Hello everyone and welcome to MUG 2019. I am Dr. Adam Murray, and I have the honor of serving as Marmot’s executive director.
Hello everyone and welcome to MUG 2019. I am Dr. Adam Murray, and I have the honor of serving as Marmot’s executive director.
MUG - and the Marmot consortium itself - wouldn’t be possible without everyone’s involvement. I am grateful everyday for the Marmot community, and today I would like to thank quite a few people.
First - thank you to each and every one of you for being here today and tomorrow. MUG is for you, and we love to see the gathering of people from different member libraries to share ideas.
Thank you to the library directors of our member libraries. The library directors are the inheritors of the vision of Marmot’s founders - of a consortium that enables different types of libraries to partner in order to achieve together what none of them could do alone. And while there are no registration costs for MUG, it is the directors who prioritize the funding needed to get you here.
Thank you to the presenters for taking the time to prepare and give your presentations, and your willingness to share your ideas and your projects with the Marmot community.
I would also like to thank the Mesa County Public Library and its staff for being so accommodating in hosting MUG.
And finally, I would like to thank all of the Marmot staff. Throughout my first year with Marmot I have been continually impressed with their knowledge, skill, and above all - their dedication to you, your libraries, and your library users. I couldn’t ask for a better team of colleagues. In particular, for her work coordinating all things MUG, let’s give a round of applause to Tammy.
This opening session will cover introductions, highlight some key MUG events, and provide a brief recap of activities since MUG 2018. From there, the findings of the 360 evaluation will be reviewed. The 360 evaluation findings are important, as they are the results of your feedback about Marmot and are used to build an operational plan for 2020-25. The opening session will conclude with an overview of that operational plan, along with time for questions.
To start the introductions, I would like to introduce the members of Marmot’s Executive Board, many of whom are here today. Please stand when your name is called.
Let’s give the Board members a round of applause for the work they put into Marmot’s governance and direction.
Next I would like to welcome each of the libraries represented here today. We have a good mix of public, academic, and school library representatives - which is great - because we all want to nurture collaboration between different library types.
We have a number of new directors at Marmot member libraries. Please stand and be recognized.
Michelle Boisvenue-Fox (Mesa County Public)
Polly Gallagher (Grand County)
Audrey Imhoff (CMC)
Brett Lear (Garfield County)
Liz Miller (CMC)
Stephanie Ralph (Summit County)
Karen Johnson (Buena Vista)
Berenice Forrest & Caroline Cares (Basalt)
We also have representatives from libraries that recently became members of Marmot - Lake County and Montrose Regional. Please welcome these representatives.
We also welcome three new Associate Members to Marmot, and celebrate the contributions of ideas they provide to Pika development that benefit all libraries.
If you are a new staff member at a Marmot member library - please stand.
Finally, I would like to introduce the Marmot staff. Marmot’s excellent management team consists of Assistant Director Sean Hanson, User Services Manager Brandon Cole, and Software Development Manager and Systems Administrator JB Wiese. Each will introduce their team members.
We have some exciting activities planned for this year’s MUG. The pre-conference session on development priorities for Pika went very well, and we will have information to share about the outcomes of that prioritization in the next few weeks. Brandon will be giving an update on FOLIO. Marmot works very closely with both CliC and the Alliance, so we will hear updates from Jim Duncan and George Machovec on their initiatives. We have a dinner tonight, followed by an “after party” hosted by Mesa County Public. MUG will conclude tomorrow with concurrent sessions.
Before I get started with the rest of this opening session, I have a few items on my mind and in my heart that I want to share. I’ve always joked never to give an administrator a mic and an audience, but here I go. Please note that these are not political in nature, but recognizing the reality we live in.
I start with this quote by JFK. Over the last few decades, we have seen education go from being treated as a necessity for our society to an individual privilege focused heavily on careers and personal gain. Some consequences of this shift in perspective are the rising costs of tuition and soaring student debt, and the financial struggles that any institution with an educational mission has.
No library is exempt from this trend, and no library can afford to go it alone anymore. But forming and maintaining a consortium isn’t simply about shared purchasing power anymore. Shared purchasing power is simply a tool for achieving greater ends. Some of those ends are coming under increasing threat. The income and wealth distribution gap is getting wider daily, having real consequences on our service area population and their needs. Corporations wield immense power and influence, and profit not just from what they charge to libraries for their products but also from the data - our data - that is considered an asset and a commodity.
