Staff and members in Western Massachusetts suggested that I take a ride on a delivery van to get to know the local libraries. I took the ride yesterday and I was glad that I followed their suggestion. Mary King had informed all the libraries that I would be riding with Brian Marchese on the “T3″ route. I was pleased that many library directors made a point to meet me when we arrived. I brought my camera along and many folks obliged me in posing for photos. We stopped in at 13 libraries, although a few were closed in 12 communities: Westhampton, Easthampton, West Springfield, Agawam, Westfield, Blandford, Russell, Chester, Middlefield, Huntington, Montgomery, and Southampton. It was clear that some libraries had experienced growth in resource sharing because the sorting areas were crowded and the staff effort for processing incoming and outgoing materials was growing. Librarians say that patrons love being able to borrow so easily from other libraries.
Brian was patient as I spent a few minutes meeting with and learning the priorities of librarians along the route.
Toni Golinski-Foisy and I discussed an upcoming meeting of the Board of the Friends of WMRLS on August 13th. I will be attending the meeting in Whately. It will be followed by a Discussion with the MLS Executive Director with library staff, board members, and supporters. (register here, if you would like to attend).
At other stops, librarians discussed their hopes that MLS could continue all of the good work provided by WMRLS in the past. I replied that we will do our best with the resources at our disposal. Several had questions about the MLS delivery RFP that was posted on July 15th. The most important goal of the RFP is to reduce the workload of libraries by automating the sorting operations at one or more central locations. While some changes may result from a new statewide contract, MLS will continue to provide delivery services to libraries that participate in resource sharing. For Q&A on the RFP see: http://wp.me/PXRJJ-6S.
Library staff also had questions about training, consulting, and broadband services. It seems that our new web site has been publicized widely because most members were aware of the 30 training events that were posted recently. The MLS Advisory Team is drafting a menu of advisory services that are available to members. Many libraries in western Massachusetts have faced challenges in getting broadband access. MLS, MBLC, and CW/MARS staff met on Monday with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and began planning to roll out broadband to over 100 public libraries over the next three years, as part of a large grant program. See: http://tinyurl.com/2cty5wb