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Library system on pace for solid year

The Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System is on pace to improve on last year’s results in terms of circulation and patron usage, despite declines in those categories for the month of May compared to 2012, Director Joe Zappacosta reported to trustees on Tuesday.

May statistics showed a decline in circulation from last year, down to 3,315 in Halifax from 3,748 in May 2012, an 11.5 percent decline.

Circulation numbers in South Boston also declined in May compared to last year, from 5,914 in 2012 to 5,312 in May 2013, a 10 percent decline.

Patron visits for Halifax were down from 3,094 in May 2012 to 2,970 in May 2013, and they also were down for South Boston, from 7,170 in 2012 to 6,559 in 2013.

Zappacosta pointed out figures from June, the last month of the fiscal year and one of the busiest, are not yet available.

“Also, the yearly comparison does not include the current fiscal year,” Zappacosta said on Thursday.

“Our circulation numbers, which includes all items physical or electronic that are ‘checked out’ from the library collection as of May for fiscal year 2013 is around 117,000.”

“Patron visits for the current year-to-date as of the end of May is at 113,000.”

 “We’re actually way up.  We’re up compared to last year,” said Zappacosta on Thursday. 

“It’s one of our busiest months, and compared to last year we have a higher number of circulations even without June.

“This year should be one of our busiest years since I’ve been here,” said Zappacosta, who came on board as director in April 2011.

“Overall, we’re outpacing last year, because we already have as much as we did last year without the month of June.”

Zappacosta also reported a server known as Tutor.com has been replaced with a state-sponsored server, saving the library system $3,000.

That money would be used toward collections, he told trustees.

Trustees also discussed updates to the system’s staff manual at Tuesday’s meeting, including grievance procedures and the role of the library board in hiring and dismissal of employees.

Employees work “at the will of the state,” and an employee of the library may terminate employment at any time for any legal reason,” Zappacosta said.

In another staff policy manual discussion, Zappacosta referred to Section 215 of the Patriot Act stating employees disclosing confidential information are subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment and possible legal action.

Items such as patron information, including borrowing habits of patrons and home addresses, can be deemed confidential, with the library director or business manager the only authorized personnel who can provide information required for things such as credit reports, Zappacosta told trustees.

Other staff manual items discussed at Tuesday’s meeting included vacation time, worker’s compensation, health insurance and travel expenses.

Trustees are expected to consider adoption of the library system’s budget for 2013-14 at its next regularly scheduled meeting set for July 9 at 4:30 p.m. at Halifax Library. 

The budget is still a work in progress, according to Zappacosta.