September 26th, 2011

We Mean Business!

IMG_9770Recently, the library was honored with a nomination for the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Non-Profit Partner in Business award for developing a productive partnership with the business community.  Some readers might not know about the library’s relationship with the local business community, so here are some highlights:

- The CCPL Small Business Information Center (SBIC) helps Cecil County entrepreneurs start or grow their small business.  The SBIC provides free one-on-one consultations with the Small Business Librarian, helping aspiring and current business owners to develop business concepts, financial strategies and marketing opportunities.  Over the last two years, the SBIC assisted over 2,000 people with small business information, providing the research necessary to start businesses and keep them afloat through these difficult economic times.

- CCPL offers lots of resources for job seekers, career changers, and business people.  We serve this community with everything from free access to computers to one-on-one assistance with job searches and resumes, not to mention the Resume Review service, computer classes, tons of small business information, and public access to Wifi.  Over the last two years, CCPL provided job consultation and services to over 3,000 Cecil Countians.

- CCPL also partnered with the business community and local schools to better serve students.  In addition to working with CCPS and the local business community to provide the annual Summer Reading program, CCPL developed an innovative outreach program called My Special Book. This program works to get books to children who live in lower income communities with limited access to transportation. With the help of PNC and BB&T Banks, CCPL is developing new ways to get books permanently into the hands and homes of Cecil County kids.

We’re very proud to serve Cecil County’s business community and are in excellent company; the following non-profit organizations were also nominated in this award category: Cecil County Arts Council, Cecil County Office of Economic Development, Cecilton Lions Club and Charities, the Chesapeake City Ecumenical Association, Susquehanna Workforce Network, Inc., and the YMCA.

The winner of the Non-Profit Partner in Business award will be announced this Friday, September 30th at the Chamber’s annual gala.  Congrats to all of the nominees!


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May 20th, 2011

Libraries: Creating a Better Future for Our County and Citizens

Denise READ PosterWhen I came to Cecil County to lead our public library system in 2001, the community was examining how best to lay a foundation for the success and well-being of our citizens, communities, and businesses in the 21st century.   One of the strongest messages was that our economic success would be based in large part on the quality of our county’s education system.   In the 21st century, businesses that offer good salaries and benefits would locate in counties where the workforce is educated and engaged in lifelong learning.  Those well-educated employees would demand the best of their county’s educational institutions for themselves and their families.  Although the recession set us back, it is not a reason to give up on our aspirations.

As we now emerge from recession, my hope is that we can reflect on the valuable insights of those discussions and, as part of our plan to facilitate strong economic and community advancement, protect funding for education.

One of the strengths of public libraries is how quickly they can adapt their educational services to any era to give our citizens and communities an edge.  Literally tens of thousands of Cecil County citizens are using Cecil County Public Library for exactly that reason today.  We have focused intently on job and career skills, teaching basic computer usage for the newly unemployed, and giving our small businesses a competitive advantage as they work to survive and grow.  And we have reinforced our outreach to our community’s children – introducing them to the powerful library services that underwrite success in school, work and life.  These are the kinds of services we mean when we say lifelong learning.

Cecil County Public Library now has 55,900 active users.  Library usage continues to grow.  I am very proud of how much value we provide to so many citizens with just 2.7% of the county budget.

Cecil County citizens care deeply about their public library.  In 2010, more than 1,000 of our citizens wrote to the County Commissioners telling them why their public library system is a lifeline for themselves, their families, and their communities, and many are writing once again.  Several Cecil County business owners have written the County Commissioners this year about how the library’s high quality business reference services were critical to their opening and growing small businesses in Cecil County.  One new business now has 15 employees!

We take the economic challenges of the recession very seriously.  Our library budget has been essentially flat for two years.  During that time, we have eliminated about 5% of our positions—a percentage comparable to other education agencies, renegotiated contracts, raised fines and fees, and eliminated an entire service, “This Way to Books.”   But we have preserved the quality of our library’s educational services, our book budget, and the hours of operation in every branch by working harder and smarter, as well as squeezing budget lines.

The proposed county budget would reduce public library funding by 4%.  We really hope to avoid that cut.  We ask that the County Commissioners restore half the reduction in library funding.  If the Commissioners can take that step, we can develop a Fiscal Year 2012 budget that preserves our book budget at the FY 2011 level.   I sincerely thank them for their efforts, and I pledge that the library will continue to make a difference, creating a better future for our county and its citizens.

Denise Davis is the director of the Cecil County Public Library system. Contact her at ddavis@ccplnet.org.


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