Library closes year on high note

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Putnam County Public Library Board held its last meeting of the year on Wednesday evening, during which it discussed the final checklist for the Imagination Portal as well the start of technology classes.

Library Director Grier Carson gave the board a brief update on the newly renovated youth services area, which is nearly complete and down to just 12 final items on the punch list.

"With the completion of renovation projects and operational improvements alike, we are wrapping up an invigorating year of progress here at PCPL," Carson said. "The reality is not everything is done. Final punch out lists for the Imagination Portal are being addressed, while patrons continue to marvel at the design and function of the new space."

Overall, the project itself is nearly complete. However, there are some minor issues such as the resizing of window seat cushions, paint touch-ups, shelving and console cabinet and carpet replacements that need to be finished.

"It's a lot of nit-picky things," Carson said. "The window seats weren't the right size, that's an easy change out. The biggest change was the console cabinet replacements. We were very unhappy with these large and frankly dangerous sharp cornered counsel cabinets. OMS has taken responsibility for that as sort of a design and functional oversight. What will happen is we will keep these in place and keep things around them to keep people away from the corners and at some point they will come in to replace them at no cost to us. My hope is that they will not only be safer, but they'll look better."

It was also noted that the architectural firm, OMS, will be submitting the project for this year's Indiana Design Awards in hopes of winning the best new library space.

"It would be great certainly for us, but very much for them if they were to win an award for this," Carson added. "It would be great publicity for us and it's great for OMS."

Carson also gave an update on the circulation space, which is in desperate need of a redesign as well.

"We would like to make it more inviting and sort of an actual library space rather than that pass through area," Carson explained. "It's tough to do because you've got tile floor and you've got big tall ceilings with nothing on the wall. It's just kind of like a cavernous foyer. It doesn't have any real theme or design to it."

With the help of Circulation Manager Cortina Ziuchkovski, the brainstorming stages of what to do with the space are well under way with one of the biggest changes being the replacement of the community bulletin board with digital signage.

"We'll still have a physical bulletin board," Carson explained. "It just won't necessarily be as big."

The library is also hoping to find a more permanent home for the copier/fax machine, update the furniture, adding some noise cancellation as well as some wall art.

"We're just kind of throwing ideas around for what we want to do," Carson said. "We want to make the circulation lobby much more attractive and maybe even a place where people maybe even spend time rather than just passing through. I think there's a lot we can do it's very much a blank canvas, but we don't want spend money like we did in children's to do it either. We want to use what we have and partner with people if possible."

In keeping with Carson's goal of transforming the library's function and identity within the community, the library will soon offer free technology classes to its patrons.

Carson came before the board to give a brief update on the classes, which technology integrator Michael Acsbok will be in charge of.

"This is something that Acsbok had done at his previous library," Carson explained. "He set up these public computer training classes. Patrons would sign up for them, come to the library. They got really, really popular to the point where he was holding them for staff as well as members of the public and even staff from other libraries. He wants to do the same thing here and that's exactly what we hired them to do -- bring technology skills and training to the public through the library."

It was also noted that the possibility of holding such classes has been made possible due to Acsbok obtaining a grant from the Putnam County Community Foundation for the purchase of a $8,500 mobile cart, which will include the laptops for the classes, a projector as well as a few devices to help with the classes.

"He is going to be sharing a schedule with the topic of the class on the tech support portion of our website," Carson added. "It's kind of a big imitative for our technology integrator. Part of the reason for doing this is we want to teach baseline technology skills to the public in a very inviting and low pressure environment. They're not paying for it so they don't have to get bang for their buck and worry about that. You won't have a group of people who are way ahead than the other half of the group. We want to make it a very inviting technology training kind of environment."

There will be more advanced classes offered as time goes on as well as workshops to hone in on certain skills such as basic use of Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and more.

"We're going to start out with some very basic things," Carson explained. "How to manage your online profile, how to use Google Docs, how to use Word docs, really basic things like that."

Classes will begin after the first of the year. For more information and for a schedule visit

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