Thursday, February 23, 2012

All doom and gloom...not so!

     That was the first thing he said to me when he walked in the door.
     "I've been reading your blog and it's just all doom and gloom lately.  Aren't y'all doing anything fun anymore?"
     He caught me totally off-guard, even though I saw him walking toward our office.  I have a "sneaky" mirror hanging just behind my computer monitor.  I can see out into the hallway and watch all the goings-on.
     "What do you mean...doom and gloom?"
     "Well, you been writing about all that budget stuff and having no money.  You used to write about the fun stuff y'all do around here."
     His old floppy hat's brim was pulled down over his eyebrows, but his squinty little eyes had a sparkle to them.  I knew he'd stopped by to hassle me all in fun.
     "You just sit yourself down right there in that chair and let me tell you what we have going on," I said.  "You'll see it's not all doom and gloom around here."
     And this is what I told him about.
     I wish you could see the number of people that have been coming here lately for the Prime Time programs every Thursday evening.  This is a program, for which we received a Federal grant, that is aimed at at-risk children who are having problems with reading or families that are economically deprived.  They are provided a light meal and a program with door prizes and books.  Each program lasts for about two hours and the meetings cover a six-week period.  They have between 40 and 60  people at each meeting.  Led by Michele Croft, the Children's Library Coordinator, the program includes Dr. Cindy Hall from ABAC as the Scholar and Norma McKellar, our Children's Library Assistant, as the Storyteller.  Talk about fun!!!  These people are provided a fun atmosphere in which learning is at its highest peak.  And there's the possiblity of the program expanding into other community areas.
     Since the Library has an adult book club, I invited my friend to the Novel Destinations Book Club meeting in March.  The book club meets every second Tuesday in the month, except May and December (the reasons being an abundance of school events in May and Christmas events in December).  On March 13, Richard and Jane Sheldon will give a program about the Holy Land, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Library auditorium.  If you've ever wished you could visit the Holy Land and just didn't have a way to do it, then everyone's invited to join us in this travel.
     I had to tell my friend about us getting so excited the other day that we came up with another part of our Home Front series.  In March we will begin filming "Back in the Day" with our favorite videographer Beau Sherman.  Several local women will talk about sewing family clothes, patterns, and how times have changed.  They'll even bring some interesting family items to share and talk about.  And when Beau is finished with it, the film will be available to show on our local cablevision.
     Something else we're getting ready for is our "Celebration of Women's History Month."  The theme from the 1970s  Helen Reddy tune "I Am Woman" will resonate at this year's Women's History Month activities all throughout Georgia.  We're joining in this celebration with displays of women's pictures, personal items, and books by women authors. The Georgia Women of Achievement, an organization that recognizes and honors women native to or clearly identified with the State of Georgia, who have made extraordinary contributions within their fields of endeavor and who will inspire future generations to utilize their own talents, will induct three Georgia women this year.  Look for our display about Sarah Randolph Bailey, Ethel Harpst, and Beaulah Rucker Oliver.  Learn about the contributions these Georgia women have made in the areas of education and helping children.
     Of course, my friend and I continued to chat about things going on around the library.
     "You didn't come here just to hassle me, did you?" I asked.
     He rose from the chair, rearranged his old floppy hat, and opened the door. 
     He stood there for a while before he said, "You know, everyone around here ought to be damn proud to have this library here.  They ought to just come sit up here for a while and see what y'all do during the day.  Wonder what everyone would do if this library wasn't here?"
     "I've wondered the same thing," I said.
     He smiled his little lop-sided smile; his eyes squinted again and sparkled.
     "I'll see you again," he said.  "Thanks for the cheering up."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Well,here's some more library facts! Budget this time.

