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Leon Public Library Forum

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

by Kolton Hewlett

            On Thursday, May 2, a variety of community members, past and current educators, concerned parents, businessmen, council members, and library staff met in the council chambers at 7:00pm in order to help determine what future services are needed in the Leon Public Library. 

            Library Trustees have contracted the services of George Lawson, a highly respected library building and planning consultant, to develop an extensive and detailed plan based on what information he was able to gather during the meeting.  He will also take advisement from library staff as well as the trustees.  Trustees include Chairman Mathew Whitaker, Lenore Coffelt, Janis Eastin, Marcia Stephens, Larry McAlpin, Ray Bishop, Donna Duerr, Mary Johnston, and Susan McCleary.  The library should receive his plan by mid-summer, at which point the library trustees and staff will make any changes they feel necessary to be sent back to him.  After this, the library will determine what three main priorities they want to pursue going forward.  The main concerns the library is trying to manage presently is advancement of technology, materials for checkout, handicap accessibility, and space allocation for children and adult libraries.

            When the community members at the meeting were asked how the library could improve their services there were numerous ideas and concerns expressed.  One of the biggest issues people noticed in our library was its lack of organization.  At this point our library hasn’t updated to a computerized circulation system, and their online card catalog is rarely updated.  Many other involved parents communicated concerns about how inviting the library was, and felt that more could be done to establish a more welcoming and fun environment for their kids.  There was also some discussion by community members as to whether we should consider relocating the library, or whether it would be in our best interest to improve what we already have now.  Other attendees addressed an interested in a genealogy department with family histories as well as some other local history.  There was also discussion about a possible tutoring program, and after school activities during teacher inservice days for students to attend.

            Library Director, Darlene Richardson, also conducted twelve interviews with high school and elementary students, as well as other community members throughout the day at the courthouse.  “The interviews exceeded my expectation.” said Richardson, “The community members all had great ideas.”  Angie Jensen, Executive Director of the Decatur County Development Corporation, attended these interviews throughout the day with Darlene and has had extensive conversation with the library about its future.  “I thought the interviews went well, there were a lot of ideas brought to the table about which direction the library should take in the future.” stated Angie, “Collaboration between the Library board, City of Leon, and the citizens should make for a bright future with possible new services and improvements to existing ones.”