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Potsdam Public Library

Long Range Plan 2012-2017

Adopted August 8, 2012


  1. Executive Summary
2. Background History/Current Status
3. Demographics
4. SWOT Analysis
5. Strengths
6. Weaknesses
7. Opportunities
8. Threats
9. Mission Statement
10. Guiding Principles
11. Goals & Objectives


Executive Summary.

As indicated by the New York State Department of Education's standards, Potsdam Public Library created a long range plan. This is the second cycle of our plan since the referendum to become a School District Library was passed in 2006. The ad hoc committee was comprised of Pamela Yurgartis (chair), Sandra Steinberg, Dale Hobson and Library Director Patricia Musante.

The plan was conceived to meet the changing needs of patrons and the community as a whole. The committee's focus was on making this plan a vehicle to reach out to everyone in our service area, especially under-served populations, and to deliver essential information and educational services. The next five years will be a transitional period as patrons require more electronic services and resources.

In April 2012, a Patrons' Needs Assessment Survey was published in a local newspaper, North Country This Week, distributed in the library and available to complete digitally on the library's website. Committee members conducted research dealing with local demography, circulation, budget statistics and library services.

The Long Range Plan committee will meet periodically to evaluate and update the plan.

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Background History/Current Status.

The Potsdam Public Library has a long history of providing library services to the residents of Potsdam and surrounding communities. The Potsdam Public Library was first established in 1814 by a group of local citizens who organized the Washington Benevolent Society. Over time, the library has changed its name (Union Library Association and Potsdam Reading Room Association) and locations.

In January 1896, the first public tax levy to support the library was passed by the voters with a funding amount of $1,200 annually. In March of the same year, the New York State Regents granted the library its charter to serve an estimated population of 3,960.

In 1935, the Village of Potsdam deeded the former Universalist Church, located on the north side of the Civic Center complex, to the library. The library remained in this location until 1976 when it moved into expanded quarters in the south portion of the complex, formerly a civic auditorium. The Potsdam Museum relocated to the building vacated by the library.

Historically, funding for the library had come primarily from the Village of Potsdam, with the Towns of Potsdam, Stockholm, Parishville, and Pierrepont and St. Lawrence County making smaller contributions. In both 1992 and 1996, the voters of the Potsdam School District approved tax levies that augmented this funding. Concerned with inequities of the funding base versus the actual service population of the library, the board of trustees held a successful vote in 2006 to create a school district public library. The library is now funded primarily by a direct levy to residents of the Potsdam Central School district rather than the village and the four towns.

Since 2007, when the last Long Range Plan was approved by the board, the library has successfully enhanced services offered to patrons, experiencing a growth in circulation and an increase in the number of cardholders:


In 2007, total circulation was 117,258 items with attendance of 90,867. In the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, Potsdam was the second highest circulating library of the 65 libraries in the North Country Library System. In 2011, Potsdam became the highest circulating library in NCLS with a circulation of 139,037 and attendance of 127,730. The circulation for FY 2012 was 143,143 and attendance was 128,836. The majority of system libraries operate on a calendar fiscal year so comparisons are not able to be made at this time. In 2012, efforts are being made to quantify the number of transactions which are being made on remote computers and portable devices.


In 2005, the library began purchasing a subscription to Tumblepad, a web-based service that provides access to 200+ juvenile multimedia e-books. In 2006, the library subscribed to Tumblebooks, adding audio books for adults. In 2012 Tumblepad became the highest circulating library collection with 28,700 items. In May, 2011, the North Country Library System purchased a subscription to OverDrive with downloadable e-books and audiobooks; member libraries pay one penny per circulation per year. In May, 2012, PPL purchased a subscription from RecordedBooks, which has multi-access audio downloads for juvenile, young adult and adult books. In November, 2011, PPL purchased a subscription to Universal Class, 500 online courses with tutors, for itself and the 65 other member NCLS libraries with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act/Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant. All of these advances clearly show the need to count digital circulation.



The total number of cardholders slightly increased from 9,875 in 2007 to 10,182 in 2012. NCLS does a System-wide purge every five years when library cards registering no activity during that time are discarded from all records. Such a purge was done in January, 2012.



Library materials expenditures have increased. In 2007, the library spent $43,858 on materials and in 2012 spent $54,700.