     Earlier I gave you some library facts, which I thought were quite impressive.
     Today, Johnnie passed out the latest edition of our Georgia Public Library Service News and it has some impressive facts.  Scarey, in fact.
     I won't get into quoting the entire article about library budgets that I read, but I'd like to share the following with you.
     "Georgia's public libraries, however, will again feel the state's overall economic pinch in the coming year, with an additional $644,965 cut for personnel and operating expenses.  The governor did, however, recommend a $394,218 increase in the formula for library grants, based on an increase in state population." 
     Well, take a lot, give a little, I guess. Thanks goodness for the increase in state population!  And a good majority of those people are coming through our doors on a daily basis.  Probably the same with other libraries, too.
     "The governor recognizes the great value of public libraries, but minor cuts were anticipated," said State Librarian Dr. Lamar Veatch.  "With service demands and library use increasing, any reductions will certainly be challenging for public libraries to absorb."
     I have to tell you, we have one of the best library directors around.  She has found numerous ways to help with these challenging reductions...all the way from replacing the old heating/air conditioning system with a more functional one to putting in a more cost effective copy machine.  Granted our reduction in budget no longer allows us to purchase new books and the new reductions will cut into our Systems Services, but we're marching right along as we continue to open our doors to more and more patrons.
     "As members of the [state's] House and Senate work through and modify the governor's outline, we may see some positive developments," he (Dr. Veatch) said.  "If not, many library systems will need to seek additional local funding or be forced to further reduce services to their communities and citizens who are depending on them more than ever."
     Wonder what positive developments means?  And local funding from those who are encountering hard economic times just as we are?  Plans for April call for our MCCLS Friends Book Sale and we're considering other fundraisers as well.  So far, we have not had to reduce our services.  We're still open with our regular hours; we still work with the majority of our staff as part-timers.  And we continue to see an increase in those who walk through our doors.
    "Due to decreases in funding, Georgia libraries were open 23,776 fewer hours this past year than in 2010, which saw a similar 3 percent reduction in library hours from 2009.  Patron visits still show a cumulative increase, however, of 9.23 percent since 2006 - the year before the state's current economic crunch began."
     Well, having quoted all that, I suppose it doesn't do any good to say we're all in the same boat, huh?  But I want you to know we're trying to stay afloat.  And we're still here for you when you need us.
     So, come on in.  We're always glad to see you.  And we don't look for the lights to go out!
(Source: Georgia Public Library Service News, Vol. 9, Issue 4, February 2012)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Looking back over an old article about myths

     I have a few friends who give me articles they feel I might be interested in reading, especially if they're about books or reading.
     Today I fished one out of my file and read it again.  This time the re-reading made some questions cross my mind that I realize I'll have to ponder in my spare time. 
     The article came from The Chronicle Review last April 2011.  It was written by Robert Darnton, a professor and university librarian at Harvard University.  The essay was based on a talk he gave at the Council of Independent Colleges' Symposium on the Future of the Humanities.  Once it hit the Internet, it had quite a few comments posted, thus making even the comments something I need to think about a little longer.
     The article "5 Myths About the 'Information Age'" listed:
1)  "The book is dead."  Professor Darnton stated that one million new titles would appear worldwide in 2011, with a huge explosion in the output of titles produced by self-publishing authors and "micro-niche" print-on-demand enterprises.  Also that the book business is booming in developing countries like China and Brazil.  The professor stated that the population of books is increasing, not decreasing, and certainly not dying.
2)  "We have entered the information age."  Whoa! I thought.  That is a myth!  I thought we've been in the information age since the old timey phones count? How about all those smoke signals and beating drums? The professor stated "...every age is an age of information, each in its own way and according to the media available at the time."  I certainly had to agree with that.
3) "All information is now available online."  This is where the majority of commenters howled; they agreed with the professor when he said, "The absurdity of this claim is obvious to anyone who has ever done research in archives."  But then an attorney commented by saying he didn't know any attorney under the age of 45 or so who uses printed books to research cases or legislation...that it was extremely rare that he consulted printed books when doing legal research, other than "secondary" sources.  A true "online" type of guy, huh?  However, one commenter said researchers should use both print and digital material in their research.  I had to agree with that!  Professor Darnton also said, "Not only does most information not appear online, but most of the information that once did appear has probably been lost."
4) "Libraries are obsolete."  The professor stated that "everywhere in the country librarians report that they have never had so many patrons."  Well, in 2012 many libraries (ours included) are having their budgets cut profoundly, despite the increasing number of patrons.  I liked what one commenter said: "Libraries are still useful, but they are having to rediscover their use."  We've all read or heard about the libraries that are not only offering new material and services, but have included more enticing ways to bring people in to study or "just hang out," like coffee shops and gift shops.  Of course, we hope when they "hang out," they get a real feel for the books, magazines, and newspapers we have to offer.  They're already at our bank of computers all day long.  So far, we haven't felt our library is obsolete.  Obsolete is absolutely a myth!
5) "The future is digital."  Professor Darnton said, "True enough, but misleading."  He continued, "...the prevalence of electronic communication does not mean that printed material will cease to be important."  He added, "Radio did not destroy the newspaper (but it might be going!); television did not kill radio (NPR is always there, we hope!); and the Internet did not make TV extinct."  Of course, he did talk also about e-books and other means of new technology as part of the mix.
     And then came my time to ponder.  I like that word.
     I took a little time to ask myself the following questions:
1) What way do you get most of your daily information?
2) Do you read "printed" books at all?
3) How do you do most of your reading? "Real" books or "digital" versions?
4) Do you feel libraries are obsolete?
5) Do you think the future will be all digital?  Are newspapers dying?  Will we have to pay for all radio some day?  Will television become all cable?
     What other myths are out there that we have to deal with on a daily basis?  Makes you ponder, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Okay, Georgia...this is for you!

