ST. CLAIRSVILLE The city's public library is reaching out with new and expanded services.
Library Director Richelle Klug invites the public to come in and make use of facilities and programs aimed at every segment of the community.
Klug noted that in the last few years the city's public library has lacked in programming for adults and teens.
Amanda Gossett, new program director at the St. Clairsville Library, addresses new library programs. Librarians are asking for suggestions from the community.
"Our budget has been stretched thin due to recent funding cuts from the state, which left very little money for staffing and supplies and programs," she said. "We've been looking for alternate sources of funding. We have been lucky to receive two separate grants which are being applied to our teen programs."
These include a Library Services and Technology Act Grant provided from by funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library. This has allowed the library to establish a successful teen gaming program in 2010.
The library was recently awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, federally funded in cooperative efforts with the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Belmont College and Ohio University Eastern. The grant focuses on academic enrichment opportunities outside the classroom, aiming to improve standards in core subjects such as math and reading. The five-year grant is about $50,000.
This has also allowed the library to hire Amanda Gossett as program coordinator.
"Her skillset perfectly matches what we needed in this position and her qualifications are very impressive," Klug said. "Amanda is full of ideas and is already hard at work on lots of new teen and adult focused programming."
Gossett began work at the St. Clairsville location this month. She intends to initiate several programs focusing on children and young people with additions such as a young adult book discussion group, an anime club, and a teen advisory board.
"We want them to know it's their space too," she said. "We want the library to be a community gathering place."
She noted that the summer reading program has already shown results.
"We can tell that it has definitely touched the community," Gossett said.
Other additions include composting and recycling classes to demonstrate practical applications of the information offered in the library. Gossett said they were connecting with local experts and businesses who could collaborate with the library to hold presentations. She noted the Martins Ferry Arts Group has expressed an interest in working with them.
The computer classes are also expanding.
Suggestions boxes have been placed in the library, asking for input.
"We're here for the community," said Klug. "We want to find out what the community needs so we can respond."
Recent and expected developments in the oil and gas field has also meant an influx of patronage. Klug said within the last year, the library has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of researchers needing the facilities.
"Our close proximity to the county courthouse, as well as our variety of information and resources, has made the library an ideal location for natural gas researchers."
"The library has seen an unprecedented number of people using electronic devices in the building. The demand for electronic outlets to plug laptops in has skyrocketed, but since the building was constructed in the 1930s, they are in short supply."
She added that the library has updated the current outlets so they can handle increased electrical demand. More patronage is welcome, but the architecture of the building has made updating the wiring prohibitively expensive.
She noted that researchers have doubled the use of wi-fi since 2010 and the library has added a new wireless access point on the second floor. Librarians have also observed a shortage of tables and seating during early to mid-afternoon.
"It has been challenging to accommodate both needs in that space," she said, thanking the St. Clairsville Rotary Club for donations that allowed the addition of three new armchairs. Work continues on making the best use possible of available space.
"We're happy to see the library being used," she said.
"We just want to let our patrons know that we recognize these issues and strive to make our services available to all who need them. We greatly appreciate all of our patrons and we are working toward adapting our facility to accommodate the needs of everyone in our community."
She added that volunteerism, support and donations from the community, as well as spreading word of the library's services to fellow citizens and legislators, are all vital to the future.
Budget cuts of more than 30 percent from the past three years have impacted services, requiring a reduction of staff, program funding, material and supply budgets, as well as funding for technology upgrades.
"That is why community support of the library is so vital. We are trying very hard to come up with cost-saving ideas and thrifty solutions to these budget cuts," she said. "At a time when the community needs us the most for employment help, resources for education, access to computers and the internet, and affordable entertainment, library services are more important than ever. We greatly appreciate all of the support we received from the community help keep our doors open and our valued services available."
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