But corporations are not people. They may exist as legal entities, but the reality is they are made up of people who have the opportunity of choice. Marmot is no different. Marmot exists only as an outcome of our collectivity. And because Marmot is a member-driven consortium, each of us as individuals have the responsibilities of choice for how we function in our communities. The same is true for each of your libraries. Chris Painter was recently recognized for her 35 years of service to Bud Werner, and for the leadership she has demonstrated in supporting her staff development and community involvement events. But Bud Werner - despite being a building - is still just a label for the excellent dynamic actions that take place between the staff and the patrons. Never forget that we are individuals first, and that the institutions we serve are representations of ourselves rather than the other way around.
This final quote is up here to remind us - all of us - to be courageous. We are living in confusing and turbulent times, and it is up to us - as individuals - to make choices that uphold our values as librarians.
Now that I’m stepping off my soapbox, I would like to very quickly recap Marmot’s activities since this time last year.
Added two new Voting Member Libraries
Completed all Pika implementation commitments that had been made
Completed a reorganization of Marmot staff
Hired a new Developer
Reviewed and prioritized the backlog of Pika tickets
Began clarifying policies and financial procedures
Conducted a time-tracking study of Marmot staff time
Implemented a new employee evaluation procedure
Established quarterly meetings of the Colorado Library Organizations group
Developed a partnership with the Colorado Educational Broadband Coalition
Beyond this list, we have undertaken and completed several sizable projects since Council took place in May.
Completely revamped the structure of Marmot’s budget
Developed expense and fee projections for 2021
Pika - Sierra API Integration
Co-hosted the world’s largest FOLIO Meet-up
Prepared and presented a charter for a Public Library Special Interest Group for identifying and prioritizing FOLIO development of public library requirements
We also prepared a new representation of Marmot’s value to the libraries that make up Marmot. This was shared at Council in May, but I don’t get tired of pointing out the cost avoidance all of you generated in 2018 by sharing resources - over $5million. This doesn’t include the shared OverDrive collection, which is worth $1.3 million, or the efficiency of IT Services.
And finally, my biggest personal project this past year was conducting the 360 evaluation, analyzing and sharing the results, and building a plan around those results. To quickly review, the 360 evaluation consisted of focus groups with library directors, a survey distributed to all member library staff, and a deep dive of historical financial and operational data. Because the operational plan for Marmot’s future is built on the findings of this 360 evaluation, here is a very quick review of those findings.
Because there has been so much change in staffing, among the Marmot staff, among the library directors, and within each library’s staff - it is essential to keep in mind the underlying “truths” of Marmot, which I call the Four Noble Truths.
Marmot is a consortium first and foremost, not a company.
It was founded by libraries for libraries - to accomplish together what no one library could do alone.
Marmot’s incorporation as a non-profit is a legal mechanism that enables greater return on investment for members’ participation, including hiring staff
Marmot staff are entrusted with day-to-day operations of Marmot’s services, long-term visioning of future library needs, and innovative projects that bring value to the collective and the individual libraries that make up the collective.
The specific findings were grouped into four domains: culture and management, sense of community, Marmot staff, and service programs and growth.
In the culture and management domain, the two specific findings were:
A realignment of the Marmot consortium’s vision, mission, and value statements is needed to better reflect members’ desires for Marmot’s future as a member-driven consortium.
There is a critical need for emergency and financial planning to minimize risk to all Marmot member libraries in the event of an operational or financial catastrophe.
Within the sense of community domain, the two key findings were:
There is a keen desire for Marmot staff to play a more active role in building and maintaining a sense of community that unites the Voting Members, including more in-person contact and active listening to members.
Training, training, training. There is a very high desire for more training, on more topics, in more formats, accessible in different manners.
For the Marmot staff domain, the evaluation found:
Marmot staff are entrusted by the member libraries to be innovators, in order to keep libraries’ services updated and relevant to user communities.
The success of the consortium is built on employing excellent staff in the central office. Attention needs to be given to Marmot staff retention, adequate staffing levels, and support for professional development.
The final domain, service programs and growth include
There is support for thoughtful, judicious, and moderate growth based on data and positive contributions to the consortium. Discovery Partner growth remains second to growing regional members that are active participants in the consortium and resource sharing, and should be done in moderation with a balanced focus on Voting Member priorities. Voting Member and Discovery Partner growth does serve to diversify the consortium’s revenue portfolio and potentially reduce costs to Voting Members. Growth of any type should include realistic appraisals of Marmot staff time and resources needed. The Discovery Partner business and membership model needs some recalibration.
