Head Librarian’s Report – May 2011

Some librarian book choices were featured in today’s T&G.  Head librarian’s report for May to follow after the jump.

Technology Services

2011 Annual Survey Summary Results
Summary results of the Worcester Public Library’s 2011 Annual Survey is now available online.  A PowerPoint presentation about the survey is also available.  The survey was conducted at the Main Library, Frances Perkins Branch, Great Brook Valley Branch, and the library website from April 10-16 during National Library Week.  In all, over 1100 surveys were completed via print or online.  Many thanks go to Dee, Denise, and Jason for helping the data entry of paper copies.

We are thrilled with the high response rate and by all the valuable comments and suggestions people took the time to share.  One common theme is people’s love for the library.  A strong appreciation for staff is also evident in survey responses, as are frustration with parking and library open hours.

Circulation Draft Policies
Five updated circulation draft policies are presented to the Library Materials Committee and will be voted during the Library Board meeting on June 14th.  A platform has been created to allow the Library Board members to review these draft policies and make comments.  These draft policies can be found here.

Simmons Student Internship
Beginning in Spring 2011, the Simmons Library School created a 3-credit course to allow all GSLIS students to have the opportunity to complete an internship as part of their course of study.  Only 4 students registered for this pilot program and all chose to stay in the Boston area.  The Library continued sending in internship proposals for the summer session.  We were notified by Simmons in mid-May that a student (among 10 this time) was very interested in one of our proposals.  Wei met and conducted an interview with Susan Francis, the Simmons intern, on May 18th and she started her 10-week internship the following week.

Circulation Department:

  • Looking back to the month of April, total circulation at the Main Branch was 63,220 and we had 42,311 visitors.  On an average this meant there were approximately 2,600 items checked out each day. There were 962 new registrations for library cards.
  • The Circulation Department was visited by two groups from the Nativity School in Worcester for a brief tour and introduction to the circulation activities.  The tours were given by Anne White and Sue Groccia and were arranged by staff in the Children’s Department.
  • One of the regular tasks performed by the Circulation Department is the downloading and retrieval of OCLC interlibrary loan requests on a daily basis.  These requests are coming to us from libraries around the country.  There can be between 20 and 60 of these requests per day.  Staff download these requests, check them against our catalog, look for them in the library, process the item in the OCLC database, then package the item for mailing.  As an example, if there were 35 OCLCs on a given day, this process would take one person 5-6 hours.  The tasks are usually divided between 2 people on a different day.  This also works in reverse.  Requests at the reference desks are picked up by the circulation staff and are requested in WorldCat, the OCLC database.  This is, by nature, a much faster transaction.  Depending on the number of requests, this can be done by 1 staff person in less than an hour.  Any ILL request regarding magazine articles or microforms will be sent to Periodicals Department for processing.
  • Since Circulation Department took on the museum passes responsibilities last summer, Anne White has been streamlining the handling of museum passes.  A draft museum passes policy has been discussed at Circulation Supervisors meeting and will be presented to the Friends’ Executive Board meeting on June 21st.
  • Some of the Welcome Package components, such as stickers and library information magnet, arrived in the last week of May.  Circulation Department will soon start a Happy Face campaign by giving out a welcome package to any new cardholder once the draft policies are in place!  Many thanks fo to the funding support of our Friends’ Executive Board!

IT Department

  • IT replaced the OCS Server (patron printing software) with the latest version in anticipation of moving to wireless printing.  All public computers including the Lab ones were upgraded with the new printing client and Windows 7  operating system.  However, the upgrade process took much longer than expected, which resulted in some disturbances of public printing at the Main Library.  It requires lots of patience and perseverance to communicate and work with the outsourced vendor and its counterpart in Canada.
  • Our first Digital Media Display was finally set up in front of the Talking Book Library!  This revolutionary new digital canvas gives us the power to display our library events and provide messages, which captivates library users up close or from a distance.  Ming identified free open-source software called XIBO for managing the content over the network.  Through brilliant color and bold images, our talented staff are fully engaged in this visual media presentation.
  • IT worked with the vendor to set up Talking Book Library’s new network copier.  It not only performs the traditional photocopier tasks, but also allows scanning and emailing documents to designated computers.
  • Mike migrated the last server from the old VMWare ESXI server to the new VMWare VSphere 4 environment.  The server was re-purposed to be the new Staff File Server.  Due to the sharp increase of digital picture files, Mike has organized and separated staff document folders from staff non-document digital files to better control storage space.  Last piece of this project is to migrate the staff share to the new server in order to decommission the old file server/domain controller.

