Library suggests sharing IT employee with county
Fairfield Public Library director Rebecca Johnson asked if Jefferson County and the library could share a technology support employee to be able to increase the current $15 per hour pay rate.
“In the seven years I’ve been here, we’ve had seven IT staff members,” Johnson told the county board of supervisors at Monday’s meeting. “We went from April to the beginning of this month without one at all.
“The county is using Professional Computer Solutions in Ottumwa at $95 per hour, and I would like to ask considering a partnership, so the county and library can hire one person at about $20 per hour and the county would not use PCS. At $15 per hour, it’s hard to attract qualified applicants.”
Johnson said individuals who have taken the job use the library IT experience to move on to higher-paying positions elsewhere.
Supervisor Lee Dimmitt said first the board would need to review the actual amount of time and money the county spends with PCS annually.
“At this point, I don’t think we spend that much,” Dimmitt said. “The law center has it’s own contract with PCS, separate from the county’s.”
Supervisor Steve Burgmeier said the amount of time/money spent with the contracted computer support company depends upon what is going on in the county.
“Keep in mind, at the library we are increasing technology, not using it less,” said Johnson.
“In lieu of sharing an IT employee, I’d like to request our annual funding be restored to its 2010 level. I did a comparison and the state’s average funding is $16.64 per capita and we’re at $11.50. Our current annual funding is $66,000 but in 2010, it was $72,000.”
The board of supervisors will be hearing presentations from various departments in the next weeks as it prepares to set the new budget.
“Well, you know that $20 per hour rate doesn’t really stay at $20 per hour, it becomes more like a cost of $40 per hour when adding insurance benefits, vacation days and IPERS and everything for an employee,” said supervisor Dick Reed. “I think it’s a great idea for government departments to work together.
“Our public library is very good, and I’d like you to tell your board members I said that,” said Reed. “But when we look at budgets, it’s not always comfortable looking at dollars and cents.”
Johnson said circulation increased in the past year compared to the previous year, from 177,000 to 186,000 items.
“Many libraries are seeing a decrease in circulation,” she said. “Some of the reasons Fairfield Public Library is increasing include our wonderful youth services librarian and programs, Everybody’s Whole Foods went out of the movie rental business and donated all of its collection to the library and we’ve been revamping our adult nonfiction collection. We used to have two people selecting additions to the adult nonfiction area and now we have a team of 10 selecting materials.
“Our stronger circulation includes several online resources,” said Johnson. “We’ve added test preparation curriculum. People can take practice college entrance exams such as the A.C.T. and S.A.T. at the library, as well as occupational testing.
“Thanks to the library foundation, we’re about to replace all of our 2006 computers on the staff side of the library with new computers,” she said. “And we’ll get new computers for public use in the next two months.”
Dimmitt said he’d attended the science fair hosted by the library in the past year and was impressed.
“Rebecca and staff are very proactive in hosting events and presentations,” he said. “The library has held a class about composting. And I’d return for another science fair.”
Johnson said the successful Halloween event, “When The Lights Go Out,” isn’t just entertainment.
“Way Off Broadway comes and works with us, bringing book characters to life and I heard children talking with them and one another about what they’d read,” she said. “Getting kids to talk about reading is a great success.”