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[BKARTS] Library board reviews security issues

Library board reviews security issues
The Oskaloosa Herald  12/16/2003

Oskaloosa Library Board members voted to let the library remain
closed on Tuesday, Jan. 6, until 3 p.m. so the old security gates can
be removed and the new 3M security equipment installed.

The new state-of-the-art system is designed to reduce theft of
library materials, keep a constant inventory of what is in and what
is out of the library, and even allow patrons to check out their own
books without having to wait in line at the circulation desk.

Volunteers have been coding books and other materials to be read by
the 3M security system, which should be much more reliable than the
current security gate, which often sounds the alarm for no apparent
reason and picks up interference from radio signals.

The system also includes security coding on library materials
designed to be undetectable to potential thieves and therefore
unlikely to be removed.

The new system was approved shortly before Nancy Simpson retired as
library director in June 2003, and cost close to $75,000. The total
cost was paid with memorial funds.

The library also approved the new SIRSI online catalog and
circulation system at the same time; that put the total cost for
SIRSI and the 3M system at well over $100,000, all paid with memorial
money from Darlene Fleck and Howard France.

There was a delay in installing the 3M system because it wasn't
working with the SIRSI system, but that problem has been corrected.

3M hopes to have the new security system installed by noon on Jan. 6,
but Library Director Suzann Holland asked for a 3 p.m. opening time
in case of delays. That also will be in time for children to come in
after school.

Holland said the entire system won't be up and running; it will take
some testing before patrons are allowed to use the self-check
stations, she said.

Maintenance budget

The library also discussed its preliminary budget request for the
next fiscal year. The budget included $38,000 for some long-overdue
library maintenance, such as painting and carpet cleaning, to keep
the new building from growing shabby.

About $20,000 of that maintenance money came from the library's
maintenance fund, which stood at well over $1 million in principle.
But interest rates have been so low, the fund was not earning the
interest needed to pay the library's full maintenance costs.

After a struggle with the City Council, the board gained approval to
take $18,000 from the maintenance fund principle, which was over
twice the projected amount, to pick up the cost of painting and other
routine maintenance that has been put off while the library struggled
to buy computers and other items that also must come from the
maintenance fund.

But an unexpected windfall in undesignated memorial money from Fritz
Moyer gives the board the ability to return that $18,000 to the
maintenance fund, if board members wish. Many feel this would be a
good-will gesture to the city for allowing the board to dip into the
maintenance fund principle.

The preliminary budget projects $22,000 in interest earnings for the
maintenance fund in 2004-05, with no special projects planned.

Holland said in 2005-06, interest income should double if the library
is allowed to put some of its liquid funds into investments to earn
interest for the maintenance fund.

The library is scheduled to make its budget request to the Oskaloosa
City Council on Jan. 19.

The library board also voted to spend $4,520 in Enrich Iowa funds to
pay staff salaries for extended library hours. During the school
year, the library is open until 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and until 5
p.m. Friday and Saturday. This gives the library enough open hours to
qualify as a certified library under state regulations.

Enrich Iowa funds come from the state. This year's amount is "a few
hundred" more than last year's, Holland said.

The board decided to delay action on a request for a neon sign for
the children's computer lab.

The board allocated $14,000 for new computers, software, educational
games, painting, improved lighting and artwork for the dreary room.

Holland said her investigation shows that a neon sign would cost far
less than installing more powerful traditional lights.

She added that the problem is not so much a lack of light as just the
general drabness of the room. Lighter-colored paint and removal of
unused shelves should brighten the room, she said, and the neon sign
would cost less than $1,000, allowing the total budget for the room
to come in under $11,000.

But board members said they want to see what the room looks like with
new paint and the shelves removed.

They also want to wait to see how billing problems with MidAmerican
Energy are resolved.





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