Periodicals Department

  • Some of the magazine publishers allow users who have the print subscriptions to also view their magazines online.  The Library has set up computers as a means for online access but with little success.  New devices are being investigated.
  • Periodicals inventory and maintenance is another area to be addressed before the Evergreen migration.  Jeremy ran a report of a little over 500 missing periodicals to be deleted.  The staff of the department have begun the process of withdrawing these items.  An additional 2,871 unneeded item records were identified for batch deletion.

Technical Processing and Cataloging Departments:

  • Completed correction of items in the wx0ju, wx2ju, wx10 and wx20 locations, allowing us to establish locations for juvenile periodicals in their place.  A list of final location codes has been sent to CW/MARS for migration.
  • Jeremy, Joan and Anne attended CW/MARS cataloging meeting to prepare for the upcoming Evergreen migration.
  • Work continued on the double barcode project.  The list of items with multiple 14 digit barcodes has fewer than 800 items remaining of the original 8,927.  Furthermore 4,020 items were rebarcoded as part of this project.
  • Jeremy and Anne worked closely with Wendy and the selectors to ensure a smooth end to this fiscal year’s ordering.
  • We have hit our 12% materials ordering benchmark required for continued state certification.

Respectfully submitted,

Youth Services

I have to write about this again.  On May 3rd, Iris Cotto continued a Worcester Public Library tradition when she received the 2011 Katharine F. Erskine Award for Arts and Humanities.  Lauded as a mentor to immigrant families, teenage mothers and the homeless, Iris said the Erskine awards are “a confirmation of the value and the worth of supporting others.”  Iris dedicated her award to Robert A. Caldwell, a popular Children’s Librarian at Worcester Public Library who died of cancer in 2007.  Congratulations Iris!

Youth Services staff provided tours of the library and introductions to library services to children and teens as they responded to requests from school teachers.  This year we worked with 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from the Nativity School for the first time.  Katherine Mitchell and Fowzia Sherzai are to be congratulated for putting together their first school tours which were rousing successes.

May was Mental Health Awareness month.  Worcester Public Library was the primary distribution point for a dozen bookmarks designed by Worcester Public Schools students participating in a design contest sponsored by Alternatives.  Each bookmark includes the name of the designer on the reverse side.

Throughout the month of May, Anne, in collaboration with the Reference Department, mentored a Bancroft senior as she finished her secondary education with a Bancroft Senior Cooperative project at Worcester Public Library.  Rachel Fahlstrom worked with author C. J. Posk by assisting with research, organization, and advice on a grant-funded, local history book for children on Worcester “firsts.”  Rachel helped WPL fulfill our commitment to support the development of local history material for children by lending her intellect, academic skills, and interest in her community to this project.  Although 2011 is officially the first year of the Bancroft Senior Cooperative, WPL worked with Bancroft School in 2010 with the pilot for this new community service initiative for seniors.

On May 20th, Rezarta hosted an artist/author’s reception for the launch of WPL’s first volume of Worcester teen manga.  After 2 years of work with local graphic artist Andy Fish, members of the library’s Teen Manga Group celebrated the publication of their original works.  The WPL Teen Manga Group are currently working on their second volume.

Youth Services staff hosted and moderated the 2nd Urban Teen Librarian roundtable.  Public and school librarians gathered for a morning of discussing issues pertinent to providing library services to teens in an urban setting.

More great news: WPL received early notification that a $4800 grant will be arriving from the Rosemary Davis Memorial Fund at the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.  This specialized fund was created to support projects in Central Massachusetts that educate residents on the topics of wildlife, nature, and environmental science.  WPL will be using these funds to pay performers for our 2011 summer reading program.  Many thanks to the Rosemary Davis Fund, as well as to Maria Lockheardt who pushed through this grant as she left for her new job.

Respectfully submitted,

Reference Services


Worcester Public Library hosted a workshop for Central Massachusetts libraries about a library advocacy campaign called Geek the Library.  Cheryl Bryan from the Massachusetts Library System brought Jennifer Pearson from OCLC to introduce “Geek” to those libraries hoping to be selected to participate.  Here is a short description of the workshop contents:

“Let Geek the Library help you educate your community about public library funding and the need for local support.  The awareness campaign made a difference in OCLC’s pilot communities and it can do the same for you.  How does it work?  The Geek the Library campaign grabs people’s attention and reminds them about the immense value public libraries have for individuals and for communities.  The awareness campaign introduces the word ‘geek’ as a verb and illustrates the fact that everyone is passionate about something — everyone ‘geeks’ something — and that the public library supports it all.  As people see Geek the Library campaign elements around the community, their curiosity increases and this provides a platform to educate and engage people about the critical nature of public library funding.  Presented by Jennifer Pearson, OCLC “Geek the Library Campaign Coordinator.”

