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Library to offer limited wireless

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library Board of Directors voted at its January meeting to move forward on requests to add wireless Internet service (wi-fi) at its two busiest branches.

According to Director Gina Milburn, wireless access has been one of the most requested services from library customers. Lacking funds to install wireless Internet access at all of its branches, directors took a closer look at the challenge.

Judy Wormington, from Sofnet, submitted a $2,452.50 quote for installing wi-fi at two locations. Costs could rise if a branch's web server did not work as a main server for the project.

Board members voted to place wi-fi at the Cassville and Mt. Vernon branches, located in the two county seats. Monett and Aurora branches would be considered in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1. Other locations would follow as funds permit.

Milburn said a Monett school official had spoken with her about having more places in Monett offering wi-fi now that high school students all have personal laptop computers.

Circulation details

Activity at the Cassville Branch topped all the other branches in December, 2011. Circulation was also up at the Eagle Rock and Miller branches.

In response to increased monthly circulation and the high use of the building in Cassville, board members agreed to add four hours to children's coordinator Verna Fry, putting her at a 40 hour work week, and adding eight hours for part-time clerk Carol Griffin.

Overall statistics for the district were available from numbers tabulated by Milburn for the annual Public Library Statistical Data Survey. The system's collection, as of Dec. 19, 2011, included 250,424 items. Of these, 225,672 are print items, 17,798 are movies and 6,621 are audio books. The various branches have 333 magazine subscriptions.

A total of 36,988 registered card holders made 265,876 visits to the library during the year and checked out 515,207 items. The Barry-Lawrence system borrowed 1,188 items from other libraries and loaned 753 items.

Reference librarians responded to 10,292 questions from customers. The 120 public access computers were used 80,879 times in the year. The staff provided 17 computer classes each month, often offering one-on-one instruction.

Branch improvements

Bids are now being accepted for several projects at the Cassville and Mt. Vernon branches. Architect Richard Werner broke down the tuck pointing, mortar repair and sealing at the Cassville Branch and excavating and brick work at the Mt. Vernon Branch into separate jobs or as a total package for interested contractors.

Bids will be accepted until 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Monett Branch. Plans are available over the Internet from Springfield Blueprint.

Alexander Construction was selected as the only bidder to undertake $2,860 of work to repair the sidewalk at the Miller Branch. Alexander Construction also was selected to resolve the drainage problem at the Pierce City Branch.

Milburn briefed the board on her continuing tour of the various branches. Each of the buildings are in generally good condition, she said, except for the Shell Knob Branch. Board members decided major work on the Shell Knob Branch will wait until the economy improves, though they were undecided about making major renovations or exploring a new building for the community.

A more proactive general maintenance plan, which incorporates painting, carpeting and collection development, will be launched to update branches every five to 10 year, Milburn said.

Technology issues

Allowing customers to use flash drives in public computers will require the installation of new protective programs, Milburn reported. Judy Wormington from Sofnet has worked with staff to review products that would restore each computer back to the original setting at the end of each day. Milburn plans to have the new policy on flash drives ready by spring.

Board members looked at two proposals from software vendor The Learning Company (TLC). They approved a three-year renewal of current services, saving $6,206 over annual deals. They also purchased an upgrade to the circulation and public access catalog terminals that also offers a children's catalog and mobile access for $900, a package that previously cost several thousand dollars.

Carol Griffin was hired for a part-time clerk's position at the Cassville Branch, replacing Gayle Wormington. Griffin began her duties on Jan. 7.

Administrative reports

Milburn reported she and Janea Coker, the children's coordinator and supervisor at the Marionville Branch, are working with the branch children's coordinators on changes to the summer reading program. They want to standardize the program to provide the same rules and prizes for participants at all of the 10 branches.

Fundraising has been conducted differently at each branch. Milburn would like to see a more cohesive fundraising collective. Branches will still be encouraged to offer unique and creative programs, based on their customer's needs and wants.

The library board will next meet at 9 a.m. on Feb. 23 at the Monett Branch.

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