In 2007, the library had 13 computers which included catalog search stations, staff work computers and public access computers. In 2012, the library has 47 computers, 25 of which provide Internet access for public use.



On May 29, 2008, the Potsdam Library and Village of Potsdam signed a 25 year Lease Agreement. The Library relinquished ownership of the building housing the Potsdam Museum in exchange for paying no rent in our current location. A utilities and service agreement was negotiated and a Capital Maintenance Fund established.



The Cleveland Foundation, formed by F.W. Cleveland, a late PPL trustee, awarded the library $95,000 and the Friends of the Library $25,000 to build a resource center. It was completed in September, 2010, just in time to set the stage for a large, unexpected grant.


  8 The Library Director and Youth Services Librarian actively pursued grants:


In May, 2010, the Library was awarded $244,513 as part of the ARRA/BTOP stimulus grant; it was one of the thirty libraries across New York State chosen to establish a Public Computer Center (PCC). Construction of the F. W. Cleveland Center, where the PCC offices were to be headquartered, began in June, 2010. The construction was finished in September. The PCC held its Grand Opening on January 12, 2011. One of the benefits to the whole community from this grant was the addition of video conferencing capabilities. In April, 2012, the Potsdam Public Library was chosen by the main grantee, New York State Library Cultural Education Specialist Mary Ann Stiefvater, to represent the PCC in New York State at the National Convention of the Institute of Museum and Library Services held in Arlington, Virginia.



New York State Construction Grants- In 2007, the library received $4,773 to install ceiling fans; (2008) $ 23,000 to install two handicapped accessible rest rooms near the future F.W. Cleveland Center; (2009) $3,500 was received from Assemblywoman Addie Russell for equipment for the Cleveland Center; (2009) $13,750 to replace the library roof. All grants required 50% matching funds.



PPL was instrumental in helping the Village of Potsdam get a $21,000 grant, 70% of the cost underwritten by National Grid. As a result, most of the Civic Center complex and the whole library received new energy efficient lights and ballasts in November, 2010.



Youth Service Grants-2008-2009, Opportunities Online Hardware Grant, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $18,200. The matching funds of $6,500 were paid by Northern New York Community Foundation. In 2010-2011, Science in the Library, $19,138; 2010, Story Walk, $300, Special Legislative Grant through NCLS; 2008-2022, St. Lawrence Youth Bureau, $11,747; 2008-2011, Summer Reading Grants, $450.



The library's supporting organization, Friends of the Potsdam Public Library, has been resourceful and very successful. They contributed $17,308 in 2007; $16,077 in 2008; $30,810 in 2009; $81,115 in 2010; and $19,108 in 2011. The Friends raise funds from its Used Bookstore, located in the basement near the Cleveland Center, and open Saturdays from 10:00 to 1:00. In addition to weekly sales, online sales take place through Amazon, and several larger sales are held throughout the year. Other sources of revenue include interest from the Robert B. Shaw endowment and a gift from the Cleveland Foundation.


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The library has a diverse service population. The largest local employers are Canton-Potsdam Hospital with 728 FTEs; State University of New York at Potsdam with 680 full time and 181 part time employees; and Clarkson University with 678 full time employees.

As might be expected in a college community with a local hospital, the Village (23%) and Town (18%) of Potsdam have a significantly higher number of people with graduate or professional degrees than the county average (9%). The majority of county residents (84%) have at least completed high school with 7% having less than a ninth grade education.

This divergence is also seen in age distribution. In the Village of Potsdam, the largest age distribution is in the 15-24 year age range at 70%. In the Town it's 48% with 20% of St. Lawrence County in the college attending age range. The next highest percentage, 10%, is in the 25-44 year age range. In the County, the highest age range is 35-54 at 27%.

In addition, the annual per capita income is actually lower in the Village ($11,919) than in the Town ($16,384) and County overall ($20,143).

The source of this data is American Community Survey from the 2010 U. S. Census.

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SWOT Analysis.



Strong Circulation
In 2007, total circulation was 116,515 items, a 24% increase from 2002. In FY 2012, total circulation was 143,143 items, a 23% increase from 2007. Potsdam now boasts the highest overall circulation of all sixty-five libraries in the North Country Library System, easily outperforming several better equipped libraries serving larger populations.

