Good things are happening at PCPL

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Putnam County Public Library Board met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday evening during which it discussed several ways to keep improving library operations.

In hopes of getting more community involvement, the library will soon be introducing a teacher card program. This program will allow for teachers to check out materials for longer periods in hopes of increasing classroom curriculum with a rotation of materials.

Teachers will be able to check out up to 50 books, eight audio books, 50 kids or other materials for a limit of 75 items.

"The PCPL teacher program is an exclusive program designed to give Putnam County classroom teachers increased access to the library's collections and services," Library Director Grier Carson said. "As we've discussed in previous meetings, features of the program include increases in checkout limits, increases in hold limits, increases in lending periods, elimination of overdue fees and new pickup/drop-off accommodations."

Although, the logistics as far as delivery methods are still being determined, the library hopes to utilize such resources as the Greencastle Pony Express system as well as the library's Bookmobile. More information is expected in the next week, as library officials will soon be meeting with schools individually to discuss the program.

"The hope is to reach out to Putnam County teachers and librarians at the very start of the school year in interest of connecting the library's resources to teachers' needs and curricula and to make a direct connection between PCPL and Putnam County students," Carson added. "We're very excited. We would love to be able to say that we could use the Bookmobile and have a central drop off for all schools, but we don't know if that's going to be possible yet. What I'm expecting is going to happen is we will split the difference. We're still working on it."

The library's new technology integrator/media specialist Michael Acsbok began his position last week and has since hit the ground running coming up with several new ideas he hopes to implement to improve library services.

Acsbok came to the Putnam County Public Library from the Chesterton Public Library in Westchester, Ind. and was formerly their IT manager.

"I did network administration, but I also implemented training for the public. I did about 15 different training programs for the public along with several training programs for the internal staff," Acsbok said. "I also created what was called a Tech Help Desk for the public, where they could come in and bring their laptops or desktops and get questions answered for them or simple problems fixed."

It is that Tech Help Desk that Acsbok is hoping to implement at the Putnam County Public Library as it continues to expand in its technology department.

"I've only been here a week and I've already got some priorities," Acsbok said. "One is going to be getting into an email platform, Google Apps for Business, so we can all be on a shared workspace. My other roles I see are going to be increase the digital literacy for the staff, they're going to need somebody to go to on a regular basis for problems and for help. I see this job probably evolving over time. I see it changing."

Acsbok also hopes to increase regular training classes for the staff on a variety of subjects including the new Overdrive e-book system, Google Apps for Business, the Polaris Library System and more.

"We're very excited to have him here," Carson said. "He's hit the ground running to say the least."

Acsbok is also hoping to create some training sessions for the public on the use of iPads to coordinate with the Greencastle school's going to the 1:1 program in several of its grades.

"I think it will be really valuable to have a place for everybody in the community to come if they have a problem with that," Acsbok noted. "Until we have regular times for that sort of thing, I'm here everyday."

Carson also gave a brief update on the status of the children's room, which is about to receive a much-needed facelift.

The Children's Room has now been cleared and is ready for construction to begin. The transformation will create a completely new space, which will include integrated technology, reading nooks, a giant tree which patrons will be able to climb inside and much more.

The library board, staff and the OMS architectural staff, chose the overall nature theme of the new space.

"It reflects childhood and nature and lends a striking visual impact for both children and adults," board member Lisa McCoy said of the large tree that will be installed in the new area. "The symbol of the library has long been a Poplar leaf, so we wanted to play that symbolism up in the youth area. I imagine kids grabbing a good book and curing up to read underneath the tree, even on a snowy day in the middle of February."

The library also plans on changing the name from the Children's Room to Imagination Portal, as it "combines the spirit of discovery and learning inherent in the traditional library experience with the excitement of technological transformation and immersion," Carson said.

Carson informed the board that initial bids for the Imagination Portal project far exceeded the library's budget, so many aspects of the project including lighting, flooring, audio systems and material upgrades have been revisited in order to bring the final cost down.

"A new bid from 3D Pro Construction includes the following revisions to the original plan, eliminate all electrical work specific to lighting as well as new fixtures, eliminate the integrated audio system, eliminate the nature space including the exterior landscaping and cleaning and changes in some materials including classroom space sink and carpeting," Carson said. "These changes don't change the function of the space."

The final bid for the project came in at $113,709 and was unanimously approved by the board during a special meeting on Monday, July 14.

Construction is scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 11 and should be completed no later than Thursday, Sept. 25, which will be well in advance of the Indiana State Library event the library will be hosting on Thursday, Oct. 23.

"It's important to note that the revisions to the Imagination Portal project are relatively minor and in no way compromise the vision or function of the new space," Carson stated. "In other words, it will be an incredibly exciting space for learners of all ages to embrace and exploit."

While the construction takes place a variety of Children's materials and computers with program resources will be available in the Kiwanis Room. The youth services temporary telephone extension is 103.

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