State Librarian’s Report
Ohio Regional Library Systems:
Another example of cooperation and collaboration
When I first arrived at the State Library of Ohio to accept the position of State Librarian, we had seven Regional Library Systems (RLS).Over the prior several biennia, these RLS had suffered severe reductions in their budgets – more than 44% had been cut from their funding over that course of time. Increases in the funding were not likely; in fact, we were hopeful that there would be no additional cuts. We were all fairly certain that should this happen, it is unlikely that our RLS could survive.
The State Library created a task force comprised of RLS directors, members and State Library staff to look at the situation and make recommendations. After several meetings, a member of the task force asked “In an ideal world, what would regional library systems look like?” which led the group to brainstorm various scenarios.
The recommendations (more detail is available at www.library.ohio.gov/LS/Directories/statecharterreg
were accepted by the RLS and ultimately led to the formation of the four Regional Library Systems. At this time we were able to redraw the boundaries of the RLS to ensure that all libraries in the state of Ohio are included in a regional library system. At this time we also created a “geographic” (sometimes called “core” or “associate”) membership, thus ensuring that all libraries had a connection to a Regional Library System.
RLS are membership organizations and, in my opinion, this is their great strength. While each Regional Library System offers continuing education (CE) as its core service, each may offer different CE to meet its membership needs. In addition, the extended services will vary from RLS to RLS, again depending upon the needs and wishes of the membership.
There are a great many opportunities that present themselves when we work in partnership across library service organizations. A good example is the Ohio Ready to Read initiative which includes OLC, the RLS, and the State Library. By working together we are able to bring important training to the librarians across the state.
Other opportunities are just around the corner! (More on this next month, I promise…)
I am convinced that the stronger each library service organization is within our community, the stronger we are collectively and the better we are able to serve our customers – you, the librarians of Ohio.