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Public Libraries: Creative Staffing at Torrance Public Library


Article List
Academic Libraries
      Disaster Recovery at Rio Hondo Community College
      Serials Holding Display Project at University of Southern California
      Staffing Strategies in Academic Libraries

AIM in the News
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SBVC Fall Convocation
      Belinda Beardt, Speaker at SCALL Fall Meeting
      Linda McKell Awarded the Mark Baer Award

AIM Services
      AIM Outplacement Services

Job Search Tips
      Electronic Resume
      Frequently Asked Interview Questions
      Interviewing Tips & Techniques
      Interviewing: From Both Sides of the Table
      Networking Quickies
      Questions to Ask the Interviewer
      Resume Writing Tips
      Retooling Your Career
      The Ten Commandments of Interviewing
      What else can I do with my Library Tech degree or certificate?
      What NOT to ask during an interview?
      Where to Find Library Jobs

Professional Development
      SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND the Annual General Meeting of the Society of California Ar

Public Libraries
      AIM's Project Team tackles San Francisco Public Library Project
      Creative Staffing at Torrance Public Library
      Fresno County Partners with AIM
      Solano County Library Expands

Special Libraries
      Consultants Provide Solutions
      Law Libraries - Staffing Strategies
      Microfilming History
      Non-Traditional Libraries
      The Law Librarian Employment Market

Creative Staffing at Torrance Public Library


Few things are more exhilarating to a librarian than being able to add services. So when the City of Torrance City Council allocated the funds for his proposal to reinstate Sunday services at the main library, Jim Buckley, Torrance City Librarian, was delighted. As Jim says, “all cities have a multitude of demands on their resources, and it’s a tribute to the Torrance city council that they continually support the purpose and operations of the Library.”

As the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County and headquarters for major employers such as Honda, Toyota, Epson, and Kubota, Torrance is a busy segment of Southern California. The three story Katy Geissert Civic Center Library and five neighborhood branches comprising the Torrance Public Library system contain over 400,000 books and approximately 900 periodical subscriptions, as well as audiocassettes, videocassettes, compact discs, books-on-tape, pamphlets, and government documents. Computerized catalog and checkout systems provide access to the Library's many resources. The Library currently offers a mix of electronic and print services, many of which can be accessed by modem from a home or office computer.

Sunday Staffing Gets Approval

With funding and official approval from the City, Jim turned to the many operational details that would need to be addressed. Because of the finite nine-month term and Sunday hours, staffing the three story main library would not be easy. Senior members of Jim’s staff, led by Paula Weiner and Norm Reeder, Library Programs Administrators, prepared a request for proposal (RFP) detailing the staffing requirements, skill levels of the various positions, and vendor responsibilities including insurance requirements and human resources policies. Having provided project staffing at a number of public libraries since being founded in 1984, AIM was able to respond to the RFP quickly and with great specificity. After some fine tuning, AIM representatives appeared before the City Council to answer final questions and AIM was approved as the provider of Torrance Library’s Sunday staffing.

AIM searched its comprehensive database of pre-screened, qualified candidates to assemble a project team of professional librarians and paraprofessionals. Due to the length of time and the number of Sundays involved, Belinda Beardt, AIM Regional Manager, identified backups for each of the positions. After some discussions with the Library’s collective bargaining unit, the proposed schedule was posted and existing library personnel were allowed to bid for shifts, according to seniority. Once the Torrance employees had made their selections, Belinda filled in the unclaimed shifts with AIM employees and prepared a master schedule.

Managing a Seamless Operation

Next to be addressed was training. Since the staff would be working on Sunday with only one Torrance supervisor on duty, it was imperative that everyone be thoroughly familiar with their jobs and the resources at their disposal. The Torrance Library management had done an outstanding job of preparing staff unfamiliar with the Library. A 77-page operations manual for each person was prepared. They also budgeted for two orientation/training sessions for the whole staff, enabling everyone to meet together and gather answers. “It made everything go so smoothly,” recounts Belinda.

Marketing, an increasingly important part of every librarian’s job, had not been overlooked. An announcement was put on the Torrance Library web site. Bookmarks with the information about the expanded services were provided to library patrons in the months leading up to the start of the service.

Following the first Sunday opening, each week brought its own set of rewards and challenges. Belinda had to modify the work schedule almost every week to accommodate family emergencies and illness among both the Torrance and AIM staff. Being a public library meant having to deal with the occasional visitor who would not abide by the Library’s rules and policies. Students with homework questions reminded the staff just how much more complex school is now than in prior years.

Communication and Flexibility are Key

Each new project allows AIM the opportunity to build on its experience while encountering new situations. In this case, it was being responsible for Sunday services using a blended staff of existing library personnel and AIM employees. As is almost always the case, communication and flexibility were the keys to making this project a success. Jim and his staff always took the time to alert AIM to changes as soon as they developed, and AIM returned the courtesy. As Jim graciously put it, “Your flexibility and the many adjustments that you made helped us greatly.” The result was a win-win-win for the patrons, Torrance Library staff, and AIM.



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