Grassroot effort’s goal is to save local librarian’s job
By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN Members of the Delano Friends of the Library organization, and area citizens, are concerned with restructuring proposals within the Great River Regional Library (GRRL).
For 40 years, Delano’s library has been operated by the GRRL system. GRRL is responsible for maintaining all types of media, circulation, and the staffing of area libraries.
Operating decisions are made by a board of trustees who are appointed by each county that participates in the GRRL system.
Recently, the board has been considering restructuring the branch librarian positions. In all restructuring proposals, the branch manager position is eliminated in Delano.
“This is an important position,” said Mary Ann Bernat of the Delano Friends of the Library group. “We would lose a lot of programing without it.”
With this in mind, the Delano Friends of the Library and a group of concerned citizens have initiated a “letter a day” campaign.
The goal of the campaign is to share with GRRL decision- makers the importance of the branch librarian in Delano.
Four of the 15 board members are Wright County residents, but none actually live in Delano. Therefore, this group is making an effort to make board members aware of the issue.
The group is hoping that an e-mail or letter a day from Delano area residents will help get their message out before the board revisits the topic in November.
For more information on the campaign or to volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mary Ann Bernat at (763) 972-6274.
A look at the Delano Library and restructuring
There are many points the Delano Friends of the Library and concerned citizens would like the public to know:
• Delano is the fifth-largest library in the GRRL system. The initial restructure plan proposed to keep five branch managers, but Delano was passed over in that plan for a less-busy library.
• Delano’s branch manager is vital in managing the local branch and working closely with patrons.
• As a function of population of the top five libraries, Delano checks out more books per capita than any of the other 30 GRRL branch libraries.
• The cost savings proposed in the restructuring plan would likely save the GRRL $500 per library, which is negligible when considering Delano’s circulation. This savings is comparable to mileage paid to trustees for reimbursement for meeting.
• Delano’s branch manager coordinates volunteers and organizes a significant amount of programing that makes the library user friendly and welcoming.
• Delano’s branch manager focuses only on branch manager duties. The argument to eliminate the branch librarian states that branch librarians spend too much time with clerical tasks, such as shelving books and scanning returns.
Delano’s branch manager spends her time working with patrons, working outside the library on programing with the school, Community Education, and senior center, as well as managing the operations of the library.
• The reorganization might streamline operations in other branches, but it would be devastating to the Delano branch, which is operating at peak efficiency.
• Delano is already right-sized.
• Many people cite Delano’s branch manager as the reason they use the library.
• Delano circulation has significantly outpaced growth. From the time Delano’s branch manager position was created, circulation has increased nearly 460 percent.
• Delano must function as a stand-alone operation in order to maintain its current use.
“Our branch manager makes our library a personal feeling,” said community member Harlan Lewis. “She takes part in our community and makes the library what it is today.”