In the near future, WPL library community — staff, Board Members, and Friends — will hear more about this program.  It is a nationwide campaign funded by the Gates Foundation to put the library image in a positive light and to empower libraries to get that light into every nook and cranny of their service area.  While “Geek” programs and public relations messages directed to various segments of the population may not directly bring in dollars, the idea of library awareness is essential for tax support for libraries in this critical time.  Importantly, this library awareness can be notched up a bit to assuring that the public can appreciate the library’s role in a democracy as a central place for meeting and sharing culture, sharing information for healthy citizenship, and providing that essential “third place,” sometimes referred to as being a sort of community living room.  Worcester Public Library stands to gain much by leveraging the activities it already does and services it already provides, using the quality tools that “Geek” makes available.  Again, you will hear more!

(WPL staff from Reference/Adult Services, IT and Youth Services gave up time to learn about this Geek the Library from a webinar and a workshop, much to their credit, at a busy time of year.  Many thanks for technology support provided by IT.)


Everywhere people are talking about e-books and the increasing sales of popular reading and listening devices such as the MP3, the iPad, the Nook, the Kindle, and more.  For years, WPL has offered digital titles from providers such as NetLibrary and Overdrive.  This has included e-books and e-audiobooks to learn languages, to listen to the Bible, and to enjoy classics and bestsellers.

To simplify things, the emphasis will be on digital books to listen to from Overdrive, and to read on a screen from NetLibrary.  Last year Worcester strengthened the collection of downloadable e-books from the NetLibrary vendor, creating a core collection of 2500 books.

Now, this month, the Library added a bundle of new e-audiobooks from Overdrive.  These 100 fresh titles established an Overdrive Advantage collection specifically for Worcester public library card (barcode) patrons.  The Advantage additions will shorten the wait for WPL patrons who request e-audiobooks from the Central Massachusetts libraries’ C/W Mars collection.  New titles include bestsellers and award winners, books on school summer reading lists, and some children’s books.  The good news is that e-pub standard for e-audio books is compatible across a wide range of e-readers.  So if you have not tried downloading to your MP3 player, now is a good time to see for yourself how easy it is.  Click on Digital Downloads on the WPL website homepage.

WPL is poised to meet increasing demand for both e-books and e-audiobooks.  In future reports, Adult reference services and youth services will be reporting on digital periodicals, on music file downloads, on promoting digital services using web 2.0 tools, and on programs to allow patrons to explore devices such as the NookColor, Kindle, iPad, Playaway View (youth), and more.

(Pingsheng Chen, and e-resources committee with Jillian Parsons and Priya Subramanian.)


After a successful two-day genealogy conference last month, Joy Hennig, Local History and Genealogy Librarian, offered this specialty workshop to tie in with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (May 12).


On Saturday, May 14, at 1:00pm, and on Wednesday, May 18, professor Daniel J. McAuliffe presented the story behind the capture of the Confederate flags brought back to Worcester by a Major of the 25th Massachusetts Infantry Volunteer Regiment.  The talk also told about the hardships endured, and the sacrifices made, by the men from Worcester County, during the War of the Rebellion, on their way to victory.  Presented by WPL and the G. A. R. Memorial Board of Trustees, the City of Worcester’s Boards & Commissions, along with Willie Grout, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  (Mora McAvey, Community Services Librarian)


Continuing the popular Civil War program series, the movie Glory was shown on May 3 and a follow up discussion was on May 10.  These programs will resume in the fall with September, October, and November offerings.


Dr. Terry Chapman, a professional career counselor, offers one-on-one Resume and Job Help on Tuesday mornings for walk-ins and for appointments.  His appointments are full for every session.

–The Computer Basics Class meets weekly for a four-week course.  The waiting list is more than a month long.  (Jillian Parsons, Priya Subramanian)

–The Resume and Job Search Class meets weekly for a four-week course.  Registration required.  (Mary Cocorochio, Jillian Parsons)

Consult with a Librarian is a service provided every Wednesday evening for extended reference consultation.  Last month the librarian helped one patron locate grants for farm preservation, another to learn about spreadsheets, and even assisted a high school student to do her senior year project in history.  The sessions have been a great way to give in-depth help in an informal setting.  (Bill Sweeney, Pingsheng Chen)

–The Great Books discussion group continues its monthly meetings with leader, Jacqueline Belisle, every first Wednesday of the month.  Importantly, there will be meetings all through the summer this year, including June, July, and August.  SEE NEW SCHEDULE.


