Budget cuts bring changes to FDL Library services

In anticipation of reductions in funding, the Fond du Lac Public Library will be changing automation systems in November. Removing the library from the shared Winnefox cataloging system will change to the way library patrons can request materials not found on the Fond du Lac shelves.

Starting August 1, card holders will be able to place holds only on materials that the Fond du Lac Library owns. Materials owned by other libraries will be accessible only through holds made by library Help or Reference desks staff. “Hold” is library shorthand for when a patron requests a specific book, movie or other item that the library finds and holds for later pickup.

Changing automation systems will save the library about $60,000 annually, said library Director Ken Hall. Hall said public funding cuts forced the library to choose from a short list of alternatives: eliminating the shared catalog, reducing the budget for new materials or reducing hours of service.

“We took the option that we believe, in the long term, will have the least-negative impact possible,” Hall said. “We believe that, over time, service to our customers will be stronger and better because of this decision.”

A vast majority of the library’s circulation involves new materials – items a year or two old. Hall said he wanted to preserve funding for new materials so patrons can “get what they want when they want it.”

At the same time, use of the main library has shown substantial annual increases since the 2004 building expansion. Use in May 2011 set a record for that month with more than 63,000 items circulated, a 10 percent increase over May 2010. Each year, about 400,000 people visit the main library. Cutting hours flew in the face of customer demand, Hall said.

In fact, the library expects the new Express branch, to open this fall in Johnson Crossing Shopping Center, will alleviate pressure on the main library. The branch, which will replace the current bookmobile parked outside Festival Foods, will be open twice as many hours with a materials collection about three times what the bookmobile holds. The library is opening the branch to better serve city customers in an area of high need. To do so, the bookmobile in Rosendale also will close; its final day of operation will be Friday, August 19.

Even though Fond du Lac is leaving the shared Winnefox catalog system, those materials – as well as materials from libraries across the country – still will be available to patrons, just in a different manner than they’ve been accustomed to. The materials in question amount to less than 10 percent of the total library circulation.

Starting in November, when the Fond du Lac Library in essence stands alone, patrons will see a much different online catalog. Eventually, Hall said, he wants to improve the automation services available to patrons, who now are used to being able to perform many library service tasks themselves online.

“In the mean time, we know that there will be a transition period,” said Support Services Coordinator Lori Burgess. “We hope our customers will have patience with us as we work through the changes.”

Because library staff is devoted to providing high-quality customer service, Burgess announced that September will be Patron Appreciation Month: all month the library will offer “Food for Fines.” Donating one nonperishable food item will equal $1 of forgiven extended use fees. Replacement charges and referral fees still will apply.

The Fond du Lac Public Library, located at 32 Sheboygan St., supports a high quality of life in Fond du Lac through reading, lifelong learning and community involvement.

For more information, call the library's Help Desk, 920 929 7080, ext. 131; Reference Desk, ext. 118; and detailed information is available in this Q&A.



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