April 26, 2007

Library No Longer Just About Books

It used to be that a library card meant you had the power to check out a book for a couple of weeks. Today, that same little library card is a key to unlocking an ever-expanding number of resources.

Libraries are still, first and foremost, places where people can discover literature, check out research materials and find a quiet place to work,” said Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who oversees the Missouri State Library. “However, over the past decade, they have evolved into hi-tech media and information centers.”

The Scotland County Memorial Library has more than 43,000 items in its collection inventory. While the vast majority of these pieces, 33,000 plus, is still good old-fashioned books, the library has expanded to offer new mediums.

“Our collection is changing weekly,” said librarian Melissa Schuster. “We make every effort to keep up with what is in demand by the public.”

Right now, that means the local library is expanding its offerings of large-print books. Another high priority item is audio books, on cassettes and CDs.

“We have seen tremendous growth in demand for both these categories,” Schuster said. “People of all ages are checking out the large-print items and the audio books are extremely popular with truck drivers and other travelers.”

Approximately 2,800 audio cassettes and CDs were checked out from the library in 2006.

Books still topped the circulation statistics last year, with nearly two-thirds of the 45,350 total checkouts. Patrons checked out 4,187 videotapes or DVDs and 1,633 periodicals.

The library maintains subscriptions to 67 different magazines and newspapers. The current issues are available for viewing in the library and past issues of the magazines may be checked out.

These current and past issues (2,917 units) make up just a small portion of the total collection.

Adult fiction books represent 13,406 books in this total. There are 8,875 adult non-fiction books. Young adult fiction for students in grades seven through 12, consists of 2,036 books. Juvenile (sixth grade and younger) fiction has 7,726 books and juvenile nonfiction has 3,541 books.

The library has 1,189 videocassettes, 299 DVDs, 231 CD audio books, 490 music CDs, 679 audiocassettes and 22 discovery packs for kids. The genealogy department adds another 1,623 books and print material units to the total collection.

All of these materials are available six days a week. The library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Extended hours are available on Tuesday and Thursday when the library stays open until 7:00 p.m. Saturday hours are 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The staff consists of Schuster, circulation clerk Genese Lewis and aids Jewel Brown, Faye Humphrey and Diane Kight.

The library is funded by local and state taxes as well as state and federal grant funds. The bulk of the annual revenue, approximately $96,000, is generated by the county tax levy of 19 cents per $100 assessed valuation that was approved by Scotland County voters in 1988.

Schuster recently received a grant to receive on-line training in the Show Me Steps to Career Development program that will offer library specific information on budgeting and building planning and management.

Grants as well as approximately $2,000 in state aid round out the annual budget that is approved by a five-member board of directors. Julie Clapp serves as the board president. Charles Hammock is the vice president and Deanna Dunn serves as secretary. Jane Gelbach (treasurer) and Lin Stephenson round out the board.

The board and staff utilize the annual budget to staff and maintain the facility and to continually expand the library offerings.

“I place a major book order once a month,” Schuster said. “But we are adding new items weekly.”

The constant upgrading keeps the local library current on offerings. However it does create space issues for the facility.

“Finding room for all of the new items is our biggest challenge,” Schuster said. “We have to wade through the current collection and try to eliminate items that are not being used by the public. It’s a lot of trial and error.”

Once items are removed from circulation for good, they are offered to the public for sale.

But county residents do not have to buy anything to use the library. A library card is available free of charge to all residents of the county. There is a $2.50 charge to replace lost cards. Non–residents of the county can purchase a card for $15.

The card entitles its holder to check out books for two weeks. Videos are checked out for two days, with a limit of three per household.

“Libraries are expanding and improving every day,” said Carnahan. “If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, it is about time you paid a visit.”

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