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County’s Libraries Ask Commission For Support

By Staff | Feb 22, 2012

County library representatives met with the Wetzel County Commission on Feb. 15 to thank commissioners for their generosity in years past, update them on library operations, and request continued funding.

Joanna Casto, Paden City Public Library director; Janet Conn, New Martinsville Public Library; and Kathy Eastham, Hundred Public Library Board; extended their gratitude for the commission’s generous donations in the past, while expressing their need for additional funds in the coming year, particularly due to cuts in state funding. Weldon Williams of the Pine Grove Public Library Board was unable to attend the meeting.

Eastham gave her report first on what was new at the Hundred Public Library, to which she said that with the help of two grants the library had installed vinyl fencing around an area of the library. Also, she noted they were able to hire a substitute librarian in addition to a part-time aide.

Conn then shared with the commission how things were going with New Martinsville Public Library. She began by saying that circulation had increased by 10 percent annually, and she believed they were on track for another such increase this year. “We try to be right on top of what’s going on with bigger libraries,” Conn said, adding that they now supply e-books and have offered workshops on how to use e-reading devices.

She went on to talk about snapshot days, wherein libraries are asked to jot down all the things that happen in the library to accurately depict a normal business day. “People think all we do is read,” Conn said as she gave an example of a typical day which includes circulating hundreds of books, assisting patrons with varied tasks, and hosting story time for children. “There’s always something that we’re doing.” She added they have been handing out many income tax forms. Notably, you can only pick up such forms at your local library.

Conn further noted that with the increased traffic in the library she has happily noticed many new families come through the door who have moved here as part of the oil and gas boom in the area.

Casto reiterated much of what Conn shared, and added that thanks to a grant last year they were able to install a drop ceiling in Paden City’s library which has not only reduced noise, but has added up to huge heating and cooling savings. “It has made a world of difference,” she said.

Being a very small library, Casto noted, for them to maintain the same level of programs and services takes funding. Casto shared they also hold story hours, summer reading programs, and that many patrons utilize their computers, printers, fax machine, and the like for various tasks daily. “We try to keep the service level at the best we can, with the money we have,” she said.

While the libraries have been fortunate to receive funds from other sources such as the West Virginia Library Commission, it was learned that funds from that organization will be decreased this year.

The commission was pleased with the news that circulation was up for many of the libraries and that the programs and services offered were being utilized. Following the report, Vice President Bob Gorby asked each of the libraries to submit letters requesting the commission’s financial support, to which those present said they would do.

In another matter, the commission voted to give the American Legion $1,000 to help sponsor five Wetzel County students to Mountaineer Boys State this summer. Jim Davis made the request at the commission’s Feb. 7 meeting.