This is an overview of the environment, timeframe of events, and activities during and after the consolidation of the Central Jersey, Highlands, and South Jersey Regional Library Cooperatives with INFOLINK. This reflects the Executive Director’s perspective, documents actions for the combined membership, and provides the context for the FY11 Transition Plan. Even though Executive Boards were changing, there was ongoing coordination with Board Officers.
Cheryl O’Connor, Executive Director
The FY2010 Budget Environment.
The economic environment in the country and in the State of New Jersey between July 2009 and June 2010 was bleak. Unemployment figures worsened. Revenue from state taxes decreased. Library budgets, library staffing levels, and library services of all types were viewed as cost-saving opportunities by those in government. Within this environment, events evolved and decisions were made which resulted ultimately in the consolidation of four Regional Library Cooperatives into one, LibraryLinkNJ.
Evolution of Events impacting the Regional Library Cooperatives – a Selected Overview
- In the expectation of future budget cuts, the State Librarian directs the Regional Library Cooperatives to cease new contracts, new hires, and the launch of new services through the end of the fiscal year.
January – February 2010
- Governor Chris Christie assumes office.
- Regional Library Cooperatives lose 5% of funding in a mid-year cut.
- Governor Christie releases his FY2011 proposed budget which calls for a 74% decrease in funding for statewide library services. This cut includes the elimination of all statewide library programs and services. This budget includes a proposal to move Thomas Edison College to Rutgers University.
- Library Associations within New Jersey develop advocacy plans for the restoration of funds for libraries.
- Local municipalities develop budget cut responses that reduce funding for local services.
- Reduced funding for public libraries results in plans and/or implements reduced hours, reduced services, staff furloughs and/or layoffs.
- Local School Boards of Education develop budget cut responses that include reduced funding and staffing levels in school library media centers.
- Colleges and universities develop budget responses that include reduced funding for their libraries.
- Hospitals develop budget cut responses that include reduced funding and staffing levels and/or merging of medical libraries.
- For-profit and not-for-profit entities develop budget cut responses that include reduced funding and/or elimination of their libraries.
- Advocacy efforts of library associations, librarians and library supporters launch statewide, including NJLA’s Everyday Advocacy Plan to Save NJ Libraries and Save NJ Libraries on Facebook.
- NJLA launches Become a Library Champion fostered by the successful Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS) model.
- State Library staff meets with targeted members of the legislature to provide information on the impact of the budget cuts to libraries and the value of library services.
- Regional Library Cooperatives collaborate in all library advocacies.
- RLC delivery services are restructured by State Library due to the economic situation. INFOLINK informed that remaining funds to be paid the four RLCs for FY 2010 will be combined and distributed through INFOLINK to continue statewide delivery at least through July 2010.
May - June 2010
- The approved New Jersey Budget includes a 46% restoration of funds for libraries.
- Regional Library Cooperatives celebrate twenty-five years of service and mourn forthcoming changes.
- INFOLINK FY2010 Executive Board agrees to continue its term of service into the summer.
- INFOLINK responds to an RFP for QandANJ Services.
- On July 6, State Librarian announces the consolidation of the Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, the Highlands Regional Library Cooperative, and the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative into one remaining cooperative: INFOLINK.
- State Library presents webinars on the Status of the New Jersey State Library and Statewide Cooperative Supported Services, July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011
- Central Jersey, Highlands and South Jersey Regional Library Cooperatives commence a dissolution process under the direction of CJRLC Executive Director Connie Paul, HRLC Executive Director Joanne Roukens, and SJRLC Executive Director Karen Hyman
- INFOLINK proposes a transition budget to the State Library
- INFOLINK transition budget funded at $1.840 million for staff, office, delivery and continuing education services.
- INFOLINK awarded $300,000 contract for QandANJ Services.
- INFOLINK Executive Board approves a Memorandum of Agreement to collaborate with NJLA on the South Jersey Works grant.
- South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative assists INFOLINK in the transition of QandANJ staff and services.
- State Library and the Statewide Cooperative participate in meetings held across the state in July and into August with updates on State Library and Statewide Cooperative Services.
