Integrating public libraries and council customer service centres: the South Taranaki library plus experience.
Integrating public libraries and service council centres can be contentious. When a council has a main office, seven libraries and four service centres serving a population of only 28,000 people in a large area it also has major service and cost implications. Discussed are the concept, implementation and progress of Customer First at South Taranaki District South Taranaki is a political district on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island that contains the towns of Hawera, Manaia, Opunake, Patea, Eltham, and Waverley.
South Taranaki District Council website
• Council in the North Island of New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. and the effect it has had on its public library service since 2002. Customer First was a project to improve South Taranaki District Council's customer service and the Library Plus initiative was one of three major parts of the program. It has proven to be effective in delivering library and other council services and has increased the profile and reputation of the library service
The South Taranaki District in the North Island of New Zealand covers a large area, which spreads from Okato This article is about a township in New Zealand. For the Russian classification document, see OKATO.
Okato is a small township in rural Taranaki, New Zealand, and has a population of about 520 people. It is situated about 25 minutes around the coast from New Plymouth. in the north to Waitotara in the south. It comprises six recognised towns, a number of villages and is relatively sparsely sparse
adj. spars·er, spars·est
Occurring, growing, or settled at widely spaced intervals; not thick or dense.
[Latin sparsus, past participle of spargere, to scatter. populated pop·u·late
tr.v. pop·u·lat·ed, pop·u·lat·ing, pop·u·lates
1. To supply with inhabitants, as by colonization; people.
2. , with 28,000 people. Libraries are maintained in the towns of Hawera With a population of 11,000, Hawera is the second-largest town in the Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island. It is near the coast of the South Taranaki Bight, 75 kilometres south of New Plymouth on State Highway 3, or around the coast on SH 45, known as Surf Highway 45 for , Eltham, Opunake, Manaia, Patea, Waverley and the village of Kaponga.
In February 2002 the South Taranaki District Council (STDC STDC South Texas Development Council
STDC Strategic Tactics Development Center
STDC Stay Top Dead Center ) launched a multifaceted mul·ti·fac·et·ed
Having many facets or aspects. See Synonyms at versatile.
Adj. 1. multifaceted - having many aspects; "a many-sided subject"; "a multifaceted undertaking"; "multifarious interests"; "the multifarious project under the brand of Customer First. There were three main initiatives required to meet the needs of the new legislative environment and cement cement, binding material used in construction and engineering, often called hydraulic cement, typically made by heating a mixture of limestone and clay until it almost fuses and then grinding it to a fine powder. the relationship between the legislation, council officers, elected members and most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially the people of the South Taranaki District. The need was seen to deliver the most efficient customer service for the available funding.
The three main objectives were to
1 Refocus Verb 1. refocus - focus once again; The physicist refocused the light beam"
focus - cause to converge on or toward a central point; "Focus the light on this image"
2. the four service centres. This was designed to reduce duplication duplication /du·pli·ca·tion/ (doo-pli-ka´shun)
1. the act or process of doubling, or the state of being doubled.
2. , effort and confusion and increase standardisation Noun 1. standardisation - the condition in which a standard has been successfully established; "standardization of nuts and bolts had saved industry millions of dollars"
standardization of basic administrative functions.
2 Improve customer services across the board. It was important to ensure all frontline front·line also front line
1. A front or boundary, especially one between military, political, or ideological positions.
2. Basketball See frontcourt.
3. Football The linemen of a team. facilities actually met the customer service charter and that accolades came from the customers, rather than the organisation.
3 Increase capability in the new community development unit, from three to six staff.
1 Refocus service centres--Library Plus The first initiative was to combine the service centres and libraries in the towns of Eltham, Opunake and Patea as these facilities were in separate buildings in the three towns. This meant two trips for customers wishing to make an enquiry or pay a bill and then having to go to, in some cases, the other end of town to use the library.
Manaia was operating out of one building but the council and library services were not combined. Kaponga and Waverley were already operating under a combined agency model. The Hawera Council office was the administrative centre Administrative Centre (in Norwegian administrativt senter; in Portuguese centro administrativo) is often used in several countries to refer to a county town, or other seat of regional/local government, or the place where the central administration of a commune is of STDC and the Hawera library had recently been upgraded and operated as the main district library.