Library staff and directors expressed clear preferences for service program improvement and new services Marmot staff should lead in exploring.
So conducting the 360, gathering lots of feedback from you, and putting together this report is all well and good, but now what? The development of an operational plan for Marmot’s future has intentionally been a year-long effort, with the first part of 2019 dedicated to the 360. Based on these findings, Marmot staff have been working on an operational plan. I would like to share an overview of that operational plan with you now.
The key findings and domains of the 360 evaluation were distilled into 3 goals for Marmot’s next five years. Those three goals are:
Goal 1: Build Community
Goal 2: Enhance or Expand Service Programs
Goal 3: Improve Administrative Infrastructure
In order to make progress on each of these goals, we have identified specific initiatives that Marmot will undertake.
For the first goal, Building Community, the three initiatives are:
Develop and implement a comprehensive Training Curriculum that encompasses orientation & onboarding; “majors;” learning outcomes for specific courses; course sequences that build on the advancement of learning; delivery methods; and scheduling.
Host regional meetings around the state each year for in-person collaboration and training.
Develop and use a clear methodology for identifying or vetting possible new Voting Members, Associate Members, and IT Services subscribers to carefully add member libraries that contribute to the value of the overall consortium.
The second goal - enhance or expand service programs - is much broader and contains 9 initiatives.
Develop and complete a plan for cross-training employees on essential services such as data backups, Apple support, and systems administration.
Conduct feasibility studies of the desired innovations expressed in the 360 evaluation and, for potential new services, pilot in volunteer libraries.
Carefully consider a “Comprehensive Support” model for Marmot staff to serve as full IT support for ALL library technology.
Develop and implement a clearly articulated, transparent, and member-driven method of ongoing prioritization of common and unique needs and desires in Pika.
Identify publishers or vendors - not already provided by Marmot’s allies - which offer content or services relevant to Marmot libraries that are available for consortial sharing. Work with allies or set up Marmot-specific service models for any adopted vendors.
Establish a long-range task force for identifying needs/desires, feasibility, and interest/commitment for a new ILS, while monitoring FOLIO developments and providing awareness to Colorado libraries in conjunction with CliC and the Alliance.
Investigate Event Management/Calendar systems for implementation
Develop and implement an expansion of Marmot’s current hosting services, investigating options for Marmot to host VuFind, Sierra, archive systems, or other systems as a supplemental source of income.
Develop an ongoing data collection, research/assessment, and analysis program addressing the value of Marmot membership, recurring reports required of libraries by the State, their parent institutions, and national statistics programs, technology feasibility studies, and custom research or assessment consulting.
The third goal is focused on improving Marmot’s administrative infrastructure. There are 5 specific initiatives associated with this goal.
Review and/or update all Marmot policies and governance documents, develop a schedule for recurring review, and compile a Board orientation manual.
Administer an effective and affordable staff retention plan that includes paid and unpaid benefits, as well as a culture supportive of professional development and innovation.
Develop and implement a comprehensive capital plan that accounts for funding sources/strategies, benchmarks, capitalizable technology expenses, investment goals, and account definitions of acceptable use.
Develop a clear and comprehensive emergency plan encompassing technology failures, physical disasters, personnel emergency procedures, and financial emergencies.
Pursue the highest standards of security, privacy, and accessibility, including recurring external security audits; formal certification of Marmot staff in appropriate security assessment methodologies; and compliance with both GDPR and WCAG 2.1 accessibility guidelines.
I know this is a lot to absorb. It is a lot to attempt. But I believe that Marmot’s continued success requires progress on each of these goals. Keep in mind that this is a five year plan, and that no plan survives contact with reality. I’m sure we won’t complete all of these in five years, and some initiatives may change as time goes on. But it is important to set challenging goals for ourselves. One quote from a focus group was that participation in Marmot, and the work provided by Marmot staff, is the make the member libraries look good to their communities. These initiatives are grounded in that notion.
I am excited about putting together a set of directions for Marmot that are responsive to the feedback that you provided. At dinner tonight, you will have a chance to provide feedback on these goals and initiatives, and in the meantime, I welcome any questions or thoughts you have now.