Since the late 1990s, the last section of the public library annual report has been the Statement Concerning Public Library System Effectiveness added by this 1997 Wisconsin Act 150 revision to Chapter 43:
43.58 Powers and duties.
(6)(c) The report to the division shall contain a statement by the library board indicating whether the public library system in which the library participated during the year of the report did or did not provide effective leadership and adequately meet the needs of the library and an explanation of why the library board believes so.
This is every library's opportunity to contribute to an assessment of system services. As a statutory requirement of being a public library established in Wisconsin, the statement is also a mandatory part of the annual report.
43.05 General duties of the division. The division shall:
(14)(b) Conduct a review of a public library system if at least 30% of the libraries in participating municipalities that include at least 30% of the population of all participating municipalities state in the report under s. 43.58 (6) (c) that the public library system did not adequately meet the needs of the library. If the division determines that the public library system did not adequately meet the needs of libraries participating in the system, it shall prepare an advisory plan suggesting how the public library system can so do in the future, including suggestions designed to foster intrasystem communications and local dispute resolution. The advisory plan shall be distributed to the public library system board, the boards of all libraries participating in the system and the county boards of all counties participating in the system.
By requiring that two thresholds must be met before the DLT can be involved, this language ensures that a DLT system review is not the result of isolated incidents.
So, for example, consider a theoretical Wisconsin public library system that has 25 member libraries, and those member libraries were established by municipalities that have a total resident population of 190,258. Before the Division can conduct a review of this fictitious system, at least eight libraries would have to report that the system did not provide effective leadership etc. (25 libraries * .3 = 7.5) and the total resident population of the municipalities that formed those eight libraries would have to total at least 57,078 people (190,258 * .3 = 57,077.4).
While the DLT cannot take action until both conditions are met, we do monitor the effectiveness statements filed with us. In the event that sufficient "not effective" statements are received, we have a better understanding of the circumstances involved if library boards have submitted thoughtful explanations of their position when either "did" or "did not" provide effective service is marked on the form.
Written by Jamie McCanless, Public Library Development Team