PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
April marks the second year that the library system has received funds from the one mill Library Levy, which was approved by county voters in Nov. 2010.
The approval of this levy has allowed the library system to return to operations as they existed before the 31 percent cut was made to the Public Library Fund as part of the state budget process.
As Director of the library system, I would again say “thanks” to everyone who felt it was important to invest in our county’s public libraries.
Every day, I look at the white and blue sign that graces my office from the levy campaign that says, “Save Our Libraries,” and remember that we have moved into a new era of library operations.
Last year, we restored staffing and hours with the approval of the Library Levy.
In 2011, we also made major improvements to our computer systems and the public computers that are used daily by our library customers.
With the Bill and Melinda Gates Grant, and the Williams Grant, we were able to replace many of the public computers in our libraries, and establish laptop labs around the county.
Another major change in our libraries included the replacement of our printing systems in every location with networked printing through the use of new color and black & white copiers that print from the computer system, and also allow scanning and faxing from one machine.
Our Local History Dept. replaced our microfilm reader/printers with a new generation of equipment that allows microfilm to be scanned and sent directly to users, or printed into the system.
The Bookmobile Services returned to operation with a new vehicle, replacing the previous model that “died” a week before the 2010 election. The new Bookmobile services small communities, preschools, and senior housing units with a new “cart system.”
Our library collections have benefited from the Library Levy with new books, DVDs, and CDs adorning the shelves. Special attention has been given to replacement of outdated materials.
Planning in 2011 is leading to the replacement of the roofs on our Schiappa Branch, Toronto Branch, and Tiltonsville Branch buildings.
A full review of all seven buildings in 2011 will lead to a number of maintenance projects in 2012 to keep our libraries in good condition for public use.
2012 will bring more computer changes to our library system.
Later this year, our Ethernet circuit connections to all of our library buildings will be upgraded to Horizon Telecom as part of the ARRA monies that are bringing Broadband Internet to Southeastern Ohio.
The Internet speed at all of our locations will increase three-fold as we need greater capability to accommodate downloads for the public.
On June 6, our library system will upgrade to Symphony Library Information Services as part of our automation network.
The new SIRSIDynix system will be the 5th upgrade of the system since we started online in 1988, and the new system will accommodate more customer services and the use of smartphones with the library network.
It boggles my mind when I look at the changes in library services over my career, and the benefits to the public who use public library services.
With all of this technology around us, I am still fascinated by a small child sitting in a rocking chair in one of our libraries, listening to a book being read to them.
Other children are downloading an ebook from the library database into their Kindle, and probably showing their parents how to do it!
Still others are using one of our databases to search for information, while yet another checks out a paperbound book.
Your library card continues to be your doorway to the information world at your public library.