The long and winding road.
Itâ€™s a pretty exciting time to be Director of the Meadville Public Library. In the next few months we will have completed out latest round of physical improvements to the library and we will be introducing our new web-based on-line patron catalog computerized card catalog).
As for those who have suffered the noise and dust of the libraryâ€™s remodeling over the past few years, you will be happy to know that the end is near. As I write this column the last of the planned renovations is being completed on the Main Floor.
The Main Floor remodeling, when finished, will increase the libraryâ€™s nonfiction collection by almost 400 square feet and allow us to add additional seating. The other benefit is that one of the libraryâ€™s big windows will be uncovered to let in the afternoon sun.
Of course none of the remodeling and expansion of the library would have been possible without a generous gift through the Helene Barco Cultural Center by Helene and Jim Duratz six years ago. That gift provided the space to relocate the Historical Society, which then allowed the library to expand the Fiction area, move the administration office to the old Historical Society storage room and now to expand the nonfiction area.
Along the way the staff has moved 45,000 books (in Non-Fiction the collections were moved no less than three times), installed more than a half mile of new shelving, used over 100 gallons of paint, laid over 8,000 square feet of carpet, assembled 15 cherry tables and constructed a conference and computer room for staff use. And yes, the library staff did this work, not contractors. When I say we have a staff that can get things done I mean it!
Another example of our library’s hands-on attitude is the new circulation system that will be installed shortly. The circulation system is a computer program that manages all of the library’s circulation and catalog functions. Our current system dates back to 1991 and is sadly lacking in many ways, especially not being able to serve up pages from the web.
Starting three years ago, Meadvilleâ€™s library staff along with librarians from all over Crawford County decided to plan for our next computerized circulation program. After countless hours of meetings, presentations and sales pitches, Crawford County librarians decided that the best candidate was an open source program called Koha (pronounced co-HA).
Over the past year, the Crawford County Federated Library System has been working with Liblime, a company in Athens, Ohio to write new features and improve the standard Koha program. At the same time, librarians from the county have been meeting weekly to begin plannng the transfer to this new system. We will hopefully begin rolling out the new Circulation system at the beginning of the new year here in Meadville and in the spring to the rest of the Crawford County libraries.
What will the new circulation system mean for you? Well, a little or a lot, depending on your needs and your Internet skills. First of all, nothing will change concerning library cards, checking out books or finding books you have checked out in the past. The new system will allow you to use your card at any Crawford County public library without having to re-register at each facility.
The biggest difference will concern accessing the libraryâ€™s information through the Web. By going to meadvillelibrary.org you will be able to access our computerized card catalog and find out whether a particular book is on the shelf not only at this library but in any public library in Crawford County. You will be able to view book covers and even connect to Amazon.com to read their reviews and comments concerning books you select. Needless to say, anything the current circulation system can do, the new system will do better; you will have more access and control of your library card account.
As you can tell, we have been busy trying to upgrade and expand both our facilities and our circulation services so we can provide you, our patrons, with the best access to information â€“ whether it be in a book, a magazine or on the Web. Come in and check out our improvements.