- Consolidation begins with the Regional Library Cooperatives’ sharing of membership and delivery information with INFOLINK.
- State Library awarded a contract with INFOLINK for statewide services on August 6.
- Central Jersey, Highlands and South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative staffs begin to disperse.
- INFOLINK begins staff recruitment with a need for presence, focus and outreach in the northern, central and southern areas of the state.
- INFOLINK starts on a new website to reflect a merged membership and services.
- Delivery Services Advisory Task Force meets to consider issues relating to a merged delivery service and recommends INFOLINK negotiate a contract renewal with Velocity Express for calendar year 2011.
- Central Jersey, Highlands, INFOLINK and South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative Executive Directors and Board Presidents work to form a Transition Executive Board.
- INFOLINK receives first funding check of $900,000 on August 24.
- Central Jersey, Highlands and South Jersey Regional Library Cooperatives offices close on August 27, 2010.
- Transition Executive Board holds its first meeting, approves the start of negotiations with Velocity Express and establishes a continuing education fee structure.
- September 13: Assistant Director and Program Coordinator, Central start with INFOLINK. The Assistant Director serves also as the Program Coordinator, North.
- Membership is surveyed regarding a new name for the Cooperative and responds with 151 suggestions.
- October 12: Program Coordinator, South starts with INFOLINK.
- Delivery Services Advisory Task Force recommends no imposed fees for service for calendar year 2011.
- Transition Executive Board approves a contract renewal with Velocity Express; agrees not to impose a delivery cost share to members eligible for delivery service for 2011; elects Board officers; establishes a Name Change Task Force and a Bylaws Task Force and discusses the process for the Transition Plan and the December 9 membership meeting.
- INFOLINK completes office equipment and connectivity upgrade which includes migration to a T-1 Internet service; voice over Internet phone service; smart phone service for telecommuting staff; and remote server access and webcast meeting set-up for telecommuting staff.
- Continuing Education Webinar Service launched.
- Transition Executive Board reviews input from the Name Change Task Force and changes the cooperative name from INFOLINK to LibraryLinkNJ, The New Jersey Library Cooperative; selects dark blue and cream as the organization colors; reviews proposed Bylaws; and discusses the membership meeting format.
- Transition Executive Board reviews and revises Transition Plan.
- Membership meeting is scheduled for early December for Voting Representative consideration of Bylaws and a Transition Plan.
- Proposed Bylaws and Transition Plan posted on November 29 for review by Voting Representatives of LibraryLinkNJ. Membership Meeting registration with proxy option announced.
- The Membership meeting is scheduled in three locations for December 9, 2010. With video conferencing connections, the LibraryLinkNJ Board President and Executive Director work to provide a services and budget update to the membership. Voting Representatives will discuss and vote on the proposed Bylaws and proposed Transition Plan. Members will provide input on the forthcoming strategic planning process.
- Continuing Education Service for Onsite, On Demand Staff Development launched.
- Membership meeting is conducted on December 9, 2010, with time for networking and a business meeting. Three sites are connected by video conference: Rutgers Scholarly Communication Center (New Brunswick), Passaic County Community College Academic Center (Wanaque Campus); and the Enterprise Center at Burlington County College.
- Threats to library funding continue.
- Statewide Technology Group formed to provide guidance for programs and training.
- Onsite, On Demand Continuing Education for School Librarians Program launched.
- Executive Board approves four Board representatives to the Library Network Review Board.
- Collaboration between LibraryLinkNJ and State Library’s Library Development consultants coalesces on statewide activities and program offerings.
- LibraryLinkNJ works to collaborate with all multi-type library associations in NJ.
February – June 2011
- Transition Plan implementation continues.
- Strategic Planning process will commence including a discussion of continuing education, delivery and other services.
- LibraryLinkNJ’s Executive Board and administrative staff view strategic thinking and planning as an ongoing process within the organization. The development and adoption of a three-year. strategic plan for consideration at the Spring 2011 membership meeting will be an affirmation of the general intent and direction articulated by the vision, goals, and objectives as expressed by the membership.
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