Building repairs estimated at around $50,000 for the Mt. Vernon and Cassville branches of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library system received a green light from the library's Board of Directors in October.
Architect Richard Werner reviewed problems at the two branches and confirmed serious issues need to be addressed.
The extreme slope of the retaining walls on the north and west sides of the Mt. Vernon Library would continue to cause landscaping problems, Werner said. He recommended abandoning the chronically problematic landscaping by excavating and rebricking the walls and placing concrete blocks below grade. He suggested doing the same on the east side for consistency, where the slope had been covered with concrete and become an eyesore.
The exterior soffit needed painting as well.
Werner found the Cassville Branch needed tuck pointing, especially at the expansion joints. Mortar needed repair in places, then sealing. The mortar on the top of the stand-alone brick sign had eroded. Werner recommended replacing the top brick on the sign with a metal cap.
Bidding both jobs together would bring a better price, Werner said. He agreed to a $6,000 fee for his services, including bid preparation and project oversight. Board members agreed and authorized seeking bids.
Work was continuing on replacing the damaged ceiling tiles at the Aurora Branch. Additional tile had to be ordered to provide enough and leave extras for future repairs.
Board members reviewed three estimates for repairing the sidewalk at the Miller Branch. Settling damage in the Pierce City Branch prompted the board to ask contractor Keith McCracken for an estimate to fix any seams and repaint trouble spots.
Public relations blitz
Director Gina Milburn recounted her efforts to reach out to the community on behalf of the library. She attended the Monett Chamber of Commerce membership mingle on Sept. 22, spoke at the Monett Kiwanis Club meeting and accepted an invitation to the Cassville Rotary Club.
Milburn attended an "Improve the Local Funding Outlook through Community Advocacy" program provided by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a non-profit library cooperative, at the Missouri Library Association conference in Kansas City. OCLC studied public perception of libraries. They found the public has little understanding of library funding and had the greatest support for funding where people saw the library as a way to transform lives.
Milburn said the study identified a need to change public perception from "the library" to "my library." OCLC developed a campaign to do that called "Geek the Library." In the name, "geek" is a verb that equals "love." The approach emphasizes, "No matter what you 'geek,' the library supports you. Get your geek on."
Trial runs of the "Geek the Library" campaign in big and small markets found a 49 to 68 percent increase in awareness of the library. Attitudes and perceptions changed in about two-thirds of those surveyed at the end of the campaign, which ran four to six months.
Grant money is available to support a local "Geek the Library" campaign. The OCLC will share its success stories and provide materials. Milburn said the Barry-Lawrence District would have to sign up no later than March, 2012 to participate.
At the request of the Stone County Library, board members agreed to move into a mutual aid arrangement that would allow Stone County residents in the 65747 zip code to use Barry-Lawrence resources. The Stone County Library would pay the pay the Barry-Lawrence system for each of the new cards issued, so residents would face no charges. Stone County residents would also be able to use the Barry-Lawrence bookmobile during its monthly visits to the plaza in Shell Knob.
The agreement will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. Milburn will complete writing procedures for action at the board's November meeting.
Circulation continues to improve in all the library district's branches, Milburn reported. The Miller Branch had a marked increase in attendance for programs.
Board members approved a number of accounting changes at the recommendation of Patty Weber, who conducted the district's annual audit for The CPA Group.
Policy established a hierarchy for use of various funds held by the district and their general use.
Milburn reported finances appeared on track with projections for the year.
Milburn attended a program on wellness screenings offered by Randy Bell with Bell and Associates in Monett. Screenings through Freeman Health Systems in Joplin would be available for $10 per participant, which could encourage staff to better monitor their health. The matter will be offered to employees at the annual staff meeting on Dec. 9.
A new children's coordinator was being sought for the Cassville branch, following the promotion of Cheryl Williams from that position to branch supervisor.
Children's coordinators Janea Coker and Roxanne Berg attended a program sponsored by the Missouri State Library in Springfield. The session was "Criss Cross Applesauce--Making Multi-age Storytimes the Best That They Can Be."
The board will next meet on Dec. 8.