All but the last two of the following questions were answered by Mark Smith, transition team leader for the Maryland-based Library Systems and Services LLC, known as LSSI.
Can I use my old library card?
Will LSSI still offer interlibrary loans to the public, and if so, will there be a fee?
Yes. The fee will remain $5.
Will the average patron notice any difference in how libraries operate under LSSI?
For the most part, no. Most of the staff will be the same (though some have moved to new positions). The libraries will look the same. They will be open fewer hours, but we will work hard to provide the best possible service during the hours we are open and after hours via the library's Web site, www.jcls.org.
What kind of oversight will Jackson County give LSSI?
The county's oversight is via its contract with LSSI, which sets out requirements for the operation of the libraries. The county has assigned a county employee to monitor LSSI's performance to ensure compliance with the contract.
Will any books be banned? What is LSSI's process if someone wants to ban certain materials?
How library materials are selected and retained is governed by county policy. Library staff will continue to build the collection according to that policy, which does, by the way, spell out how to receive challenges from the public to books or other materials in the library.
How does the benefit package for employees of LSSI compare with what they had under the union contract? Will as many employees have health coverage as before? Does LSSI offer any retirement benefit?
I'm not fully aware of what the union benefits were or how many staff participated. LSSI offers holiday and vacation pay to any employee working 20 or more hours per week. LSSI offers health and dental insurance to any employee working 30 or more hours per week. I believe the employee contribution to insurance is greater than it was with the union; however, that contribution does decrease in subsequent years. As a private company, LSSI cannot offer a public pension plan, but we do offer a 401(k) plan with an employer contribution after one year of employment.
How many full-time and part-time employees will LSSI have?
At the present — and we haven't finished our hiring — we have 19 full-time employees, 16 employees working at least 30 hours, and another 24 working between 20 and 30 hours. If we have the opportunity to expand hours in any locations, existing staff will have the first opportunity to expand hours up to 40.
What will LSSI's policy be regarding past-due books that weren't turned in after the libraries closed?
According to library policy, staff must collect these fines and fees.
Who can we call if we'd like different operating hours?
Hours are set by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners with advice from the Library Advisory Committee. Communities such as Ashland and Talent that will contribute local funds are also consulted regarding the hours they would like for their local libraries. Suggestions for different hours can be made to library staff and will be forwarded to the Board of Commissioners, the Library Advisory Committee and the contributing local agencies.
Will programs for youth services continue?
Yes, youth programs are a priority and will be available from the outset.
Will the purchasing budget be cut for books and other materials, such as DVDs, periodicals, etc.?
No. The annual budget for library materials remains at the same level as prior to the closure: $600,000 for the system as a whole.
Did periodicals lapse during the closure?
No. All magazines were received during the closure and will be distributed to the branches to be available on opening day.
Will the senior outreach program continue?
Yes, but we do not yet have details of whether or not it will be offered in exactly the same way as it was prior to the closure. As soon as we know, we will be in touch with former customers of the service to communicate to them how it will work.
What's your policy if law enforcement asks to see a list of books checked out by an individual?
The Jackson County Library Service is bound by the county's library patron confidentiality policy. Requests from law enforcement for customer records will be forwarded to the county counsel's office for review and decision.
How long can materials be checked out and what will overdue fees be?
All materials except DVDs and magazines can be checked out for three weeks. DVDs and magazines can be checked out for one week. Overdue fines will remain exactly as they had been before the closure.
How many items can patrons check out at once?
There is no limit to the total number of items a customer can check out.
Will there still be "amnesty day," when you can return those materials that were hiding behind the sofa and not be fined?
We do not have any plans for an amnesty day at present.
How soon can I reserve materials online?
This service will be suspended for the first two weeks following re-opening. We plan to restart this service shortly after Nov. 11.
It seems like what we have now is a library system that operates half as many hours for about half as much money, with nonunion employees. Why didn't the commissioners just say $4 million is all we can afford, and let the library managers and the union figure out what they could do?
When the commissioners started the process, they didn't know whether they would have any money available to outsource. They decided to ask for bids to operate the libraries at previous service levels. When the bids came back, LSSI's was markedly lower than the union's offer and the county now had $23 million extra from a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. The county then worked with LSSI to bring the costs down further so that it would have enough money to operate the libraries for about three years. The total budget is $4.3 million annually, or about half the previous budget. Each community can add hours back. In Medford, four additional hours a week would cost $80,000 annually. In the Applegate, $10,000 annually would provide an extra four hours.
Why are some of the outlying branches so big?
Residents in communities throughout the county donated an additional $1.4 million to build better libraries. Talent had the most donations at $328,000. Medford came in second at $309,000. Ruch is third at $204,000 and Applegate is fourth at $190,0000.