This initiative meant a cost saving in staffing and building operations while enhancing the levels of service at all Library Plus outlets. Library Plus now offers a comprehensive one stop service for all council services. All staff in every facility are multiskilled and able to do these tasks in a diligent dil·i·gent
Marked by persevering, painstaking effort. See Synonyms at busy.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin d and welcoming way.
2 Improve customer service--contact centre
The creation of a single council contact centre was a key element in the effort to raise customer service responses. The previous system did not manage complaints well. Often there was no record of a complaint and the complainant A plaintiff; a person who commences a civil lawsuit against another, known as the defendant, in order to remedy an alleged wrong. An individual who files a written accusation with the police charging a suspect with the commission of a crime and providing facts to support the allegation certainly had no idea of what was happening regarding their complaint. Nor was there any uniformity of process, or reporting of, complaint management.
The new centralised Adj. 1. centralised - drawn toward a center or brought under the control of a central authority; "centralized control of emergency relief efforts"; "centralized government"
centralized system uses a toll free 0800 number making access free to all and means that the complaint is recorded and goes straight to the person who can action a response. The major function of the contact centre is the management of the customer request management system.
Customers can also make a request or complaint in any of the Library Plus outlets across the district, and they are all managed on the same system. This, with a robust followup facility, means that STDC now guarantees a followup call to every complainant and will take further action if it is warranted, and if the customer is not satisfied with the outcome.
3 Enhance community development resources
The third initiative was to develop a model of community development, which would see council community development officers facilitate individuals and groups to take the lead in developing the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of their local towns in a planned and sustainable way. The savings made by the amalgamation amalgamation /amal·ga·ma·tion/ (ah-mal´gah-ma´shun) trituration (3).
amalgamation ( of the libraries and the service centres was to enable extra community development officer positions to cover widely spread and diverse towns and villages.
Library Plus--the implementation
As a strategic way forward, the Customer First proposal to amalgamate the service centres and libraries cemented the library in each community. There would be an additional fulltime staff member per library to help manage the extra work involved. The administration areas of the service centres would be consolidated in the main office in Hawera.
The librarian (1) A person who works in the data library and keeps track of the tapes and disks that are stored and logged out for use. Also known as a "file librarian" or "media librarian." See data library.
(2) See CA-Librarian. of each facility would be the manager of the facility and of all staff. In other situations where service centres and libraries were working from the same building or as a combined service, the librarian often had no responsibility for the service centre functions. This creates division amongst staff and also conflict and poor service because staff are not able to deal with across the board enquiries. Therefore, all staff were to be trained to multitask in both library and council services. It was decided that, where possible, staff in each facility would train each other.
Services to be moved to the libraries included rates, dogs, cemeteries This is a list of famous cemeteries, mausoleums and other places people are buried, world-wide. It may never be fully completed or, depending on its its nature, it may be that it can never be completed. However, new and revised entries in the list are always welcome. and swimming pool administration. Property files were probably going to Hawera. The administration tasks such as minute taking, word processing word processing, use of a computer program or a dedicated hardware and software package to write, edit, format, and print a document. Text is most commonly entered using a keyboard similar to a typewriter's, although handwritten input (see pen-based computer) and and phone calls would also be based in the Hawera office.
The launch of Customer First
Customer First was launched to all council staff in February 2002. An outline of the reasons and background of the project was given. Organisational and staff changes were announced, and the staff were given two weeks to forward submissions on the project to the executive management team. The project timeline
Timeline may refer to:
Although rumours had abounded prior to this meeting the reality was hard for many staff because of redundancies and major changes in job descriptions. There was shock, disbelief Disbelief
See also Skepticism.
Trojan who mistrusted Trojan Horse; cautioned against bringing it into the city. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 50]
no one gave credence to her accurate prophecies of doom. [Gk. Myth. and library staff were upset and concerned about their own changes and also those of their colleagues in the council. The staff at the service centres were very reluctant to move into the libraries.
