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Notes from the Executive Director – Nov/Dec 2019

On November 6, MCLS Board President Edra Waterman, Board Audit Committee member Joel Scheuher, and I presented during the 2019 MCLS Annual Membership Meeting. Thanks to all who participated to keep up with what’s happening with our organization. For those who missed the meeting, I’ll use my space in this month’s newsletter to provide a brief recap of what we covered.

Edra began by recognizing our 2019 Board officers, outgoing and new Board members (including new member Trista Smith from the Newburgh Chandler Public Library), and recent Board election results. We’re happy to share that Edra (Hamilton East Public Library), Annie Bélanger (Grand Valley State University), and Joel (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) have all been reelected to a new three-year term (2020-2022). Edra also announced our 2020 Board officers:

Next, Joel provided the 2019 audit report. We were thankful to have received an “unmodified” opinion (i.e., a clean audit) and are pleased that we ended FY2019 with $34,660 in revenue over expenses for the year, due partly to strong investment performance. I always find our figures interesting, because they’re determined not only by the services we provide at what cost, but also variables such as timing for receivables and payables.

Edra and I then framed some discussion of what MCLS has been working on this year, in the context of our Ends, i.e., our broad and aspirational statement of why we exist (a part of our governance system that is explained in more detail in our Board Policy Manual). The staff and I have covered much of that information in other places, and many member libraries have been involved (if you have questions, please ask!)

Finally, Edra provided some data about and from members, including some of what we learned from this year’s engagement survey. The Board and I thank the 588 individuals, from directors and managers to front-line staff, who took the time to complete the survey, to give us a current baseline understanding about MCLS members’ awareness of membership benefits. Of those who responded to the survey, 95% indicated that their library is currently an MCLS member. Public libraries accounted for 60% of responses, academic libraries for 33%, and the remaining 7% were from health, school, special, or other types of libraries (or library organizations). It was indicated by 48% of respondents that their libraries have 15 or fewer staff.

More Michigan respondents indicated that they use our services than Indiana respondents did. Across both states, Group Purchasing and Training ranked as the most-used services (and in Michigan, MeLCat and RIDES were both very highly used).

Many members expressed appreciation for what MCLS does for them, but we also found that there are still some libraries who are not fully aware of what MCLS offers. This may be due partly to some respondents being non-supervisory staff who may not participate in decision-making at their library. Further, we found that some have needs that MCLS is not meeting yet (and that is of particular interest to me). It’s clear to us that MCLS needs to market our services more, and the staff and I will work toward that in the coming year.

Moving forward, our Board and the committee responsible for the survey will work on strategies for how Board members can stay connected with you and what you need. If you have ideas or thoughts about that, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the Board members (a list is linked from our Board page). Along with our staff and me, the MCLS Board of Directors takes its responsibility to keep our organization linked to member needs very seriously. The Community Conversations, surveys, and other ways we ask for member input are very important to us.

While there’s much more I could say, I’ll close here with a few reflections. For many, this is a season to pause and give thanks for the people, opportunities, and more that make our lives meaningful and purposeful. I continue to be thankful every day for the opportunity to work with our members, staff, Board, vendors, and other partners, to foster greater connectedness between and learning within hundreds of libraries throughout Indiana and Michigan, and their communities. Are you thankful for a product or service that MCLS has provided your library? Are there other ways we could support you? Please let us know. Connect with me anytime at, or by phone at (800) 530-9019 ext 119.