Executive Director's Desk - March 12, 2015

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The Latest Question

Lately, it may seem as though you are receiving a surveymonkey or request for data from us on a semi regular basis. First let me emphasize that your responses are appreciated and extremely useful. At this moment we are preparing separate sets of data for the state budget office, legislator requests and as a basis for a proposed legislation. Our membership survey let us know what is important to you so we can make sure we are advocating in the right direction as well as providing the professional development you need.

As you know, Gov. Snyder’s executive budget proposal this year includes an additional million dollars in state aid to libraries and $600,000 more in Renaissance Reimbursements than last year. Much of that is due to the work of Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) who has advocated tirelessly on behalf of libraries. It is also due to the fact that MLA, GCSI and members have been educating legislators about the thousands and thousands of pre-k children learning to love reading and learning at their local library. Responses from our survey on pre–k education highlighted the fact that well over 150,000 early learners are impacted by their libraries and we shared that fact at the Capitol.

In addition, that same survey outlined the job seekers who are also counting on their libraries for assistance. The 46 responding libraries tallied more than 20,000 adults using employment search resources in the last year. Even the smallest libraries see a minimum of six to 12 patrons per week pursuing career resources.

The Traverse Area District Library conducted an Impact Survey at the beginning of last year. It found that 23% of public technology users at Traverse Area District Library used the library's public computers or wireless connection for employment purposes. That equates to roughly 32,834 times their computers or Wi-Fi were used for employment purposes. We found the Class 2 library in Centreville had 312 public computer uses for job hunting, unemployment or resume building last year. At Mayville District Public Library the average number of patrons using the library to job hunt, prepare for careers or apply for unemployment is 950 per year.

Survey questions about the availability of IRS forms garnered tremendous response. Clearly this is a problem for many libraries and their patrons. I was able to provide a good deal of feedback to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and asked him to intervene on our behalf.

Our most recent survey focuses on TIFAs and DDAs. Our libraries have lost millions of dedicated library millage dollars to numerous TIFAs. Some lose as much as 45% of their tax dollars to these types of quasi- governmental authorities. Our goal is to make sure those taxpayers dollars go to the library.

Last fall’s membership survey let us know that you want to see more diverse professional development offerings, skill building workshops, more technology training, greater geographical outreach and more networking opportunities. MLA’s PDNC and staff are working closely to get those offerings in the works. A customer service workshop was just added for May 1 in response to popular requests.

The next thing we’ll be looking for is information from the 78% of Michigan’s public libraries that partner in some capacity with Michigan Works! locally and the 14 public libraries serving as access points and Service Centers for Michigan Works!. We need to know if you are a service center and if so, what staff and other resources does it entail? We will be working with legislators to try to identify additional library funding to support those services.

While I know surveys can be tedious, please keep us informed and respond regularly. We’re working to help you succeed and make sure MLA is providing the best value it can by making good decisions backed by reliable verifiable data.

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