The district librarian and the group manager for community services and development visited each library facility to discuss the project and explain the Library Plus decisions to the staff. The staff from the two libraries already working as agencies reassured re·as·sure
tr.v. re·as·sured, re·as·sur·ing, re·as·sures
1. To restore confidence to.
2. To assure again.
3. To reinsure. other staff that it was not as difficult as they thought. It just added information of a different type.
The New Plymouth New Plymouth, city (1996 pop. 48,871), West Coast North Island, New Zealand, on the Tasman Sea. It is a port and a major center for dairying. Other industries include natural gas processing and metal working. District Council already had a similar approach in place at Waitara and the district librarian arranged with Jane Waite (Waitara librarian) to take the librarians This is a list of people who have practised as a librarian and are well-known, either for their contributions to the library profession or primarily in some other field. to Waitara to see how the concept worked and talk with Jane and her staff. The visits to Waitara library and service centre emphasised the benefits of one desk and multiskilling
The brand name Library Plus was chosen to signify sig·ni·fy
v. sig·ni·fied, sig·ni·fy·ing, sig·ni·fies
1. To denote; mean.
2. To make known, as with a sign or word: signify one's intent. that while they were still libraries, they now were able to provide council facilities such as payment for rates and dogs licences, building complaints and in six of the libraries, providing tourist information tourist information - Information in an on-line display that is not immediately useful, but contributes to a viewer's gestalt of what's going on with the software or hardware behind it. as well.
A crash course in project management
Each library assimilating as·sim·i·late
v. as·sim·i·lat·ed, as·sim·i·lat·ing, as·sim·i·lates
a. To consume and incorporate (nutrients) into the body after digestion.
b. the council services required its workspace to be renovated to allow for the service centre staff person.
Timing of the project was very tight and the work was to be completed by June, which allowed three months to complete it. The work was contracted out and staff managed to continue to provide service right through all the muddle Muddle - Original name of MDL. and noise of building renovations.
Managing three concurrent building projects in such a timeframe was difficult. Add working with an architect, builders and the council property maintenance officer on three different sites to the equation, and it was a major learning curve for the district librarian and the library staff. Many decisions had to be made on the spot and quickly. Due to this, and the speed of the work, some things were missed or done differently to how staff thought things were going to happen.
The deadline was met and Egmont library, Eltham library, Kaponga, Waverley, Patea and Manaia all became Library Plus facilities on 1 June 2002.
Although four service centre staff were to move into the libraries to increase staff numbers, the results were quite different. There were resignations from council staff and library staff. These staff did not wish to work in the changed workplace. While it was disappointing to lose their wealth of knowledge, it gave the library service the chance to implement changes.
A new role was created for a district cataloguing and acquisitions librarian. New Library Plus staff were employed who had fresh ideas and an enthusiasm to work in the Library Plus roles. Also, because the Library Plus facilities were to open longer hours, more part time staff were required to cover the public hours. Nine new staff joined Library Plus in total.
Job descriptions also evolved as the year passed. Multiskilling in all of the tasks enabled a generic Library Plus job description to be put in place for the librarians and the Library Plus staff. As well, salaries rose after job evaluations Job evaluation is the process of systematically determining a relative value of jobs in an organisation. In all cases the idea is to evaluate the job, not the person doing it.
Job Ranking is the most simple form. were completed.
Training started with library staff going to the service centre staff to be given council training while the renovations were being undertaken in their buildings. The council staff were trained in the library when they were moved there. The cross-training cross-training Multiskilling Sports medicine 1. The regular participation in multiple sports–eg, basketball and long-distance running 2. The exercising of muscle groups or participation in a sport differing from than an athlete's primary sport. See Training. by staff worked better on some sites than it did on others and results were uneven. While some staff were very willing to share all their knowledge, there were others who felt threatened and were therefore reluctant to share or to take on new tasks.
South Taranaki District Council had put a people development program in place in the year prior to Customer First. This included a series of workshops for all staff aimed at improving skills in communication, change management, conflict resolution and negotiation. This program had given staff the tools to express their fears of change and deal with the new expectations required of them. It was also strongly based on customer service, both internally and externally. The program definitely helped staff to cope with the changes that Customer First brought.
Issues that arose
Lack of procedures/documentation
The management styles at the old service centres had differed in each area. Many routines had not been documented. This created problems due to the ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode. arrangements some of the managers had with community groups, which had often not been written down.
Four libraries had swimming pools to manage, which was unexpected. Eltham had three pools in its area to oversee. The customer services librarians found themselves dealing with occupational safety and health rules and regulations for swimming pools, and also new water testing Water Testing
Water testing is used around the world on various waterways to improve the quality of the water and test how well the water is already. It is vital for many people around the water-ways and for drinking water. regulations.
