The Putnam County Public Library's new director, Grier Carson, is wasting little time getting the ball rolling as he introduced the library board to one of many changes that he hopes will bring the library into the 21st century.
In an effort to provide patrons with different forms of media, the library will be introducing a new videogame collection within coming months.
"(It's) one that truly represents the dynamic evolution of contemporary art, media and storytelling," Carson said. "The guiding principle behind this new collection is the very one that informs our approach to all collection development -- to provide access to the world of information, media and entertainment.
"Like audio recordings, films and graphic novels before them, video games represent a vibrant new art form that has captivated the imagination of multiple generations by utilizing a virtually unprecedented electronic interface to reinvent the art of storytelling."
The new videogame collection will be divided into two sections, one for children and one for adults. Staff members will also be nominated to participate in a selection committee in hopes of getting a wide range of appropriate titles.
"Today's well-developed video game is an engrossing virtual experience that involves learning and thinking in new ways," Carson said. "Though we pride ourselves on striving for innovation, we are by no means far ahead of the curve on this one. Public libraries have been collecting videogames for many years now, and some have gone so far as to initiate programming for these collections.
"As with any library initiative, we hope that our patrons will appreciate the benefit from these various collections as we endeavor to expand our resources, attract new library users and serve the greater Putnam County community," Carson said.
Meetings with staff will begin next week and it is Carson's hope to present the board with new policies to be put in place as well as a formal proposal during the next board meeting. If all goes well, the collection will be launched at the beginning of April.
Keeping with the goal of moving the library forward, Carson also advised the board he recently spoke with Tim Walker, a representative with ENA, to discuss laying the groundwork for a technological transformation.
"A library must first enhance its network capabilities," Carson said.
In meeting with Walker, the library applied for a full bandwidth increase via E-Rate to increase capacity from the current 10 mbps to a potential 100 mbps beginning in July 2014. If this is approved, the library will remain within the current E-Rate coverage model and thus it should not affect the library's operating cost.
Secondly, Carson informed the board that he is interested in purchasing ENA Air, which is a wifi network management service.
"It essentially manages our wireless network for us, at a cost," Carson explained. "It would not fit in our E-Rate coverage. Managing a wireless network is a lot of work on top of handling our internal network infrastructure. If you're going to make great technological change in a building you have to do the network infrastructure upgrades first."
At this time, Carson did not know how much the service would cost the library, but expects to have a quote along with some more information during the board's March meeting.
Carson also advised the board that the library is having issues with its roof leaking.
"Excessive precipitation and existing roof problems have yielded serious water leaks on no less than three separate occasions. This isn't something a Band-Aid solution is going to solve," Carson said.. "He can go up there and patch up a few obvious spots and we're going to turn around and have another leak in another corner of the library. There's no way to get around the fact that we're going to have to replace the roof."
Carson provided the board with a quote to replace the roof, which totaled nearly $50,000. At this time, the board did not move to replace the roof as it hopes to explore other alternatives before making a final decision.
Finally, the board received an update on the status of the children's room renovation as Carson recently spoke with OMS and gave its officials a ballpark figure of $100,000.
"Everything that we want to do is doable," Carson said. "They're going to get back to us no later than March 17 with an official quote and proposal with timeline for this entire project."
Carson noted that at this time he could make no promises that everything will be completed for $100,000, but if money were an issue the board would need to prioritize the things that are absolutely necessary.
In other Library Board business:
* Sam Hirt will now be in charge of all library public relations communications in an effort to keep things more cohesive.
* Carson and the library will soon address the issue of housekeeping with H & H as work has been inconsistent. Carson advised he will be putting a contract in place to address accountability concerns as well as to outline the work that is expected of the company.
* The library hopes to improve its volunteer program with DePauw. Carson hopes to restructure the program in order to benefit both the library and the volunteers who participate by formalizing and advertising its approach and making the prospect of library work more attractive and rewarding. The overhaul will involve all departments in hopes of seeing increased coordination among department heads with respect to volunteer scheduling, project completion and accountability.
* The library will be trading in three AWE machines, which are used in the children's department. The new machines, with trade-in, will cost $8,500 and will be purchased out of the operating fund.