New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Director Steve Day could teach a class on doing more with less. He has become an expert on the subject over the past two decades.
Despite having his budget slashed $171,000 last year, and having just 44 workers to manage the 67 hours a week the building is open, Day has continued to make improvements and changes to make the library more user friendly.
“We want to meet the needs of the patrons. That’s what we strive to do,” Day said. “This is not a book warehouse. We want to get people the info they need and make it available.”
The recent improvements and changes can be noticed immediately when entering the front doors. There is a new circulation desk which is handicap accessible, and a self-checkout computer has also been installed on the top floor. A holding shelf to store reserved books has been constructed near the self-checkout stand.
“They can call and reserve a book, come in and checkout and be on their way,” Day said. “They don’t even have to go to the circulation desk.”
While the physical changes make the library more user-friendly, the new services offered help patrons meet other needs — including filling out job applications or filing for unemployment.
Near the Reference Services area on the first floor is a job center with three computers, which can only be used for those searching for work or filing for unemployment.
Reference Services Manager Paulette Gibbs, also said patrons are helped through the process if needed. There are also DVDs to help those sharpen interview skills and resume workshops hosted by library personnel.
While there is a time limit on other public computers in the library, the three in the job center have no restrictions.
“Some people come here who haven’t been without a job in 30 years, and many times we have to help them get started,” Gibbs said. “We bring them back here and explain how it works. Many times we have to set up e-mail accounts for them.”
Gibbs said starting at 3 p.m. through the week, and on both Saturday and Sunday, the three computers are constantly in use. The job center was put in before the holidays.
“People now know about it and Saturdays and Sundays are pretty filled up,” Gibbs said. “They know if they need help they can get it. They can come back here and know they don’t have to wait an hour or two to use the computer.”
Beginning this month, the library is also allowing a lot of its reference materials to be checked out. Many of the items are expensive, but Day said some people don’t have four or five hours to stay at the library and look up the information they need. Many of the items have to be returned in seven days.
“This is huge,” Gibbs said. “Many of these items are $100 books. We feel comfortable doing it now.”
Not only does the library have several computers for people to use on both the first and second floors, laptops are also now available. There are currently six ready to be checked out for up to four hours and three more will be ready soon. The laptops can not leave the building.
“It allows people to sit in a comfy chair. We have improved our wireless connection in the library,” Day said.
The Children’s Department will soon get a fifth Early Literacy Computer and coming this year, Day hopes to install a small coffee shop upstairs.
“A lot of patrons want it and a lot of libraries are doing it now,” Day said.
Day said it’s important to meet the needs of the public, and he is determined to keep the library up to date and easy to use.
“This is their library,” Day said of the public. “We want them to use it and be proud of it.”
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