Expanding Patron Base
In the five year period ending in 2012, the total number of cardholders rose from 9,875 to 10,182 (after a recent purge). In addition to card holders and visitors to the library, online access has expanded and shows increasing activity.

Short Term Fiscal Stability
Following the 2006 referendum, the total size of the Library budget increased to $510,200, an increase of 45.9% over the previous year's austerity level. This level of funding was intended to allow the Library to recapture ground lost to the shrunken budgets and deferred purchasing of the recent past, and to allow for the accompanying growth in circulation projected post-referendum, without the need for another budget increase for several years. Due to the frugality of the Director and Clerk, the library has not needed to ask the tax payers for an increase.

Financial Control
The hiring of an independent financial auditor on an as-needed basis has allowed the Library to handle all of its financial duties in house.

Capable Staff
The library management and board of trustees are dedicated to enriching the staff's educational and professional development. Whenever possible, the library encourages staff to attend continuing education courses.

Grant Writing
To sustain and continually improve library services, outside funding sources are crucial to the health of the library. The grant writing skills of the library director and the youth services librarian have proven to be a valuable asset to the library. Their success has continued to augment public funds for library materials, services and equipment. In 2010, the library was awarded a federal ARRA grant allowing the establishment of a Public Computing Center and the hiring of a director for the center.

Community Center
The library resides in a historical sandstone building. The building is located in the center of the village within the municipal complex. This location makes it convenient for foot traffic from surrounding businesses and residences. Despite the fact that it is a crowded facility, it is a comfortable space for the community to gather, relax and peruse library material.

Public Computing Center
In 2010, the library was awarded a federal ARRA grant allowing the establishment of a Public Computing Center and the hiring of a PCC Director and a part time assistant. The PCC has served 2664 patrons through June 2012, teaching computer skills and helping them find employment. The PCC Director has done extensive outreach in the community with excellent promotion.

SUNY School of Education
Our library's service area includes the SUNY Potsdam School of Education. The college’s students have a need for a wide selection of juvenile materials, both fiction and non-fiction. Our library is better positioned to meet the needs of education students for such materials than the campus library. Our Youth Services librarian is a standard guest for EDUC 407/Literacy II and sometimes for GRED 615 (Family/School/Community Collaboration) and 640 (Literature Based Literacy Instruction).

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Cramped Space
The space in the current facility prohibits expansion. The library has little room for displays or additional collections. The public access computers are used extensively, often with users waiting. A large donation from the Frederick W. Cleveland Foundation, given in 2005, was used to build the Public Computing Center, including a multi-purpose room, director's office, and two tutoring rooms, in 2010. The addition of this space and its 18 computers was most welcomed but the materials space is still tight.

Staffing Shortage
After the successful referendum in 2006, library hours increased from fifty-two to sixty-five per week, yet staffing has not significantly increased. The library is now open seven days a week, year round. Attendance has increased from 79,161 to 127,648 in FY 2012 (which does not include rapidly increasing online usage). The FTE in 2006 was 7.5 and it is now 9.5. There are currently two professional librarians: the director and the youth services librarian. The library also employs three full-time clerks, a full-time computer technician, three part-time library aides and three part-time pages. The PCC has a full time director and one part-time assistant.

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Friends of the Library
The Friends of the Library continue to be a source of support for library funding and programs through a successful bookstore and on-line book auction. The store is only open three hours a week and nets an average of $160 per week. Online book sales average around $2800 per year.

The Digital Divide
The creation of the Cleveland Center has made it possible to expand digital literacy instruction in the form of classes and one-on-one tutoring. The video conferencing equipment offers opportunities to advance productivity and collaboration among business leaders in the community. Work-Study students from Clarkson along with skilled volunteers offer various classes in application software and valuable internet programs.

Outlying Populations
The library has long recognized the value our facilities represent for outlying populations for many years. Thanks to the expanded role mandated through the recent referendum, we are now in a fiscally and strategically superior position for providing resources to these users and for partnering with the Potsdam Central School District to provide additional services. At this time there is not enough staff to implement many outreach ideas but the library hopes to be able to expand services by soliciting volunteers. Part of the PCC Director's job is to co-ordinate these volunteer efforts.

Inter-municipal Cooperation
The PCC serves as a resource center for entrepreneurs while several classes, QuickBooks for example, have increased the financial efficiency of businesses. Further outreach to the business community and strengthening existing partnerships will fortify bonds while strengthening the core mission of the library.


