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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.

Staff Workshops

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 22, 2014

Staff Training Workshops are being held in the library system this month to update staff on new services and collections available to the public.

I just passed my 31st anniversary with the library system, and some staff have been through 25 years of training, and as many years of my annual speeches.

These are critical for the front-line staff that needs to know all of the services that our library system offers, and part of the training is an exercise to outline all of the services offered to the public.

The easy one to name is “checkout books to the public,” and beyond that obvious one the list continues to things that we sometimes forget to new things brought on by technology.

In addition to the traditional paperbound book, our collection has books on CD and DVDs.  Those audio-visual formats change over the years as new media are introduced.

eBooks have quickly become a new format in the collection.  For librarians, they are an odd-ball format that sort of float in outer space, available to download and read, and they return themselves to the library with no overdue fine.

That new plumb-crazy library book is part of a collection of over 162,000 titles of eBooks available to the public.  The collection is growing rapidly as libraries purchase new titles for the Ohio Digital Library.

Additional information is available on the library’s website at in the form of online databases available to library users.  The range of offerings is enormous, from auto repair manuals and guides to academic journals and magazines with full-text versions.  Newspapers backfiled into the 19th century and genealogy publications are available to join the latest medical information just published.

Computer services are a major part of our library system from the 135 computers floating around our 7 buildings (and the 8th location on wheels) for traditional computer services including Internet access.

People take tests online proctored by library staff, and search for various forms no longer provided by federal, state, and local offices now closed and gone.  All of our locations have Public Notary service available.

Research assistance is available with our Local History and Genealogy Department serving the entire county online, by phone, or in-person.

Programming is offered around the system for children and adults; even Summer Reading Club is now open to the grown-ups!

All of this is wrapped within 7 buildings and a Bookmobile and 66 staff members; and “wrapped” is probably the wrong word to use.  With technology, these services are no longer just within a building, but extended into cyber-space for anyone to access.

The training at these Workshops are concentrated on eBook downloading and access, which has gone from mysterious and baffling to a much simpler, cleaner process that anyone can master with some assistance.

And assistance is what we are striving for --- library staff who can hand you an instructional brochure and do some simple training for the process.

The other area is training on the library web page and the tons of resources available right there.

Major improvements have been made to the online resources and the explanation of how to access each one from home, work, or at the library.

Even for an old librarian, the resources at your fingertips in these online resources are nothing short of amazing.

And they are different from “just Googling” on the Internet.  These datgabases contain edited and proctored materials developed for specific purposes; instead of the Internet in general, 90 percent of which is written by someone and anyone who may or may not have a clue about their subject.

This is all part of the value-added to information from your public library.

Oh yes, the staff loved my presentation, they all smiled and nodded affirmatively when I asked twice!