PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
Last month, the eight libraries in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison, and Carroll Counties got together to cooperate.
We are all part of the same automation system that manages the circulation of our library collections to the public.
All the libraries decided that it was time to standardize our policies and procedures for the benefit of the public.
The result is that you can take your library card to any of the eight library systems, from Carrollton to Bellaire, from Freeport to Brilliant and check out a book.
That book will now have the same loan period; the same overdue fine, and can be returned at any library.
The standard loan period for books, magazines, books on tape/CD will be three weeks.
If not requested, they can be renewed for another three-week loan by either calling the library, or you can renew online on your library card account.
Videos and DVDs can be borrowed for one week, as well as best selling books and special items.
The big change is the standardization of the overdue fines at 10 cents per day for everything.
No longer will videos and DVDs be a different rate.
Overdue notices will be mailed when an item is one week overdue, will a bill for replacement of the item sent if not returned after 6 weeks.
E-mail courtesy notices will still be sent 3 days before the item is overdue, if you provide the library with your e-mail address.
The other big change relates to the checkout of videos and DVDs.
In the past, anyone under the age of 18 was not permitted to checkout videos and DVDs.
Now, the choice is left to the parents or legal guardian, who may or may not permit checkout to their children of videos and DVDs.
That choice can be changed at any age desired by the parent.
Teacher's library cards have also been adjusted to allow longer checkout of materials for their classrooms.
All of these policies and procedures are now uniform within the 8 libraries in the area, so when items are requested from other libraries, checkouts will uniformly match.
Of course, the library's catalog containing 5.2 million items in 69 libraries in Ohio is available online at www.steubenville.lib.oh.us or by visiting any of the libraries.
Any circulating item can be requested online, in person, or by calling any library.
The standardization of procedures is exciting to me. I think it will make using the library easier for everyone.
This process will continue around the state. The next meeting has Washington, Monroe, Noble, and Morgan Counties reviewing their procedures to see if that want to match our Eastern Ohio procedures.
With technology, the linking of libraries is easy and beneficial to the libraries as well as the public that utilize them.