Busy, busy at libraries

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It doesn’t take a lot to be a member of a public library.

A simple ID showing your current address and a small fee, normally $1.50, will get you a library card, which in return gives you access to thousands of books and even the Internet. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the amount of traffic at the local public libraries.

People have been exercising their minds a little more as bad economic times have led them to reading books for entertainment.

“With the price of gas going up for a while and the current economic conditions, people are looking for entertainment they can afford. Coming into the library and checking out a book or using the public Internet access is a simple way they can keep entertaining themselves,” said Chilton-Clanton Public Library director Jo Abernathy.

Abernathy said her library is checking in and out at least 300 books a day. She added that this was a very large increase of usage over the past couple of years.

While some people have been venturing into the library to entertain themselves with books, others have been flocking to the library in hopes of using the Internet. Abernathy said the library has a lot of visitors who come in and use the computers.

“There is hardly ever a computer open. In fact, it is most often a rare case that we see less than one person on the waiting list for a computer,” she said.

Due to the amount of people who visit the Chilton-Clanton Public Library now, the director had to have a time management program on their computers to help keep the amount of time a person can use a computer exact.

“We were having a hard time keeping up with everybody, and with such a long waiting list, there was just no way we could watch everyone,” Abernathy said. “With the time management system, you have to have a code to use the computer. When your time is up, then the computer will cut you off. This new system has really helped us out to make sure that we are fair to everyone.”

The libraries may be doing better during these bad economic times; however, they are still having their own problems.

Proration hit most libraries hard because without the proper amount of money they can’t purchase anything new, including new equipment and books.

“We try to keep up with all of the schools and new trends, but we might not be able to keep up or do as much if the results of this proration prove too unsupportive,” she said. “If we are going to continue to grow and be here for the people who need us, then we are going to need the support of our whole community.”