BCCLS Strategic Plan (ADOPTED 6-15-2017)
Adopted at the June 15, 2017 System Council Meeting
In 2016, the BCCLS Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) was formed to develop a process, gather information, and create the first BCCLS Strategic Plan. This Plan was developed through extensive research, feedback and engagement of the membership and BCCLS office staff through a series of focus groups and surveying. This feedback, the result of rigorous, analytical, and oftentimes passionate conversations about the future of BCCLS, identified the priorities, challenges, and various needs and desires of the membership. As a result, the SPTF identified seven goals as outlined in the Strategic Plan, which will be the guiding document and a tool to carry the membership through the next three years.
In 1979, a small group of Bergen County library directors came together to come up with ways to seamlessly share resources in order to maximize individual library dollars spent on materials. Initial funding assistance came from the New Jersey State Library and the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the latter of which has provided funding annually since 1979. By 1987, library automation had begun within the Bergen County Computer Consortium, technically a separate organization until its merger with BCCLS in 1989. By 1990, almost all existing Bergen County public libraries had joined BCCLS, and BCCLS welcomed its first non-Bergen library (Louis Bay 2nd Library in Hawthorne) in 1992. Now comprised of 77 member libraries, BCCLS has taken on many different responsibilities through the years, including training for library staff, maintenance of library networking infrastructure, and the eBCCLS digital collection, to name just a select few.
Strategic Planning Timeline
By December 2015, the eight members of the Strategic Planning Task Force (Amy Babcock-Landry, Jennifer Breuer, Marie Coughlin, Dave Franz, Terrie McColl, Samantha McCoy, Arlene Sahraie and Gina Webb-Metz) were selected, and the extensive strategic planning survey was sent to all BCCLS member library directors. 74 of 77 libraries completed the survey by the January 2016 deadline, and the SPTF met for the first time in February to assess the results and come up with major themes and goals to address in the Plan. The SPTF met again in March to prepare for the series of six small group meetings that occurred in April and May; five meetings were held for directors and the sixth was held for the BCCLS office staff. The SPTF met again in June to synthesize the verbal feedback received from the small group meetings. Additional brainstorming and writing took place over the summer, with additional meetings held in October and December that achieved significant breakthroughs with the Plan. Final discussions for this proposed Plan took place in January and February 2017, where the pieces of the Plan were brought together into one document. In between meetings, there had been extensive writing, brainstorming and sharing of ideas.
“We empower our member libraries. Through cost-effective resource sharing, mindful innovation, and a commitment to collaboration, BCCLS provides a dynamic common framework made stronger by the uniqueness of its member libraries.”
BCCLS will foster more opportunities for collaboration between office staff and member library directors and staff in order to develop and accomplish a variety of visionary goals. BCCLS understands the evolving technological needs of member libraries and will harness its collective power to purchase and implement new infrastructure regularly. BCCLS will prioritize professional development opportunities for all levels of library staff as well as for library trustees and Friends. Finally, BCCLS will work with regional and statewide partners to increase engagement with libraries among residents and nurture new library champions.
We value efficiency and exalt appropriate stewardship of public funding. The number one value cited within the 2016 Library Survey was reciprocal borrowing. Reciprocal borrowing extends the value of our collections beyond each member library. Approximately 30 percent of all patron borrowing is fulfilled from some other library within the System.
We value shared leadership. We recognize the diverse talents and backgrounds of the personnel among our membership. We are governed by a fully-elected Executive Board. Committees are the backbone of BCCLS and are comprised of professional and para-professionals alike. Products, services, and ideas find their origin at any level within the organization and they are evaluated and measured prior to adoption by the System Council.
We value the wisdom of our peers. Through workshops, presentations, professional training, and discussion groups, each member is afforded the opportunity to learn from others. Our extensive collective experience provides for the evolution of “best practices” system-wide.
We value the public which we serve. We deliver better service to our individual communities through participation in a consortial setting.
BCCLS continues to build on a record of accomplishments that help its member libraries provide cost-effective and high-quality library services to the communities they serve. Among BCCLS more recent accomplishments:
1) BCCLS has offered 105 scholarships to students pursuing Masters of Library Science while working at BCCLS member libraries and/or living in BCCLS communities since 2002. These 105 scholarships have totaled $133,000 between 2002 and 2016.
