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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Looking back at 2012

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 13, 2013

January is the traditional time for me to look back at the year past and confirm what the library has accomplished, and look ahead at our plans for the New Year and beyond.


Planning for the future is done much earlier than January, but the implementation of those plans needs to be firmed up as the new budget year begins.


This is the first year that the library system has new rules approved by the Ohio legislature last summer as Senate Bill 321 allowing us to have the organizational meeting of the Board in December rather than January.


This change, as part of a number of provisions relating to library operations in Ohio, removes the time in January when the library system formerly had no structure under which to operate.


It had never caused a problem as such, but for librarians who want everything structured and organized, it is a welcome adjustment in the Ohio Revised Code.


But, in looking backward to 2012, it was a busy year all around the library system.


Yes, people still come to the library for books, and still check out physical things such as books, DVDs, and CDs.  On a typical weekday when the delivery service arrives, over 500 items are delivered to our libraries that had been requested from the online system.


This is in addition to books on our own shelves that are checked out, information and items found online both in the library and at home connected to the library’s system, and whatever the library staff locates.


Our libraries are also busy because of what I professionally call “stuff we do,” such as providing Public Notary service, copiers, scanners, and faxing just to name a few things.


We are the last public service desk in our communities providing real human beings at those desks, and often we are advisors to people regarding information requests, or just plain “questions.”


During 2012, we worked on our collections, replacing and enhancing them with new books, DVDs, and CDs; something that we had been lacking before the passage of the Library Levy in 2010.


The busier the library, the more worn our materials become.  Each book order contains items that are simply being replaced from wear and tear.  We restore DVDs and CDs, but eventually usage takes its toll and they, too, have to be replaced.


eBooks are a different story.  They don’t suffer from physical issues, but contractual agreements with publishers can cause them to need replacement as well.  Some publishers deactivate eBooks once 26 people have used them, and others simply won’t sell them to libraries.


In 2012, we purchased about 5,000 new eBooks for the cooperative database that all of the libraries in our system use to serve the public.


At this point, the demand for eBooks far exceeds what we can provide, but it is improving based on the number of requests in the eBook system.


Our library system continues to grow with the number of library cards issued to the public.  We have grown to over 34,000 active accounts, or about half of the county.  The cards from neighboring Ohio libraries can be used in our system as well so people who work in one area but live in another area often use the libraries interchangeably.


The big project for 2012 was the upgrade of the shared computer system in June.  While not the smoothest computer transition I have seen, it was essential as we move into the era of Broadband communication and smart phone and iPad information technology.


In 2012, we replaced the roofs of the Schiappa and Toronto buildings, and replaced the front overhang on the Tiltonsville building.  All were past the 20 year mark, and were leaking.


All parking areas received attention, with the Adena and Toronto lots to receive new pavement in 2013.


I am excited that we expanded hours at the Tiltonsville Branch late in the 2012 year.  It is nice to see usage increase to the point that the hours needed to be expanded.


Of course, the library is already open 24/7 from the standpoint of our online catalog of materials, and research databases offered to the public.


And ever wonder why people are sitting in their cars outside of our libraries with their laptops and iPads aimed at the library to pickup our wireless signal?