Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2010

State accreditation regarding computer numbers at Lawrence Public Library depends on variety of factors

October 31, 2010


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It has been a near constant theme in the library campaign: Lawrence’s library doesn’t meet state accreditation standards because it has too few computers.

The issue may not be that black and white.

A review of accreditation standards from the Northeast Kansas Library System found a range of accreditation standards the Lawrence Public Library could seek, but library leaders have chosen the highest level, which is designed for libraries that provide service on a “regional and statewide basis.”

That level, called a Major Resource Library, requires 150 public access computers, regardless of the size of community the library is serving.

Lawrence library leaders could choose to meet the standards in the category just below the top level. That level, called a Level III Major Service Center, is defined as a library that serves the “community and a broad surrounding area.” Those standards require at least 36 public-access computers. The Lawrence library currently has 52 public access computers.

Bruce Flanders, director of the library, said he is confident that Lawrence belongs in the top category.

“For us to settle for anything less than a major resource library is totally unacceptable,” Flanders said.

Jim Minges, director of the Northeast Kansas Library System and author of the accreditation standards, agreed.

“It absolutely is the right category,” Minges said. “It is probably the fifth largest library in the state. It would be strange for them not to be in this category.”

Lawrence, though, is the smallest of the state’s public libraries that likely would be considered for the top category, Minges said.

Flanders said Lawrence’s library does serve a statewide role. He said libraries from across the state use Lawrence’s collection through the interlibrary loan program. He said it is important for Lawrence to remain in the top category because the library should be held to high standards.

“To me, our ability to have a collection that is of such value that other libraries wish to borrow materials from us is an important benchmark,” Flanders said. “That is an indicator that we are providing a quality service to our community.”

A change in categories also likely would mean less grant funding. Major Resource Libraries qualify for up to $56,700 in grant money from the Northeast Kansas Library System. A Level III Major Service Center qualifies for a maximum of $29,175.

Although the accreditation standard for computers isn’t based on a population formula — such as one computer per every 1,000 residents — an analysis of Lawrence’s computer numbers showed the library is near the bottom of the list.

According to statistics from the State Library of Kansas, Lawrence’s computers-per-capita ratio ranks ninth out of the 10 libraries that serve an area of at least 40,000 people. Lawrence has one computer per every 1,847 residents. Topeka tops the list at 1 per 916 people. Wichita is last at 1 per 5,383 people. The average for the 10 was 1 per 1,558. Excluding Wichita, which had a ratio about five times the others, the average was 1 per 1,240.

If Lawrence’s expansion is approved and the number of computers grows to 150, Lawrence will skyrocket to the top of the list with 1 computer per every 603 residents.

Flanders said he would look forward to such a jump, especially considering that the library currently has to limit the amount of time users can spend on a computer.

“I am confident that if we made that large of an advancement, we would not see idled computers strewn throughout the library,” Flanders said. “My experience is that as you add services in this community, they are used.”


Moderateguy 7 years, 7 months ago

Un-friggin-believable. Some bureaucrat somewhere decides 150 computers is a magic number regardless of population size. Our library director decides the next lowest level is "totally unacceptable." So for a potential loss of $27,525 of state funding (also our taxes by the way..) we're asked to pony up $18 million. The inmates are running the asylum folks.

Vote NO!

Keith 7 years, 7 months ago

And just wait, in a few years you have to replace those 150 computers. Will that come out of the operating budget or will we have to pony up for another tax hike?

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

I think that the next highest level is more appropriate - the Lawrence library is a library that serves "the community and a broad surrounding area".

As such, we have more than the necessary number of computers to qualify.

Problem solved, with no need to spend $18 million.

FreshAirFanatic 7 years, 7 months ago

$18M to subsidize entertainment. I'm in the library about once/week and each time the computers are full of people watching youtube, playing games, listening to music and updating facebook. Those who are actually studying, learning or working on a project bring their own. Same goes for the kids area. Lots of new computers...all used for games.

Oh...and Mr. Flanders...

"Flanders said Lawrence’s library does serve a statewide role. He said libraries from across the state use Lawrence’s collection through the interlibrary loan program."

Don't make it sound like the rest of the state relies on Lawrence and will go without if we don't pass the proposal. How many books does our library receive from other sources as well?

Frank A Janzen 7 years, 7 months ago

Vote YES for the library expansion. We need a much better library than we have now.

Gedanken 7 years, 7 months ago

It should be noted that the current leader in computer to population ratio (Topeka) currently limits computer usage to 2 hours per day per valid library card.

It seems like a fairly reasonable policy to me! Why does Lawrence Public Library not see this?

csk 7 years, 7 months ago

It does. From the Lawrence Public Library website

"Due to high demand, computer access is limited to two one-hour sessions per day. "

kernal 7 years, 7 months ago

So, they want to increase the number of computers to 150. I and other posters have noticed some library users on computers viewing highly inappropriate material - yes, real porn, not just Playboy or Penthouse. Yet there always seems to be at least one librarian in the computer area to monitor by sitting at a desk, not monitoring. How are they going to monitor usage of 150 computers? FreshAirFanatic is correct when he said students bring their own computers.

Those of you pushing for the new library may want to quietly spend some time there and observe more than the stacks.

Centerville 7 years, 7 months ago

So we're doing this to "skyrocket to the top of the list" of the world-renowned Northeast Kansas Library System? Run, apparently single handedly, by someone named Jim Minges? WTF? This is the best reason yet to vote NO.

Centerville 7 years, 7 months ago

Do a little googling of Northeast Kansas Library System. It is nothing but a holiday for bureaucrats. So this MInges (who pulled the 150 computer requirement out of thin air) has set up a nice little gig where he's the 'expert' that library boards can use to bamboozle their taxpayers. Completely bogus. And, I dare the reporter to try to find out how much Lawrence has to pay in fees to 'belong' to the NEKLS.
Put away the violins and vote NO.

Moderateguy 7 years, 7 months ago

Chad, I agree with Centerville. Can you please provide some information on where NEKLS gets their funding, who gave them the authority etc.? Are they distributing tax dollars? Are they a quasi-governmental entity? Did the legislature create them? Their website is very fuzzy on those details. I've asked people who should know, and they don't know.

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