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November 1, 2009

November Update

In my August blog posting, I shared several of the cost reductions that the Orange County Library System has taken to deal with its reduced budget. These included closing the Orlando Public Library in downtown at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and discontinuing the delivery of entertainment DVDs. We focused on reducing costs that have the least impact on library services.

While these cuts are noticeable to our customers, many more less readily visible reductions have been made behind the scenes. We have eliminated phone book advertising, and have gone to paperless systems for many processes including for paystubs and W-2 forms. Further, employee evaluations, and open enrollment for health insurance have also gone virtual and are being completed online now as well. We have significantly reduced printing costs for our computer class manuals and no longer provide rainy day bags for library materials. Business cards for staff have been considerably reduced too.

Some of the toughest reductions affect our staff, our greatest asset. Since we have not been filling positions when an employee leaves the system, this has left several of our branch libraries with critical staff needs. This has forced us to evaluate staffing system-wide. As a result, staff in locations that have experienced less attrition have been asked to transfer to locations with more attrition. The first round of rebalancing occurred in early October, and with a bleak financial outlook, it is fully expected that it won't be the last round. I applaud our dedicated staff for their flexibility and willingness to work with us so the impact of our financial situation is felt least by the public we serve.

To avoid layoffs, a Voluntary Separation Incentive was offered to employees meeting certain eligibility requiremetns for age and years of service. This is a one-time opportunity for employees who meet the criteria to retire early or separate employment from OCLS. This year, there will be no raises for all staff. For the second consecutive year, the library's administrative team will not receive raises.

None of these actions has been easy for us. The library system is no different than other organizations reeling from the recession. Our recession agenda remains to carefully and thoughtfully examine our situation, and put into play those options that will allow us to survive the crisis.


Mary Anne Hodel
Library Director and CEO

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