on societal interest in libraries. She reminded the group that sometimes we have to look at data in a broader picture.
Kristina Kelley-Johnson attributed her increase to the “1,000 Books Before Kinder-garten” program they were involved with and in greater after-school programming. Their holds increase may have come from their placing their holdshelf out in the public view.
Blair Nelson mentioned their concerns with decreases and they plan to push for patrons to place holds, and also develop partnerships with schools to get students into the library. They will also focus on marketing services and from all these efforts will monitor what works for them.
Marsha Sorensen asked the group to recognize that for a while DVDs became the top circulating material, but now that usage is decreasing as Netflix and other video streaming services become more cheap and accessible.
Sherry Machones mentioned that what she did at Edgerton to keep circulation from dropping and would be happy to share her “gimmicks” for others to use.
Patti Meyer will share with the group her list of things they did at her library.
Sue Heskin talked about her newsletter and use of SelectReads newsletters and will share this information with the group as well.
Next meeting date: After sone discussion it was decided that the next meeting will take place May 18, 2016 at 10:00 am (in-person) at NWLS with a Director’s Meeting to follow at 1 pm.
Shirley moved for adjournment of the meeting at 11:57 a.m. and Jane Frankiewicz seconded. Passed unanimously.