Library systems in Arrowhead Region to mergeStructural reorganization is the name of the game at libraries here in Lake County as a merger between the Arrowhead Library System and the North Country Library Cooperative will go into effect July 1.
Structural reorganization is the name of the game at libraries here in Lake County as a merger between the Arrowhead Library System and the North Country Library Cooperative will go into effect July 1.
The ALS is a regional public system that links and supports 29 public libraries in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. It originally provided services such as reciprocal borrowing, library consultant service, interlibrary loan and centralized registration of borrowers. It then expanded to offer delivery van service, online newspaper and magazine databases, and a regional online catalog.
In contrast, the NCLC builds cooperation between academic libraries, public libraries, K-12 school libraries, and special libraries like law libraries. The ALS plans to continue providing the services the NCLC currently provides like workshops. Once the merger is complete, the entire system will use the ALS name.
ALS Executive Director Jim Weikum says patrons of the Two Harbors Public Library or the Silver Bay Public Library might not even notice a difference. Both libraries are part of the Arrowhead Library System while the libraries at the Two Harbors High School, William Kelley High School, Minnehaha Elementary, and William Kelley Elementary are represented by both the NCLC and linked to the ALS. Media and Technology Coordinator for Lake Superior School District Kristen Lee says students will probably not see any noticeable changes.
Two Harbors Public Library Director Michelle Monson imagines the merger will be a good thing. “You probably won’t see very much difference [at the Two Harbors Public Library],” she said.
The NCLC proposed the merger after it became part of a plan that the NCLC voted to undergo after going through strategic planning last spring and the ALS agreed to it. The boards of the NCLC and the ALS will merge into one board with 13 members. A representative each from Lake, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, and Lake of the Woods counties along with three representatives from St. Louis County and one staff representative from the academic, K-12, public, and special libraries will form the new board and start July 1.
“Since it [NCLC] was such a small agency, merging it with a more well-known agency would help make its services more visible to people,” said President of the NCLC Board Lenore Johnson.
“As a staff we would not be moving this forward if this wasn’t in the best interest of the people we serve,” said Weikum. He said the libraries in the ALS have been supportive of the changes.
Weikum said the economic downturn was not a driving factor in the decision to merge. “But it is a reality that our resources aren’t growing,” he added.
After the merger is in effect, the ALS will go through a six month transition process and go through more strategic planning to determine more about its future.
The two full-time employees of the NCLC have taken early retirement packages and will retire in late June of this year.