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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.

Last Sunday as Director

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 26, 2018


Today will be my last Sunday article as the Director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


Michael P. Gray will assume the role of Director of the library system on Sept. 1, and I will switch tasks and become the Assistant Director; a position that he has held since 2002.


Next March, I will retire from the library system following my 36 year tenure in this position, and 48 years of librarianship.


So, what is the point of all of this shuffling around?


I announced by retirement to the Board in the fall of 2017, and shared my concerns with the Library Board of Trustees this spring, that I wanted a smooth transition of administration, and if Mike Gray was the person they wanted as the next Director, I would be pleased to switch positions to allow me to pass along the responsibilities.


My other concern is the successful completion of the Main Library ADA renovation and construction project, and this switch will allow me to be sure that is completed and the library is reopened.


I admit that this switch is a bit odd, and I have had several calls from colleagues around the state asking exactly what I am doing.


The Library Board interviewed Mike as a Board of the whole, and offered him the position of the 14th Director to serve the library system in its 117 year history, and I am pleased this will all work.


This will work in part, due to the 16 years that Mike & I have worked together and the professional admiration we have for each other.


Mike will do things differently from me, and I look forward to his impact on this wonderful library system.


In the meantime, I have the Main Library building to finish and be sure it will be a successful operation for our county.


There is a lot to do beyond the physical construction of the building.  Interior furnishings and equipment need to be acquired, with many of the current items planned for reuse.


The three public service desks acquired in 1988 will all reappear in the new library complex; somewhat rearranged to serve new purposes.


Much of the shelving in the library will be recycled into the new spaces, and the administrative offices will sport much of the 1936 acquisition of tables and chairs, along with the Board table that dates from the 1920s.


Attention to the new era of technology will bring seating to the new portion of the building that will have power and Wi-Fi service for people using the various devices that are part of today’s information technology.


Individual study rooms will be housed in the new building as well as a public meeting room as libraries become the “new office” replacing the local, state, and federal offices that were formerly housed in communities.


Yes, I have been told that I can still write my Sunday article as Assistant Director, and integrate others into the task as I fade away into the sunset.


If I have a disappointment, it is that I won’t be working in the new library complex, but I will be glad to help with historical indexing and other odds and ends that develop from time to time.


I am honored to be the longest-serving Director of the library system, and hope I have had a positive impact on information services for the county over the years.


The library today is the collective impact that everyone who has worked and served here has had over the 117 years that it has existed.