Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary


Editor’s note:  Year after year, the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, has designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. And it just earned its fifth star in a row, which puts The Wilkinson Public Library into an elite club of 30 libraries that have seen stars five years in a row and third 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.”

Barb Brattin, director, Wilkinson Public LIbrary

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

One Monday morning, I was talking with the Wilkinson Public Library’s marketing manager, Ryan Wilson, about budget cuts, vision, and the future of library services.

We started our chat with the cuts and how we were going to reduce staff through attrition and shifting hours from Sunday to the weekdays to reduce workload stress. When we switched to discussing the visionary projects planned for 2013, however, Ryan began to question our focus: Weren’t we straying from traditional library service by our involvement in big projects? Good question and one I was delighted to answer.

As he listened, Ryan encouraged me to share my vision with all of you.

So, here goes.

First, a little background.

The library took an 11% cut in its 2012 budget as a result of reduced property valuations in Telluride. Projections for 2014 suggest we should expect another 10-15% reduction in tax revenues. As a result, we are committed to reducing staff by two full-time equivalents. We’ll concentrate remaining staff hours into a six-day workweek by closing Sundays and opening one hour earlier Monday through Friday. Our staff benefits will become less generous. We’ll use some money from our savings accounts, write more grants, and begin our first fundraising efforts. After years of efficiency, we’ll tighten our belts even further.
At the same time, we’ll look to some enterprise activities.

In partnership with Telluride TV, we plan to host the second year of Screenwriters in the Sky. In collaboration with EcoAction Partners, we’ll offer “Elevated Thinking: Resilient Communities,” an intellectual festival for those concerned with sustainability. And in response to the overwhelming impact of our Civility Training last summer, we’ll design and deliver a regional Consensus Institute led by Jeff Goebel. The goal of Jeff’s event is to bring people together to focus on issues that divide us and apply the techniques of consensus to bring us closer together.

Ryan continued to question whether such activities fit the mission of a public library, especially during times of tighter budgets. In my mind, however, the Wilkinson has been straying from the traditional role of a public library for some time.

That wasn’t our plan, but we watched closely as you led us in that general direction. While early childhood literacy remains the foundation for this library and always will, our role has broadened beyond a building that houses books into the roles of facilitator and connector. As information becomes a shared experience, we seize any opportunity to host intellectual festivals that bring people together to share ideas. As divisions grow deeper over shared challenges such as water, immigration, and poverty, we facilitate the conversation towards finding common ground.

Bottom line: the Wilkinson Public Library has always been and will always be a forum for ideas. And even in these challenging times, we are proud to connect you with the background information you need to make informed choices – and also to facilitate the discussion.

What an exciting time to be a librarian.

OK Ryan?

OK everyone?

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.