Library board supportive of Makerspace initiative

Thursday, June 27, 2019

With an affirmative gesture from its board of trustees, the Putnam County Public Library could soon see the creation of a new collaborative space. The library is also looking to embolden its outreach in Putnam County through other continuing efforts.

During its monthly session Wednesday evening, Director of Programs Barbara Timm presented information to the Library Board on the establishment of a Makerspace area at PCPL to promote community involvement and innovation.

Part of a movement gaining traction in local libraries nationwide, a Makerspace is a designated area which encourages patrons, especially the younger demographic, to collaborate on projects, from those using STEM-related machinery down to the “no-tech” such as Legos. This space can also be used to build entrepreneurship and business ventures in the community, not that dissimilar from the recently opened Tenzer Technology Center.

Though she said the vision is there, Timm also recognized that the library may not have a specific space that can be dedicated as a Makerspace. However, with input from PCPL Director Brian Briscoe and Treasurer Lisa Barker, Timm also said there is potential that related projects and equipment could be integrated into various programs throughout the library.

Timm related that she had completed a webinar on planning and budgetary considerations, and that the next steps were to visit Makerspace programs at other libraries in places like Greenwood. Timm said that it was imperative for community partners like Castlemakers to be in on the process, and to consider how PCPL’s Makerspace could figure into the library’s outreach efforts as a mobile component.

Briscoe added that a Makerspace would lend itself greatly to collaborations between the community and its leaders, an outlook that was shared by the board.

Board members also heard brief input from Kaitlin Tipsword, the library’s newly minted marketing and communications director. She related that she recently visited events in places other than Greencastle to engage community members, and has also undertaken a consistent re-branding of the library’s image.

She shared her concern that some residents have told her they did not know the library served them, and iterated that accessibility was crucial. Briscoe and the board praised Tipsword on her efforts, as well as her work on a new packet that lays out the library’s services. Tipsword said that she is receptive to improvements, describing herself as a “borrower” of ideas.

In culminating another change at the library, the board also approved two resolutions giving PCPL the go-ahead for transitioning to the cataloging system of the Evergreen Indiana consortium. In a switch from the Polaris system the library currently uses, Evergreen will allow patrons to borrow from other libraries in the consortium, and encourage easier access to PCPL’s online materials.

With some clarification from Barker, The board approved the first resolution allowing PCPL to collect late fees from patrons, as they can be paid at any library supported by Evergreen. The second resolution allowed for a separate fluid account to be created to handle such charges.

In other business, the board passed a resolution presented by Briscoe to pull up to $9,500 from the library’s rainy day fund to make further repairs to its elevator. Briscoe alluded that the elevator was still experiencing issues with groundwater. Water pooling in the elevator shaft is an issue that goes back to September of last year.

Briscoe also briefly discussed upcoming community discussions which will be held throughout the county in July. He said that these events will foster cooperation between residents and community leaders on what is important to them, but will tie into how the library can be involved in solution making.

The board also approved Shandra Kelly as a part-time hire.

The next meeting of the Putnam County Public Library Board is scheduled for Wednesday, July 24 at 6 p.m. in the Kiwanis Room.

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