2) During the last 5 years, BCCLS member libraries have consistently circulated over 10 million items each year, with over 2 million items circulating reciprocally.
3) eBCCLS was born in 2012. If eBCCLS were its own physical library, it would have the highest circulation among BCCLS member libraries. The future landscape for digital content is exciting and BCCLS aims to continue growing this important collection.
4) In late 2012, the BCCLS migration to Polaris was completed. This was a huge undertaking given the size of the organization and the need for all levels of staff to be trained in this core product.
5) The implementation of the Knowledge Base in 2014 as a central repository for important governance, committee and training documents. In 2016 alone, there were 175,931 views of all articles found on the Knowledge Base.
6) BCCLS now has a thriving Friends of the Library Committee that was created in early 2015 to help engage these groups of people who are vital to so many of our member libraries.
7) The increase in the Bergen County Grant in 2015, the first since peak levels of funding were decreased dramatically as a result of the 2008 recession.
8) The creation of BCCLS Discover in 2016 for all things literary. There has been a strong desire among our membership to go back to our roots as readers' advisors and promote our vast amount of knowledge more to our communities, with an expanded scope including films, music, etc.
9) In 2016, nearly 3,000 member library staff have attended training sessions, Tech Talks, and BCCLSChats.
10) As of March 2017, core network switches have been upgraded at 74 of 77 member libraries. This upgrade has dramatically improved network speeds and supportability.
Strategic Areas of Focus: Goals and Objectives
EB - Executive Board
SC - System Council
ED - Executive Director
MEM - Membership
BO - BCCLS Office
SCHOLAR - Scholarship Committee
LAMP - Committee on Library Administration, Management and Personnel
TECH - Technology Committee
PR - Public Relations Committee
eBC - eBCCLS Committee
GR - Government Relations & Public Policy Committee
CDR - Collection Development & Reference Committee
DIR – Directors
FOL – Friends of the Library Committee
RTF - Reciprocity Task Force
TD - Trustee Development Committee
TBD - To Be Determined
1.0 Awareness and Advocacy
Awareness and advocacy are crucial elements for both the internal (staff, trustees, and Friends of member libraries) and external (the general public as well as local, county and state officials) understanding of BCCLS. BCCLS is not a county library system in the traditional sense. It is not a single system with top-down management and primary funding from the Boards of Chosen Freeholders in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic Counties. It is a library system built from independent, publicly-funded libraries that have joined together to form a cooperative system with shared resources as its primary goal. This unusual structure leads to confusion among member library stakeholders, the general public, and elected officials. Communication tools are needed to address the internal needs of member library staff, the value of membership in BCCLS, relations among member library directors, and advocacy efforts to promote the overall value of public libraries.
In collaboration with the membership, the BCCLS office staff will determine training priorities and identify resources best suited to achieve specific goals. Training inspiration will come from BCCLS committees, member libraries, and the BCCLS office. Training will address the needs of staff, trustees, and Friends to better serve our communities. BCCLS staff will determine current and future training needs of consortium members and create both an annual and multi-year plan to ensure theses goals are met. Funds will be allocated annually for training purposes which include in-house and outside consultants. BCCLS will develop collaborative training opportunities with other library-related organizations (e.g. New Jersey State Library, LibraryLinkNJ, New Jersey Library Trustee Association, PALS Plus, MAIN, LMxAC, etc.) BCCLS will work to increase funding for the BCCLS Scholarship Fund to provide support for those pursuing certifications and advanced degrees related to librarianship and determine potential additional funding sources.
The BCCLS bill for each member library has historically not been clearly tied to the annual BCCLS budget and its many line items. The Strategic Planning Task Force aimed to create a stable, equitable, and transparent financial environment where all member library directors, staff and trustees can easily understand how BCCLS operates. While questions and feedback are always expected and encouraged, a healthy financial environment is one where member libraries understand the BCCLS budget each year.