Out of date records
The cemetery cemetery, name used by early Christians to designate a place for burying the dead. First applied in Christian burials in the Roman catacombs, the word cemetery came into general usage in the 15th cent. records were found to be very out of date and required inputting to a computerised data file. This proved to be very time consuming for Library Plus staff but has now provided a much more accurate resource, which is also available on the council's website www.stdc.co.nz
Property files remained at the service centres and this required staff at Egmont and Eltham to leave their buildings to retrieve the files when requested.
The 0800 telephone number
The introduction of an 0800 number which would be answered by the contact centre in the Hawera office was the most controversial topic for the librarians, who felt very strongly that they were losing personal contact with library users.
There were valid reasons for the change, such as complaints being made to service centres and not going through the right channels. There was no tracking of when, and if, work was carried out. All calls through the contact centre would now be entered on the new customer service response software program. Callers wanting their local library would be put straight through to the library.
Procedures and documentation
Library Plus staff now all work to the same procedures and documentation. There are clear guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. for community groups and staff to follow.
The pools manager consulted with Library Plus staff and held a meeting at the end of summer for Library Plus staff and the pool staff. Many concerns were discussed and this resulted in a new management system being implemented for summer 2003/04.
Out of date records
Data loading Copying data from one electronic file or database into another. Data loading implies converting from one format into another; for example, from one type of production database into a decision support database from a different vendor. See data entry. of the cemetery records is almost complete. This is now a valuable resource which is used by many people to look up their ancestors Ancestors
See also father; heredity; mother; origins; parents; race.
an inclination toward old-fashioned things, speech, or actions, especially those of one’s ancestors. Also archaicism. — archaist, n. via the council website.
Property files at Eltham have been an issue as the files have been in great demand and staff time away from the library to retrieve the files has been a problem. The Eltham Community Board has now asked that council look at extending the Eltham Library Plus building to accommodate files and make more room for library activities. At Opunake the files are still at the service centre, a five minute walk from the Egmont Library Plus.
The 0800 telephone number
The staff have become used to this. They are still not happy but users in the main are.
A five year update
South Taranaki Library Plus has enthusiastic, confident, multiskilled staff. The opening hours opening hours open npl → heures fpl d'ouverture
opening hours open npl → Öffnungszeiten pl have been extended at every library and there has been increased foot traffic through the doors. Library Plus has a higher profile in the community simply through the provision of all the services, which has brought some ratepayers into their libraries for the first time.
Library Plus staff have each spent at least one day training at the contact centre. Each contact centre staff member has worked at one of the Library Plus facilities. This has given everyone a much better appreciation of the work each group undertakes.
South Taranaki Council's customer surveys prove that a better service is being provided, with a 95 per cent customer satisfaction in the 2006 survey. The customer service request system has improved the response to all requests and complaints and has now achieved a 100 per cent rate of answering requests within the given time target.
Five years on and the swimming pools are no longer a responsibility for Library Plus staff. The properties and facilities group of the council has been managing this area for the past two years.
Five years has seen the cemetery records updated and clarified and many of the procedures have been streamlined and updated onto a new computer program. These duties are still carried out by the Library Plus staff who have learnt many new skills when dealing with bereaved be·reaved
Suffering the loss of a loved one: the bereaved family.
One or those bereaved: The bereaved has entered the church. customers, funeral directors and cemetery contractors, genealogists and family historians Family Historian is a popular genealogy software program designed by a British designer for the British market which is increasingly attracting an international reputation. The software is currently only available in a Windows version. .
In July 2004 a 45 square metre Noun 1. square metre - a centare is 1/100th of an are
centare, square meter
area unit, square measure - a system of units used to measure areas extension to the Eltham Library Plus was opened. The extension provided a file room specifically for the property files as well as a sunny reading and reference area for the public.
In 2006 the Opunake Library Plus manager and staff reorganised Adj. 1. reorganised - organized again; "a reorganized business"
organized - formed into a structured or coherent whole a storage area on a mezzanine floor Noun 1. mezzanine floor - intermediate floor just above the ground floor
storey, floor, story, level - a structure consisting of a room or set of rooms at a single position along a vertical scale; "what level is the office on?" , added shelving shelv·ing
1. Shelves considered as a group.
2. Material for shelves.
3. An incline; a slope.
1. material for shelves
2. and moved all the property files into the Opunake Library Plus building. This move has produced a more efficient retrieval system for both staff and customers.
Library Plus staff comments
Here are some comments, both positive and negative, from staff involved with the project. They reflect how the staff felt at the time as well as five years later.