Please see the latest (May) issue of What’s Up In Docs about government publications.  This newsletter is prepared monthly by Paul Pelletier, Government Documents Librarian.


–Mora McAvey conducted a special grant seeking workshop for 18 Clark students.

–Mora McAvey hosted Dianne Williamson from the T&G for a workshop on The Writer’s Life for 22 people.

It is truly impossible to thank all of the wonderful staff efforts that miss being “counted in” and the personal sacrifices that staff have made to do their work and do it well while the Library is so short of librarians and other staff.


–Summer Reading: June will see the launch of the Adult Summer Reading program, themed, Novel Destinations.  This is a nationwide effort to promote reading nad it is tied to a statewide campaign.  (Mora McAvey, Community Services Librarian)

Genealogy: Joy Hennig will offer the popular Introduction to Ancestry.com Thursday, June 9.  Registration through the website Calendar of Events or call the Reference Line (508-799-1655).

–Foundation Center: Mora McAvey will offer the popular Grant Seeking Workshop on Thursday, June 2.  New location: the Banx Room.

–Public reading of the Frederick Douglass speech by Citizens of Worcester on Friday, June 24, from 11am-3pm.

BRANCHES – Looking ahead
–Look for Rainforest Reptiles to arrive at the Frances Perkins Branch Library on Tuesday, July 12.  Great Brook Valley Branch will be visited by Tide Pool Creatures in the same month as part of a celebration of Summer Reading — again thanks to the Youth Services Department.

–The Great Brook Valley Branch has a birthday to celebrated and look for information at the end of the summer to see how the GBV community will respond to a joint library and collaborative

Respectfully submitted,


The Library’s FY12 Operating Budget has been approved by City Council.  The amount voted represents a $200,000 reduction in the amount recommended by the City’s Finance Division due to the potential layoff of four library staff members.  Should layoffs not occur, the Finance Division will submit an amendment to Council requesting an additional $200,000 for the Library’s FY12 Budget.

We have had several conversations with the Finance Division in regards to the many Capital Projects we submitted for the City’s consideration.  As of the compilation of this report, we have not heard definitively which projects, if any, the City may be able to find in FY12.

We have learned that the Massachusetts State Senate’s version of the State FY12 Budget level funds the Worcester Talking Book Library’s budget.  More importantly, the WTBL unique line item in the Budget was restored.  Our continuing appreciation to Jim Izatt and Michael Howard for their WTBL advocacy efforts.

We continue to work closely with the Worcester Public Library Foundation during this period of transition.  The search for a new Executive Director is progressing.  WPLF Board President Bob Nolan and I continue to meet on a regular basis.  I remain very appreciative of Bon’s hard work and dedication towards the Library.

The Alden Trust has generously awarded the Library a grant of $30,000.00 to support Open Sundays in FY13 with the potential for additional support in the subsequent two fiscal years.  The award is in recognition of the hard work of library staff and tremendous usage of library services by our patrons.  We also express our appreciation to the City Manager for his ongoing support of Open Sundays.

We submitted a grant proposal in the amount of $10,000.00 to the Fuller Foundation to fund additional patron technology at the Frances Perkins Library.  Worcester Public Library Foundation Board president Bob Nolan and I had a terrific conversation with Mark Fuller concerning this project and other initiatives.  We are very appreciative of Mr. Fuller’s encouragement to submit an application to expand services at the Branch.

As previously reported, we have developed a proposal that will complete the interior renovations that were begun last fall at the Frances Perkins Branch Library.  We have, with tremendous assistance from Library Board member Phyllis Harrington, submitted a grant proposal to the Francis A. and Jacquelyn H. Harrington Foundation in the amount of $66,000.00.  When fully implemented, this project will remedy accessibility, technology, and collection changes while creating a welcoming environment for our patrons.  Again, I wish to thank Doreen, Robin, and the entire staff at FPBL for their contributions towards this exciting project.

We will be working with the Worcester Community Action Council to provide work opportunities for young people this summer.  The Library will be development projects that will assist in developing employment skills for two young people over the five week course of the project.  Our appreciation to Donna McGrath for facilitating this project.

With assistance from the Engineering and Architectural Services Office of the Department of Public Works, the previously reported Salem Street stairs project is now being designed for construction.  The services provided by the DPW will save considerable funding while ensuring that the new stairs will meet current city codes and provide many years of maintenance free service.  We are very appreciative of Asst. Commissioner for Engineering and Architectural Services Paul Moosey for his assistance with this project.

3 thoughts on “Head Librarian’s Report – May 2011

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