Daniel: System should be ‘right-sized’

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By Peter H. Milliken



Heidi M. Daniel, the incoming director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, said it’s too soon for her to say what she might change about the library system’s operation, but that the system should be sized appropriately for this community.

“My interest would be in having what we would call a ‘right-sized’ library system, which means that it’s neither too big for its service area nor too small,” she said.

Library officials should consider whether they have too many branches; whether some branches could be combined; explore leasing, rather than owning, library space; or whether some library services can be combined with other entities in a multiservice center, she said Monday.

Daniel, who most recently supervised 16 branches of the Houston public library, officially becomes director of the 16-branch library system here Wed-nesday. Having begun working here July 18, she succeeds Carlton Sears, who retires today after leading the system for 15 years.

“I don’t know yet how many buildings we would want to expand or renovate or build, or if we would want to move into a leasing model,” Daniel said.

“You want facilities to be welcoming and inviting and a place where the community wants to be, so, at some point, you do have to look at a building’s age and condition and whether you’re going to renovate, build out on that property or demolish and start over,” she added.

Janet Loew, communications and public relations director, noted that the library broke ground late Monday for its new $1.7 million Jackson-Milton branch, which will be a free-standing building on the east end of the local school grounds.

The new building, which will open next year on school-donated land, will replace two existing branches, one each in North Jackson and Lake Milton.

Daniel said the library system here is “adequately funded at the moment. I’m very grateful for the levies that were passed,” including the new, five-year, 1.8-mill countywide levy that passed in November 2010, she said.

“My focus now is looking at what we’re doing with the funds we have now,” to ensure that the taxpayers are getting the best value for their investment in the libraries, Daniel said.

She said she is glad to see the genealogy-research resources at the main library here seem to be “really well-used.” They may be “in need of some newer technology, or maybe access to slightly different electronic resources,” she said, adding that she is thinking of ways to strengthen that program.

In an interview with The Vindicator’s editorial board, Daniel also addressed the range of print and electronic media the libraries now offer, including the emerging electronic technologies, such as e-books.

“I would say, in five years, we’ll definitely have fewer print materials than we do now. The degree to which that will be fewer, I can’t say. I do expect there to be an increase in the amount of e-resources we offer,” she said.

She added, however, “Right now, that’s not necessarily always cost-efficient, either, so we really have to look at the costs, too.”

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