What Does Eastern Shores Library System (ESLS) Provide to Its Member Libraries?
ESLS Helps Make Libraries More Effective
ESLS member public libraries are fantastic resources for people of all ages. They provide information, education, and recreation at bargain prices.
ESLS serves to make its member libraries even more effective by:
- helping them share materials so that expenditures of thousands of dollars locally becomes millions in services to the general public in a shared environment;
- providing them with leadership in the areas of automation and telecommunications; and,
- providing them with the training and expertise to cope with new and constantly changing technologies and demands for service.
ESLS Helps Promote Resource Sharing
We live in a world where the ability to obtain and effectively utilize information is critical to everyone’s success. More than half the residents of Wisconsin’s prisons cannot read. In most cases this means they cannot hold productive jobs in our society. Almost 80% of all small businesses fail within their first five years of operation. Frequently the cause of failure is a lack of information concerning markets, products, or sources of capital. If we do not ensure that all our citizens – from infants to the elderly – have access to good information now, we must pay ruinous costs to pick up the pieces later.
Shared Databases. Wisconsin citizens have sophisticated information needs. All member libraries have access to Badgerlink, a state funded electronic information resource, which is supplemented locally by licenses to Credo Reference (a collection of indexed electronic reference books) and Wisconsin’s Digital Library (electronic downloadable audiobooks, ebooks, music, and videos from Overdrive). These shared databases ensure that library resources are available to the public through every member library, no matter how small. Literally thousands of resources – far too expensive to ever be purchased in print form by any but the largest libraries – are available online. Member libraries share in group purchases of Tumble books (electronic read along books for children), Zinio (electronic magazines), and Mango Languages (an online language learning resource).
Contracts for Library Resources. No one library can afford to buy everything its customers need. ESLS spends over $51,000 annually with Mead Public Library to make available materials in its specialized and general non-fiction collections for responding to EasiCat requests, and to respond to requests from libraries from outside the library system to share materials. Mead Public Library provided 98,977 items to member libraries and libraries outside the library system.
Cooperative Management Services. Efficiency is best achieved by cooperation. ESLS coordinates orders and shipping for everything from library cards to Summer Library Program materials to computers, thus saving libraries money. ESLS administers county library service plans and cooperative projects on behalf of our member libraries (for example, Wisconsin’s Digital Library (a digital media consortium) and EasiCat). ESLS represents member libraries in statewide forums in the areas of interlibrary loan, delivery, cataloging, special needs, continuing education, and technology.
Circulation. Shared automation is a very cost-effective way to provide library services to the people of Wisconsin. In cooperation with its member libraries, ESLS operates the EasiCat shared automation system, which makes the resources of 13 member public libraries, the bookmobile, and the Lakeland College Library readily available to all area residents. The success of this endeavor is indicated by the fact that more than 67% of the 202,000 residents of the system area have EasiCat library cards and more than 2.39 million books (and other library materials) were checked out last year directly by area residents from the member public libraries that owned these books. At a conservative estimate of $20 per book (averaging in the price of everything from paperbacks to reference books), this direct traffic represents $47.8 million in value to the public because they can check out books rather than purchase them. Since the actual expense of all member libraries on library materials together total just more than $1.1 million it is evident that through EasiCat, libraries significantly multiply the value of the public dollar.
Interlibrary Loan. No library can afford all of the print and electronic resources required by its customers. Last year, over 418,000 books and other materials that library customers requested, but which their local libraries did not own, were successfully provided to them by other ESLS member libraries largely through the EasiCat system. Each book requested through interlibrary loan represents an item that the borrowing library does not have to buy. Using the same $20 estimated book cost, the 418,000 interlibrary loans, saved the local libraries and the local taxpayers $8,360,000 in book purchases last year.
Other Automated Services. ESLS also funds and maintains centralized Internet access, email accounts, and e-lists for member libraries. By centralizing this service, local libraries get high speed data lines at a fraction of the cost if each library had its own Internet service provider. We also provide a centralized cataloging and database maintenance service that saves local libraries the cost of cataloging the library materials that they add to EasiCat. It also serves to enrich and enhance access to those materials by maintaining the integrity of the EasiCat database and the visibility of local holdings on the Internet.
Collaborative Activities. No library system can provide all of its services to its libraries on its own. Collaboration with other library systems and other agencies makes more efficient use of public library system state aid and local library funds. For example, sharing a Wide Area Network with the Manitowoc Calumet Library System extends high speed data lines between the ESLS office and 19 libraries and two system offices. Internet service and shared integrated library systems operate over the wide area network. Sharing the cost of continuing education programs among 6 southeastern library systems brings nationally renowned presenters to our libraries. Participating in the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium provides the Wisconsin Digital Library, a collection of more than 72,000 electronic downloadable audiobook, ebooks, music, and videos to not only residents of ESLS but all residents of the state at a fraction of the cost it would require to provide a similar number of these materials locally.
ESLS Provides World-Class Delivery Service
Delivery is essential to resource sharing. ESLS delivers materials requested by area residents to their local libraries and, when they have finished with these materials, returns them to their home libraries again. The delivery service also connects libraries to a statewide delivery service that serves public and academic libraries in the state. Last year, our delivery service van carried more than 1,020,000 items among libraries of all types throughout the system, making about 5,000 stops and traveling over 42,000 miles.
Our delivery service cost just over $88,842 to operate last year. Dividing this sum by the 1,020,000 books and other library materials delivered yields a cost of just 8.7 cents per item, a much less expensive solution than the US mail, which costs over $2.40 per book sent. All EasiCat member libraries receive deliveries five days a week. System staff and member libraries work together to continually increase the effectiveness of this service. 1,020,000 items times $2.40 saved libraries $2,448,000 last year.
ESLS Provides Consulting Services & Quality Continuing Education Programs
Citizens can ask librarians every question under the sun. They can’t get by without up-to-date information. Libraries are vital partners in providing information, education and recreation to their communities. To carry out this task in a changing technological environment, librarians must continue to learn and develop.
Last year, ESLS staff fielded a wide gamut of requests from member librarians for assistance on library-related issues such as: how to write library bylaws, how to modify a joint library agreement, how to add new materials to EasiCat, how to update to the newest version of a PC operating system, and how to make effective use of the newest technologies. The system also seeks out special grants from the federal government (Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA)) to help libraries supplement local funds, e.g. a digitization of local history materials project.
In a world of information that is constantly changing, learning must be never endlng. Ongoing training is vital for member library staff. We collaborated with other adjacent library systems to provide a variety of workshops on topics of interest to library staff. We also promoted the use of webinars since they are focused on a topic, are usually brief and don’t require travel to a workshop site.
Children are our future. They need libraries to grow. Libraries provide roots as well as wings. The system helps sponsor member libraries’ Summer Library Programs. More than 11,400 children attended Summer Library Programs last year and read more than 436,600 hours (the equivalent of 49+ years).
Libraries help all users realize their goals and dreams. ESLS helps member libraries provide services to users with special needs through LSTA funded projects that in prior years provided assistive technology devices, hearing loops in meeting rooms, and large format computer monitors. ESLS also participates in a program which provides library materials for the inmate libraries of the Sheboygan County Detention Centers.
What is the Value of the State’s Investment in Public Library Systems?
ESLS 2013 Public Library System Aids $578,545
Value of circulation $47,800,000
Value of interlibrary loan $8,360,000
Value of delivery service $2,448,000
Total value $58, 608,000
Return on State’s Investment: $101 for each $1 of System Aid
Public libraries are vital to our society. Public library systems are vital to public libraries.
Both are a bargain for Wisconsin.