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
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.
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
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
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,
||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
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
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
The source of this data is American Community Survey
from the 2010 U. S. Census.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
||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.
Goals & Objectives.
Goal 1: Address the increasing shift in usage
of the library and its resources from in-person visitors to online
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
Goal 2: Public Computer Center
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
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
- 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