     Last week a coworker gave me a great bunch of facts about our public libraries in Georgia.  They are actually from the Georgia Public Library Service, but, I'll tell you, some of them just blow my mind!
     Did you know that during FY2011, every dollar that was invested in Georgia's public libraries provided a return on investment of $6.48?  Does that seem like a lot to you?  Or just a little?                   
     Did you know that in FY2011, Georgians checked out more than 45.7 million items from their public libraries?
     Did you know that public libraries are the number one point of online access for people without Internet connections at home, school or work?  That 100% of Georgia's public libraries provide free high-speed Internet access to the public?
     Did you know that Americans visit libraries more than twice as often as movie theaters?
     I know that's a lot of information to soak up, but look at this...and I'll make it as plain as possible.

     The number of annual visitors to Georgia's public libraries in FY2011 far exceeds the number of visitors to many of the state's other attractions - combined; such as
  • Georgia's public libraries: 34.6 million
  • Overnight visitors to the city of Savannah: 6.5 million
  • Stone Mountain Park: 4 million
  • Centennial Olympic Park: 3 million
  • Events at the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome: 2.4 milion
  • Georgia Aquarium: 2.3 million
  • UGA and Georgia Tech home football games: 835,000
  • Zoo Atlanta: 770,000
  • Atlanta Hawks home games: 641,000.
     And Georgians value the benefits that their public library cards provide.
  • Georgia's population: 10.2 million
  • Georgia's total households: 4 million
  • Number of Georgians with library cards: 4.5 million
  • Number of Georgians with PINES cards (that's what we have): 2.6 million.
     Did you know that Georgians believe their public libraries are a vital part of their communities?  NO? Well, look at this:
  • 3,055 Georgians work in public libraries (that includes me)
  • 2,500+ Georgians volunteer with public libraries as members of local "Friends of the Library" organizations (we have a place for you in our MCCLS Friends, too)
  • 1,960 Georgians serve as trustees for local public libraries (have you checked out our Board members page on the home page of our website?).
     And last but not least, public libraries are accessible to virtually every community in Georgia.
In Georgia, there are:
  • 405 public library branches and service outlets
  • 214 communities with a public golf course
  • 211 Starbucks stores
  • 179 Publix grocery stores
  • 140 Walmart stores
  • 65 state parks.
     Are you wondering where all this information came from through the Georgia Public Library Service?  The sources are the Georgia Public Library Statistics FY2011, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and various retailers' websites and annual reports.
     If you want to learn more about Georgia libraries, go to their website ( and see what else you can learn.
    Because you see, we are all about learning!  We are just full of knowledge!  And we're here to share with you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How's the stress in your life?