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Inaccurate Data
Statistics from the North Country Library Service are not as accurate as they could be particularly for new media. This makes it difficult to analyze and evaluate new programs. Quantifying electronic library usage is needed.

Problematic Nature of ILL Service
Inter-Library Loan transactions have increased dramatically. As a result Potsdam's performance now rivals that of larger libraries (Watertown and Ogdensburg) that receive additional state funding for that purpose. As our library's performance continues to grow, NCLS's "one size fits all" model of Inter-Library Loan will result in diminishing returns on this obligation.

Philanthropy: Post Referendum
Owing to the community's sense of our library's new fiscal stability, post-referendum, rates of material adoption and charitable giving have dropped measurably. In FY 2006, our Gifts and Donations were 18,874 and in FY 2007, 5,286.

Growing Beyond Our Budget
Projections indicate that our Library's current levels of service increases are expected to remain constant over the 5 year life of this plan. Such demand for services, coupled with simple inflationary growth, will likely require an increase in revenue within that time. The employee benefit costs will also add to the need to increase revenue.

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Mission Statement.


The Potsdam Public Library occupies a central and traditional role in our community by providing the tools, resources and techniques for literacy development, language skill acquisition, lifelong learning, recreation, and research. Increasingly, the library has moved into new territory, becoming a leveling influence on the digital divide by providing access to high-speed communications and up-to-date technology for underserved areas, and for those who cannot afford home access to digital resources. As one of thirty Public Computing Centers in the New York State Library system, the library also serves as a distance learning and communications hub, providing digital literacy training, job skills training and videoconferencing services.


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Guiding Principles.

  The Potsdam Public Library pledges to act in accordance with these Guiding Principles:
  • Ensure accountability and make the most efficient and effective use of funds, both public and private.
  • Support intellectual freedom and the confidentiality of our patrons' use of the library.
  • Ensure equitable access to information by all our patrons.
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Goals & Objectives.

Goal 1: Address the increasing shift in usage of the library and its resources from in-person visitors to online visitors.

Rationale: While usage of library resources continues to increase substantially, online usage is not accurately recorded by the current attendance model.


  • Create a definition of an electronic patron, one whose primary means of interacting with the library and its resources is online, rather than in person

  • Develop statistical tools in the library website and other electronic resources that accurately measure online usage
  • Develop an outreach program to identify and meet the needs of this type of patron
  • Encourage NCLS to include training for library personnel to serve and measure the electronic audience better


Goal 2: Public Computer Center (PCC) Sustainability

Rationale: The PCC has been especially successful in increasing the digital literacy rate within nearly all segments of our community. Local residents are aware that the library will help them keep abreast of new technological advancements and skills.


  • Attempt to secure grants especially to deal with fragile populations
  • Retain the PCC Coordinator to recruit and schedule volunteers and to do publicity

  • Train/guide volunteers to continue digital literacy instruction

  • Create a hardware replacement schedule


Goal 3: Secure funding into the future

Rationale: While the library budget has stabilized since incorporation as a School District Library, operations are not sustainable without revenue increases.


  • Identify future funding needs, priorities and sources
  • Determine funding strategies
  • Plan for future referenda

  • Embark upon a capital campaign

  • Investigate the establishment of an endowment to ensure sustained financial support

  • Plan for funding to replace hardware


Goal 4: Renovate the main library

Rationale: The library looks the same as it did in 1976 when it was moved to this location and the fixtures are old and worn.


  • Embark upon a capital campaign to renovate the library without using taxpayers’ money
  • Attempt to use as many environmentally friendly materials and products as possible to create a healthy, welcoming environment and help educate the community

  • Recruit volunteers and/or negotiate with the Village of Potsdam to utilize its workers when possible


Goal 5: Outreach

Rationale: People in underserved areas of the community may not be able to or may not be comfortable with coming to the library.


  • Identify institutional outreach partners. Larger populations that are underserved include public housing complexes and the hospital
  • Find volunteers to perform outreach duties (Ensure they have the “personality” for outreach work)
  • Develop structured outreach programs for both person-to-person projects and on-line projects
  • Investigate more youth services programs

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Last Update - October 12, 2016
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