Additionally, more than 97% of funding for BCCLS comes from publicly-funded member libraries. BCCLS should seek opportunities for generating additional revenue from other sources. Finally, an Innovation Fund should be built into the BCCLS budget each year to allow BCCLS office staff and committees to experiment with the latest services and tools that could prove beneficial to the wider membership; BCCLS should strive to be early adopters of new services and tools, much like it was with Leap, which has proven to be an extremely fruitful decision financially.
It was apparent from the survey results and throughout the small group meetings that the membership is undecided on the role and the level of marketing and promotion to be done on behalf of member libraries by BCCLS. Since there were so many differing opinions, the Plan calls for the membership to make a concerted effort to come to consensus on what level and to which audience BCCLS should market itself and its services. This will be achieved through additional small group meetings with recommendations and a marketing plan developed from those discussions. In addition, another recurring concern that arose was how best to define “what BCCLS is” to the public and our overall brand. As a result, another objective is to better reflect our current organization through rebranding and/or renaming the consortium with an update to the BCCLS logo. The Plan recommends hiring a professional consultant to assist with this venture. On a broader scale, the Plan also calls for BCCLS to partner with other systems within the state with the overall goal of promoting libraries. By working together for the common goal of educating the public and our stakeholders of the value and services provided by libraries, it leverages opportunities and adds strength to our message.
Technology is defined here as being the combination of hardware, software, and related services that are utilized within the BCCLS office or maintained by BCCLS in the field for use by member libraries. An initial technology report was provided at the September 2016 System Council, which was well-received. An annual technology report shall be delivered to the membership to improve the understanding of existing and future needs. This shall be based upon a master technology plan that includes a budget for maintenance and upgrades of hardware. The plan shall be continually evaluated as the security, connectivity, and infrastructure requirements evolve.
While the process of suggesting and adopting new services has been fluid and flexible in the past, there has been no clear path established for the continued evaluation and potential elimination of services or policies related thereto. A set of criteria for implementing and evaluating new programs, software, and technologies shall be determined. This review process should become a regular function of the BCCLS Office with the appropriate committee.
Discovery of digital content and catalog enhancements are unifying concerns among the membership. The Technology, Collection Development & Reference and eBCCLS Committees will continue to explore opportunities to improve the ease with which the public can find and use what they are seeking.
As the BCCLS membership grew during its first decade of existence, In the mid-1980s, BCCLS moved to its current office at 810 Main Street in Hackensack, but the membership has since grown from 21 libraries to 77 libraries. Due to this dramatic growth, the office staff has grown and/or has been restructured and BCCLS has played a bigger role in developing technological infrastructure for all member libraries, and these changes strongly necessitate a new office location. The Executive Director is currently exploring opportunities for a new location and assessing the current needs for a central office.
BCCLS also must continue to assess its central office staffing needs to determine whether the existing structure and number of staff allow for additional services to be supported through the office. While we are all cognizant of the need to continue to innovate and provide services that make a positive difference in the workflows of member library directors and staff, decisions must be made on whether other services can be or should be sacrificed or if additional staff are required to provide the membership with what it desires, obviously at an additional cost. This issue is also compounded by the anticipated evolution of our membership structure. Will more libraries seek to join BCCLS in the future? Will entire municipalities without library services contract for BCCLS services at the ⅓ mill level with a neighboring library? Will some existing member libraries seek creative ways to continue to offer valuable library services to its communities by establishing joint libraries? All of these situations will require a shift not only in how we envision BCCLS in the future, but will likely require a change in staffing.
Since its inception, BCCLS has had member-created and revised by-laws to regulate and uphold the core mission of the cooperative: shared resources. While the by-laws have evolved over the years, the overall structure of the governance of BCCLS is not clear. Many attempts have been made over the past several years to try and explain how decisions are made, where ideas come from, and how an idea becomes a service or procedure that all member libraries follow. It is not easily explained and there is confusion over even the simplest of matters.
The Plan seeks to clarify to the membership the who, what, why, when and “how things get done” of decision-making in this complex organization by guiding us towards the creation of a clear view of BCCLS' organizational structure.
|Posted - Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 9:28 AM. This article has been viewed 1048 times.|
|Online URL: http://bccls.knowledgebase.co/article.php?id=1146|
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