Library needs increased IT support
April 30, 2014
By Chad Ingram
The Haliburton County Public Library system needs increased IT support, the library’s CEO told council last week.
Bessie Sullivan visited county councillors during their April 23 meeting, delivering her annual general report.
She also delivered a report on IT support, which dealt with the need for more staff time, more staff or other solutions to deal with the county’s growing computer fleet.
“There’s a lot of pressure on county IT,” Sullivan told councillors. “The more we build libraries . . . and put more and more computers into them . . . we have to come up with a way to support them.”
There are 55 computers spread throughout the library’s eight branches, 34 of them for public use.
A new library is nearly ready to open in Wilberforce, which will include more computers.
In 2012, Industry Canada discontinued funding for IT support for public computers under its Community Access Program.
“The increased strain on County IT resources is becoming more obvious to the library staff, the library board, and the public who use the technology,” Sullivan’s report to council read.
“At the library’s full capacity there could be 306 people a day using computers at nine locations across the county and countless others using library connectivity 24/7.”
Users of the county’s public computers range from those seeking employment to students completing homework to people running errands on lunch hour to county residents without high-speed Internet.
The report noted that on top of the computers themselves, there are laptops, printers, photocopiers and phones that need to be supported.
One recommendation in the report was the expansion of the role of the library’s troubleshooting staffer, known as the library champion (LC).
“Having a library champion (LC) will make sense in the long run, but any tasks we add to the LC’s workload will require more of the LC’s time,” the report read.
“One possible solution to reduce time travelling to sites is increased remote capabilities for the LC. For the LC to take an active role in IT without compromising the LC’s other duties will require more paid hours. The LC currently works 35 hours a week, potentially the LC could work 40 hours a week.”
Other recommendations included increasing paid hours for current IT staff, or adding staff members.
The county’s IT department consists of two people.
Another recommendation was contracting out some of the work.
“Are we going to go back and address why we need so many libraries?” asked Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
The library’s eight branches are located in Minden, Haliburton, Dorset, Stanhope, Wilberforce, Cardiff, Highland Grove and Gooderham.
Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge pointed out the smallest branches in her municipality only have one public-access computer each.
“It’s all about the use,” said Fearrey.
“It’s all about having to service one that’s 30 miles out.”
Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen, who sits on the library board, said reviewing that concern is part of a strategic plan process.
A report on staffing strains in the IT department is expected to come before councillors next month.
Circulation at the library grew by three per cent in 2013, to 144,000 items from 138,756 the previous year.
It added more than 6,500 items to its catalogue, bringing its total items count to more than 49,000.