     This is National Heart Month, so I bring this information to you as a public service!

     I have a friend who saves articles and clippings from newspapers, magazines, and many other places I don't even know about.  Last week she passed to me an article (yellowing and crumpled) from a newspaper (do not know which) that told about a woman named Rhett Crowe who leads a yoga class while sitting in chairs.  It's a class to minimize workplace stress, but it probably would help in most places you frequent.  The side bar listed some of the stress busters that she offers as tips.  And I'm going to share them with you today, because - after all - it is National Heart Month and we need to save your heart!

     When you feel stress rising:
     * Do a few simple stretches
     * Take 10 deep, slow breaths through your nose
     * Try to shut out your racing thoughts by concentrating on your
     * Envision yourself in a nurturing environment
     * Remember that you are more effective when not under stress (yeah,
        right!); you can take two minutes to regroup
     Ways to help prevent future stress:
     * Exercise regularly; even walking 15 minutes a day makes a difference
     * Eat a healthy and balanced diet
     * Get enough sleep
     * Meditate regularly so you can quiet your mind more easily when it
        begins to race
     * Write down what you really want out of your life - are your actions
        helping or hurting that goal?
     * Put setbacks in perspective; they probably won't ruin your life.

     So, now you have some tips to help lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and hopefully create some peace in your life.

     And if you'd like to have your blood pressure checked for free, come to the library on Tuesday, February 14, from 9:45 to 11:45, or (and) on Tuesday, February 28, from 1:30 to 3:30.  A nurse from Colquitt Regional Medical Center will be available to check that blood pressure and let you know the results.

     While you're here, be sure to check out a good book to read or an audio tape to listen to.  You'd be surprised how much reading, getting into a good book with your imagination, will help reduce the stress in your life.  That's why there are so many book clubs!  Ever think about that?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We're highlighting two events this month

     This month we're recognizing not only Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day, but we're celebrating Black History Month, as well as making you aware of National Heart Month.
Black History Month
  • In the Odom Genealogical Library, we've placed a poster provided by the National Endowment of the Humanities from their "Picturing America" series.  On an easel near the entrance is the picture of the painting "Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996" by Martin Puryear.  The display includes questions and answers that help us understand the various aspects of this painting.
  • In the hallway between the Odom Library and the public library, a poster titled "Explore Black History" shows pictures of several famous African Americans.  To one side of the poster is a list of African American authors.  To the other side of the poster is a list of known African American inventors from 1845 to 1980, with the name of the invention, patent number and date issued.
  • The lighted cases in the main foyer hold items provided by Keva Williams and Monique Green.  Photographs are of Keva's grandfather, grandmothers, the Esquire Club Ball and Moultrie High for Negro Youth students (circa 1947-1952), plus various personal artifacts.  The foyer table highlights an African dress and head scarf made by Keva's mother, Avanell Williams.  Books written by African American authors surround the dress.  Also, handouts of Black History puzzles, which were provided by Cray Brooks, are on the table.
National Heart Month
  • In the lighted case off the connecting hallway between the libraries, there is a National Heart Month display with information concerning congestive heart failure and what you can do to prevent a heart attack.
  • In several areas of the library are displays regarding The Yale Heart Study.  Sharing your heart attack experience can help others.  Information is needed concerning how you obtained medical care during that experience.  To participate in the online survey, go to
  • Also, free blood pressure checks will be provided this month by a Colquitt Regional Medical Center nurse in the adult reading area on Tuesday, February 14, 9:45 to 11:45 a.m., and again on Tuesday, February 28, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.  Free informational handouts will be available to the public.
Don't forget to look at our "Friends Book Recommendations" shelf, which holds four great Valentine reads.  And in the aisle on the way to the Children's Library, we have a display table filled with Valentine reads..."From Our Heart To Yours."