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The Life of a Book at Menomonee Falls Public Library!

several new books displayed spines out on a book shelf

Chapter 1: How a Book is Chosen

This is a story about a book and the journey it takes to get on the library shelves and into your hands.  All library materials take this journey.  At times it’s a quick journey.  At times it’s a slow journey.

First we’ll need a budget.  Then we’ll select our book.  Something between James Patterson, who releases a book almost every week, and Diana Gabaldon, who makes us wait almost a decade between her Outlander titles.  Along the way we’ll meet up with staff who help prepare the book for circulation.

Like sand through the hourglass, these are the, oh never mind.  We don’t want sand anywhere near the books.  It gets stuck in the dust jacket and can sometimes damage the book.  What’s a dust jacket?  Don’t worry, we’ll get there.  First, our budget.

The Budget

The budget is made partially by your tax dollars.  Let’s hear from our Library Director, Jackie Rammer, on how the budget is put together.

Library Director Jackie Rammer

Property Taxes

“The Library’s budget is largely made up of funding from local property taxes. We also receive reimbursement through Waukesha County when people who live in communities without a Library use our services. When people who live in adjacent counties such as Washington and Ozaukee use our Library and they live in a municipality that does not have a Library of its own, we also receive reimbursement from those counties for the usage of our Library. All of this is governed in Wisconsin state statutes. Additional revenue is brought in through overdue charges for materials and charges for services such as printing and copying,” Director Rammer explains.

Waukesha County Library Levy

“The Village of Menomonee Falls is able to obtain an exemption from the 2022 Waukesha County Library Levy if the municipality agrees to expend no less than the county library tax rate in the prior year, which this year is $0.229096 per $1,000 equalized value. The Village Board approves an exemption each year. That way, residents are able to fund our local library instead of paying into the county library levy.”

Minimum Service Standards

In addition, Waukesha County has something called the Waukesha County Library Services Plan which sets forth minimum service standards we must uphold based on the municipal population of Menomonee Falls. Some of these standards include things like the amount of hours we are open a week, the amount we must spend on materials each year, and the amount of staff we have. “Without sufficient funding, we would be unable to meet these standards and local taxpayers could face a penalty,” Director Rammer explains. “We monitor the budget incredibly closely in order to ensure we meet these standards while remaining fiscally responsible and providing excellent service.” Library staff are very grateful for everyone’s assistance during the budgeting process, including the finance staff at Village Hall. We rely on steady and reliable funding in order to continue to provide the community excellent service.

Budget Allocation

The Director and Business Manager work with the Librarians in order to determine how much money each department needs to purchase materials. The amount we spend on materials each year is divided up by department and collection. Fiction, large print, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, mystery, and all of the teen and children’s collections are allocated a certain amount each year. Then, Librarians work on something called collection development: the process of curating a collection of materials in their assigned sections through research and purchasing.

Now let’s look at some books to buy. Selectors are given their budget and can start selecting material for purchase.

Book Selection

Here’s Kifflie, our Adult Services Manager, to explain the selection process.

“When selecting materials, our librarians consult professional journals such as Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly.  We read the reviews in these magazines and make our choices based on what we believe will be of the most interest to our patrons.  If it looks like the item will be a bestseller, we will order multiple copies.  We also order popular titles in formats such as large print, audiobooks on CD, and Playaways.  Our goal is to have a collection that has both breadth (variety) and depth (enough copies available to accommodate demand, within the limits of our budget).” Kifflie has chosen The Winners by Fredrik Backman to add to the large print collection. She reads professional reviews of the title, looks at circulation statistics of his previous books, and decides to order two copies of the large print book from our book vendor.

Adult Services Manager Kifflie Scott

Kifflie sends her cart of books to the acquisitions staff in our technical services department.  Let’s order this book.

Ordering Materials

Our staff checks over the order request and places it with one of our many vendors.  Because we have so many different types of material, they need to watch every detail of the orders to make sure everything is put through correctly.  Different vendors, different types of materials, different collections, lots of details. 

Tech Services/Circulation Clerk Anne K.

The library is constantly ordering material for its collections.  Have you ever preordered something?  The library does the same thing.  As soon as it’s ordered, you can search it and place a hold on it in our catalog.  So a title may show in our catalog months in advance of the publish date.  Place that hold and be patient.  We still have work to do to get that onto the library shelves and in some cases it hasn’t even been printed yet.

Stay tuned next week for Chapter 2 when we get to unbox the new books and get them ready to be put on the shelves!