Prior to the changes taking place, management circulated the book Who moved my cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It helped put into perspective what is important, what is not, and how to move on. Who moved my cheese should be read by anyone affected by change. At first I really did feel that my library skills were being diminished and that council work was taking over. A year later, I have to say that things are better. I am comfortable with my position now and can concentrate on all the new projects for the library as well as service centre duties. In terms of librarians worrying about losing their skills, I think working under Customer First expands our knowledge base and gives us the opportunity to introduce a wider range of people to the library environment. Library work in some instance gets pushed aside for the council service priorities. Tidying and cleaning shelves often gets left ... until it just has to be done. We felt we were dumped into the multiskilling scenario and some must have felt that they were swimming against the tide for quite a while. So on the training side initially I think it could have been better. I think the people who made the decision to integrate the services didn't understand the large effect it would have on staff. Combining services has benefited the public, improved the way council handles frontline encounters and provided a 'softer face' for STDC Council has sometimes let the Library Plus down --with poor communication for instance--but in many ways we have encouraged improvements by expecting to provide a higher level of service than they'd been used to from the service centres. The complexity and diversity of council work continues to increase. Each rating year sees changes to forms and procedures. Most staff benefit from the additional tasks--the day is more varied, as are the people we deal with, making it more interesting. It also broadens our skills if we want to get into the job market. The council service issues that arise can be very time consuming, often unexpected and varied and by nature assume priority for example today a dog had fallen down a cliff, rates issues, no hand towels in public toilets, pensioner housing enquiries, property files etc and so on... Having council services available in the Library Plus means more people have been exposed to the library, increasing the breadth of people potentially using our library services. Our library skills have not suffered. I think staff can choose to remain passionate library specialists. However, I do think that is far easier for Hawera staff to see themselves as library 'experts', especially in terms of tackling major one off projects.
Note Hawera Library Plus, because it is next to the council office, does not cover the full range of council services.
On the positive side the work is varied, stimulating, busy, convivial, friendly, fun and community conscious in a holistic sense ... We get to know our community and can be supportive on many different levels to many people. The concept of Customer First could be considered to represent a dumbing down of public libraries. It is not.
After five years the Library Plus concept is well embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. in the community and public acceptance has been wholehearted whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole . The biggest issues faced are often communication issues between other council departments and the frontline Library Plus staff. For example, a recent major change in rubbish collection initiated by the engineering department created a large customer response with phone calls to the contact centre and visits to the libraries.
There has been a number of staff changes but this is normal for the time period involved. Job descriptions have been refined, and two of the smallest branches are now managed by their nearest larger library. This has enabled a more effective use of staff as those in the small libraries now work in the bigger libraries on a regular basis and thus gain more skills.
The contact centre works well in conjunction with Library Plus and there have been no issues with the telephones or the 0800 number. Cross-skill training between the contact centre and the Library Plus staff continues, and a pool of casual staff able to work in either environment is now available. The community development officers work closely with the Library Plus managers and staff in each community and this keeps everyone up to date with what is happening in each area.
The library focused activities have continued to grow, with several new initiatives being developed and children's programs expanded to each library site. The South Taranaki District Library is well regarded by its peers in New Zealand and is looked to as an example of what a rural library service can achieve through putting the community--and the customer-first.
Editor's note Editor's Note (foaled in 1993 in Kentucky) is an American thoroughbred Stallion racehorse. He was sired by 1992 U.S. Champion 2 YO Colt Forty Niner, who in turn was a son of Champion sire Mr. Prospector and out of the mare, Beware Of The Cat.
Trained by D. There has been very little published worldwide about the advantages and disadvantages of combined public library/council customer services centres. Any items--short or long--about your experience would be welcome, to email@example.com
Lynne Walker District Librarian South Taranaki District Council New Zealand Received January 2007
Lynne Walker is the district librarian for the South Taranaki District Council. She has worked in public libraries for 20 years. After 14 years at South Waikato District The Waikato District is the municipality in the northern Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is administered by the Waikato District Council, whose headquarters are in Ngaruawahia. Council, which included a year's library exchange in 1994 to Watford England, Lynne rose from Putaruru branch librarian to become the district library manager. She moved to South Taranaki in 2001. Lynne encourages innovation and considers good service is essential in public libraries. Address: South Taranaki District Council Private Bag 902 Hawera New Zealand tel +64 0800 111 323 fax +64 6 278 9407 firstname.lastname@example.org