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Booth Library Director Listens As Patrons Talk; Additional Sessions Added For Late August

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C.H. Booth Library Director Doug Lord spent July listening to what many others had to say.

Mr Lord scheduled a half dozen “Listening Sessions” at the Main Street institution, inviting residents and patrons to offer their thoughts on what the town’s library has to offer. Two more sessions have been added to the calendar for August.

Mr Lord said this “was a small effort,” with a goal to “see how things would go, see what people want to do, and how they wanted to interact with me.”

He had hoped to learn what people are concerned about, he added.

Among his first thoughts while reflecting on the sessions: “People are very interested and care about the library.” Concerns were also specific.

“Someone might be concerned about parking...someone else might be focused on children’s programs,” he said.

Offering an overall impression, he said, “It’s impressive to me, and it’s nice to see people who care and who are willing to be open to providing feedback.” He found the sessions “very refreshing and there are a lot of people who really care. It’s special.”

He is impressed, he said, by both the library staff and board of directors.

“The board members will take off time from work to come to a meeting,” Mr Lord said. “That’s incredible to me. There are a lot of blessings in this town.”

Patrons are “interested in growth and how they see the library improving, but also want to see the library remain stable. It’s good to know,” Mr Lord said.

He mentioned “certain rooms that we won’t touch because they contain such a traditional feel of library.” Those areas include the first room on right off the main entrance, which is the periodicals room, he said.

The library needs to be a reflection of the community, he said. “It’s not what I want, it’s for taxpayers,” he added.

“Nothing in particular is going to change” following the Listening Sessions, he said. But small adjustments are planned.

Referring to the building’s lower hallway, with entrances from the southern side of the building and the rear parking lot, Mr Lord said, “There is nothing telling you it’s a library. It’s in the mix of things to improve, make it more welcoming.”

He thought new lighting, for example, could brighten the space. He sees other options for the hallway.

“Art on the walls, or best sellers” could be on display there.

“Open+” is a feature he is considering. “It could turn the lower hallway into self-service — the rest of the library may be closed, but [the lower hall] doors could be accessible with a library card. That’s an idea down the road,” he said.

According tobibliotheca.com, “open+ is a comprehensive system that allows libraries to provide more flexible hours, making them more accessible to the community.” Open+ could add additional morning and evening hours, create a hold, pick-up room, and offer access to a section of the library.

“Libraries are always at a crossroads,” as people’s interests and means to access things change,” Mr Lord said. “We are exploring more electronic content, so people don’t have to come to the building for services.”

The library’s digital circulation “is up,” he said. “A strong minority uses it, like e-books, downloading movies.” Those electronics are all available through the library, he said.

Accessible through a phone application is audio, TV, and e-books, “and we are exploring more as it becomes available,” the library director said.

Despite the popularity of electronic files, he said, “Often people come in and it’s a treat to get a new book and get away form the screen and being plugged in.”

Whether serving traditional or newer needs, Mr Lord said, “It’s nice to be a different type of resource for different patrons.”

Regarding short-term goals, Mr Lord considered areas of the third floor for small office space. This could serve as a small office or one-on-one tutoring “with a little more privacy.

“We envision wireless and Bluetooth — everything — you won’t need to bring anything, it will all be right there. Such a space could serve stay-at-home business people, for example,” he said.

While originally scheduled for six sessions, two additional Listening Sessions have been added to the library’s calendar. Residents are invited to offer their thoughts on Wednesday, August 21, at 6 pm, and Monday, August 26, at 4 pm.

Registration is requested, but not required, and can be done by calling 203-426-4533 or online at chboothlibrary.org. Light refreshments will be served at each.

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