Tuesday, May 04, 2010


National, State, and Local Library Events

To the library world in the state and the nation, April is a big month. That translates to activity in the Chambers County Library System as well. National Library Week was celebrated from April 11 through 17 this year, and we held a “Fine Free” event for those patrons who just love their books so much they can’t get them back on time. Our intrepid overdue notice staff person sent everyone little notes about the event, and many managed to get in during the week with their items, thus avoiding some fees. From January to mid-April we’ve still managed to collect over $7,000.00 on late fees, fax calls, and printing charges. That goes back to the County’s general fund.
The Texas Library Association annual conference occurred during this period, from the 13th through the 16th. Held in San Antonio this year, the last day featured TT4L, the Texas Teens for Libraries program that Assistant County Librarian Valerie Jensen was instrumental in creating a few years ago. She ended her involvement as a major player this year with an amazing “book talk” program that drew well over 400 teens and adults. And in case you think she managed to get any sleep at all prior to that, she also was featured on a webinar that drew a national audience. The topic? Well, of course, it involved young adults. Our girl has got the goods!
Scott Crawford, new Winnie Branch Librarian, attended his first Small Library Management Training session this month. This session (out of 5 held over the next 2 years) involved computer research. In addition to the training sessions, Scott was able to begin meeting some of the area library directors who attended. Valerie and I got together with another group during a Southeast Region Small Community Libraries meeting at the very impressive new Jones Library in Dayton. This group is comprised of library people in Orange, Jefferson, Hardin, Newton, Liberty, and Chambers counties. We meet twice a year to hash out local issues and ongoing management problems.
Melba Gmelch, staff person at Anahuac, helped host our Houston Area Library System workshop that was held on the 7th. The topic: Making an $mpact: building employment resources for your community. This workshop inspired Melba to create a “Job Center” area for the many people who come to the library for help designing resumes, doing online applications, for computer training, and mastering interviews. The collection is coming together on this, and the Winnie and Mont Belvieu sites are working on adding similar areas to their branches. Melba also kicked off her new programming effort, the “Craft Club” on the 24th, and we hope it will grow and interest our residents who like to work with their hands.
Nikki Beltram, staff person at Mont Belvieu, held a successful Microsoft Excel training session last month, and due to demand, will do so again in May. Excel is a great tool, and obviously, people want to learn more about using it. Our monthly computer sessions for bare beginners at each branch show a continuing need for more programs like this for both new and advanced users.
The County Employee Health and Benefits Fair, held on the 15th, was an opportunity for the library system to preach to our peers. Our library booth featured a variety of exercise, disease, and health-oriented DVDs, books, and magazines, in both English and Spanish. We also managed to work in a few items of interest in our general collection, like our online database programs for downloading audiobooks, genealogy materials, and our latest, the online email book club. Quite a few employees who stopped were very interested in what we can offer them.
Speaking of those DVDs and books: I had a chance to look at last year’s statistics (thanks to a staff query) and learned that of the 260,537 items that were circulated to patrons last year, about 70% were print (books, magazines, paperbacks) 20% were audio-visual (DVDs, audiobooks, etc.) and the other 10% were our oddball items that get lumped into “other”. That 20% of a-v translates into a whopping 50,990 items, so even though it’s obvious that the book isn’t dead, and probably never will be, we still have a major market on our hands serving our residents with materials that let them take advantage of the technology on the market today. We look at this information very carefully when it comes time for us to formulate our budgets for the coming year. Our resources for library materials need to provide educational assistance for our learners, general information for those seeking it, and entertainment for all the rest. This ties in with our mission statement, and we take it very seriously.

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