Friday, March 06, 2009


Success Brings Up Other Issues

The Chambers County Library System works very hard to make visiting your local library a pleasant experience for everyone. Our efforts have paid off over the years, since we had over 150,000 people walk through the doors and we circulated over a quarter of a million items in 2008.

Occasionally, we have a problem or two, and again, we work hard to make sure that these problems don’t continue and drive away our happy customers. If everyone knows the rules, so to speak, and everyone agrees to abide by them, then the whole atmosphere is better for the customers, for the library staff, and for the community in general.

Shopping is a good example of our problem #1. When you visit a store, you purchase something, and flash a bit of plastic, some cash, or write a check. At the library, you need to do something similar: you flash that plastic library card. This was a big change from a few years ago, when everyone on staff knew everyone who walked in the door. We just can’t operate that way anymore, and absolutely need to know that a library card is in your possession to use our materials and services. If your card is lost, a new set of three cards can be purchased for $1.00, provided that your existing library record is up to date, with no additional charges listed. Your first, card, of course, is still free.

A second problem we are addressing these days is disruptive, unattended children. We aren’t talking about children who come to library programs and movies, or who sit at the computers quietly; the key word is disruptive. Crying, running, making excessive noise, and generally upsetting the other library patrons can result in a frank discussion with a parent about the behaviors. According to the library system policy on unattended children who are not picked up when the library closes, the Sheriff’s Department should be contacted. The library staff is exceedingly busy, as witnessed by those attendance and circulation figures above; they do not replace the attentive care of a parent or caregiver who needs to be aware of the child’s activities.

Another issue that has arisen lately is that of older library visitors who, because the library is welcoming, turn the site into an area for loitering, rude speech, rowdy behavior, and potentially dangerous rambunctiousness. For their safety, and for the comfort of the library patrons who are actually using the facilities for library purposes, our policy again states that the staff should contact the Sheriff’s Department to curtail the problems. The library staff may also contact parents (if the culprits are under 16) and may ban the youngsters from the libraries for some time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


New Author, New Floor

Lots of things happening this month! Author and staff member Lesa Boutin was featured on the 4th at the West Chambers Branch with an “Author Signing” event to recognize her 2nd book, “Amanda Noble, Special Agent”. We’re quite proud of our “author in residence.”

The Winnie Library finally got their Ike-damaged floor repaired on the 14th and 15th; the water covering the floors had destroyed the mastic that holds the tiles down. As a result, we were able to mitigate some of the noise at the front entrance by replacing some of the tile with the special hard-wearing carpet that all three libraries had installed some years ago. The new storage building that was built last summer (and destroyed by Ike) was also replaced this month with a container box similar to the one at Anahuac. We look forward to having it leveled so we can use it. Our pretty library is looking a bit cluttered with all our out-of-season decorations and equipment scattered about.

The Library Advisory Board met on the 10th, and 2 new members were brought on, and given a thorough indoctrination on their new jobs. All board members, HALS representatives, and the two staff members were in attendance, a first for quite a while. The group decided to travel to the other libraries for their next two meetings, so all members could get an idea of what’s available in each place.

Valentine parties were all the rage of course, with the preschool set having theirs in the mornings, and the after-school crowd whooping it up in the afternoon. The Young Adult group had a Valentine movie (The Wedding Singer) and followed that the next week with a rowdy group learning how to make wallets out of duct tape.

We have finally started an English as a Second Language (ESL) class! Several students have been on our waiting list for over a year, and we are juggling our GED and ESL instructor’s time in order to accommodate these eager learners. New students are more than welcome to both classes, anytime. The instructor is paid through federal funds courtesy of AISD and through the Loan Star Grant Direct Aid to Libraries, courtesy of our state legislature.

Assistant County Librarian attended the Houston Area Library System’s “geographic meeting” on the morning of the 27th, followed by a Continuing Education Committee meeting in the afternoon. This committee is responsible for the activities related to staff at all the HALS sites, and they award staff development funds when available for worthy projects. Chambers County Library System has received several of these grants in past years.

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