FIVE STARS: CREATING COMMUNITY MAGIC

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary (and Finn)

Editor’s note: In 2011, for the fourth time in a row (and running), the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. The Wilkinson Public Library ranks fifth in the nation among public libraries with annual budgets of $1 – 5 million, hence the name of library director Barb Brattin’s semi-regular column, “Five Stars.”

On a recent gondola ride to a library event in Mountain Village, I introduced myself to a local couple who, upon hearing I was director of the Wilkinson Public Library, chimed: “Oh, you work for Scott Doser.” To which I quickly responded: “Yes, I do.”

My philosophy is that at the Wilkinson Public Library we work for each other as well as for the Telluride community. The staff has taught me over the years that while delegation of duties is critical, it is the blurring of job descriptions that makes the current library team accomplish great things and feel good while meeting its goals. After a long career in the Midwest, I find ours is a unique dynamic that not everyone in organizational development would embrace. In Telluride, the Wilkinson’s version of democracy in action is key to our success.

Part of my job working for the Library staff is to make sure they have the resources they need to create community magic. For many years, with strong real estate values behind us, support has been reasonably easy to come by. That all changed when real estate property values began to fall. For the first time in our history, our income went backwards this year, landing us 10% behind 2011 revenues. County projections for 2014 are even grimmer, predicting another 10-15% loss in library tax revenue.

We take our community role seriously. We know the value of libraries and in particular this library, which has come to mean so much to all of you. For-profit businesses measure success in dollars. Wilkinson Public Library measures its “profits” in community good will. It is no secret that the Wilkinson Public Library is in a record profit-making period. The challenge is to make sure we find the means to keep up the momentum – and the magic.

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