Bi-Monthly Report of the County Librarian

October-November 2005


Circulation, though slightly lower in November, remains good for the system
as a whole. In the first two months of the year, over 18,000 were loaned by
the public libraries of the county. Over 1200 reference interactions have
taken place (with an increase in telephone reference requests), and 26 items
have been loaned between the libraries of the county. Over 300 new
memberships have been accepted during the first two months of the year.

Over 3,000 persons used public access computers in the public libraries
during this reporting period. This is exceptionally high. We regularly have
persons waiting in line at the Central Library for a computer; despite the
fact two additional public stations were added in October. We fully expect
this trend to continue. At least 5 additional public computer stations are
badly needed at the Central Library, as well as the space to put them in!
Ideally, the library would have computer laboratory space, but that cannot
be accommodated with the current configuration of the Central Library. It
appears that we may be forced into closing the Library Conference Room in
the coming months to accommodate growth. We have long been at a point where
we have to weigh one public service over another in terms of allowing space,
but the problem is growing more and more critical where, as with the case of
the Conference Room, once service has to be sacrificed for another.

To get a more realistic picture of actual library visitors, steps have been
taken towards ordering of a people counter to be installed at the Central
Library. I believe that, by the end of December, we will have some
interesting statistics to provide to the Board.

Several staff members were provided training in various reference services
by the staff of the Public Services Division, particularly new employees and
those reassigned/promoted to positions where they would need such training.
Misses Shellhouse and Coleman are also working on assessments of the
Reference Collections of the branch and member libraries to insure adequacy
towards meeting state library standards and to plan collection development
and grant activities in the coming two years.

We are still receiving numerous compliments on CamelliaNet, the statewide
consortia for shared downloadable audio books from library users. We have
even had persons from as far away as Montgomery come to Cullman to join our
library (paying the out-of-county fees) to obtain access to these
collections. The Hoover Public Library has now joined CamelliaNet, bringing
the total number of libraries in the consortia to four. The Tuscaloosa
Public Library is still studying joining the network.

Public fax service continues to grow in popularity, bring in a few dollars
of profits for the system. Miss Shellhouse is reporting that the library is
now providing this service roughly 10 times per month.


Mr. Hand reports 899 volumes added to the collections during the reporting
period, in addition to other tasks accomplished by the Technical Services

Mr. Hand and I spent a good deal of the end of November (and continue in)
working with Book Systems in the development of software to meet our service
needs and troubleshooting problems with the Atriuum integrated library
system. Many of these are long-term issues which we directed Book Systems
to put on hold until they completed the migration of the city and county
school systems into the Atriuum network. Now that this has been
accomplished, we're getting back to work.

Speaking of technology, I learned in Montgomery in October of future grants
coming to the county's libraries from the Gates Library Foundation and from
the Beaumont Foundation. The Gates Foundation will be providing funding to
Cullman County in the course of the coming twelve months for the
replacement/addition of ten public access computers, in addition to
extensive training which will be provided by the state library and funded by
Gates. The Beaumont Foundation will be providing additional technological
resources to the county's libraries in the coming months as well.

Mr. Ken Walling continues to serve the Library System as our IT specialist
despite his promotion within the county. Ken met with IT staff of the state
library during the reporting period to demonstrate our networks and services
to them. With their guidance, Ken was able to reconfigure a few sections of
the internal network at the Central Library to better serve clients, and
clear up some minor network issues we had for years.

Ken has also completed upgrades to battery backup of our internal network
server, and has completed plans for the addition of Wi-Fi Internet hotspot
service at the Hanceville and Fairview libraries. My goal is to be the first
public library system in the state to provide Wi-Fi hotspots at ALL service
outlets. As you will recall, CCPLS, was the third library in the state and
the second public library to offer Wi-Fi hotspots. We have numerous users of
this service each week at the Central Library, including persons who park
outside the building and access high-speed Internet after hours.

Plans are to add a LED projector in the coming weeks to facilitate computer
training and presentations about library services.

Mr. Rich Partain with the County's Economic Development Department continues
to do a fantastic job in maintaining the library's web presence, despite his
multitude of duties with that department. We constantly receive compliments
on the look and feel of During this reporting period, Mr.
Partain added the "Holly Pond Heritage Pages" back to the site, detailing
the history and genealogy of that community. He is also always available for
advice and consultation for the library system on technical issues (in
addition to being a regular library user).

Mr. Hand continues to maintain a tight stance with the Schools and Libraries
Corporation, the federal corporation that provides us with e-rate discounts
on telecommunications services. During this reporting period, Mr. Hand
completed many required forms for funding in the coming year. Through his
efforts, I would estimate we save approximately $6,000 to $10,000 on
telecommunications services for our libraries. There are many services we
could not provide without these discounts.

Mrs. Waldrep continues to operate the Circulation/Membership Department with
a firm hand. Policies have been changed by the Board allowing for an
increase in the check out periods for DVDs, and she has quickly implemented
this change to the delight of many library users. We continue to study how
this impacts circulation.


We're back on the road!

At long last, the Cullman County Bookmobile began service on a limited basis
in October and will slowly grow over the coming months as stops are added
and service contacts are made again. After being off the road for over three
years, we are basically starting from scratch in developing this service.
However, circulation is steadily climbing, with 59 items being loaned in
October and 119 items being loaned in November.

Ms. McCullar resigned from her post as Extension Services Coordinator on the
bookmobile in early November and Mr. Weissend of the Central Library's
Circulation Department was placed into this position on a temporary basis.
Mr. Weissend immediately began work on publicity (even putting the unit in
the County's Christmas Parade in November) and making contacts with our
resources persons at each particular stop. He also began work on procedural
guidelines, daily safety checklists, and other administrative tasks related
to beginning this service. I credit much of the November increase in
bookmobile circulation to his hard work. Steps will be taken in December to
fill this vacancy permanently.

Five staff members were given training in safe operations of the bookmobile
during November so that there will always be back-up drivers available. Mr.
Mark Townson, husband of Mrs. Sharon Townson, is a truck driver and holds a
commercial drivers license and was hired by the Library System to provide
this training. Mr. Townson worked cooperatively with the safety department
of American Proteins, Inc. and the County's Safety Department to obtain
resources for this training. The County Safety Department was very pleased
that we conducted this training, as it will likely help the county lower its
insurance premiums.

The "Raising Readers" service continues to be well used by area day care
facilities and Head Start programs. The van, in addition to providing
thematic programming kits in these facilities, also provides story time
programs in such venues. In the first reporting period this fiscal year
alone, over 750 at-risk children received encouragement in reading and
educational programming from the service.

Branch circulation, with the exceptions of Crane Hill and Colony remains
healthy. The Fairview library loaned 109 items in November, Hanceville 262
and Garden City 215.

Staffing issues continue to plague branch libraries. Mrs. King at Hanceville
will be forced to retire at the end of the year due to NARCOG certification
guidelines, and Ms. Sandlin has announced she plans to step down at Crane
Hill by the end of the year. We believe we can fill the Hanceville post
relatively quickly, but may once again be faced with closing the doors at
Crane Hill.

The Hanceville and Garden City libraries are benefiting from CCPLS's
partnership with the Foster Grandparents Program of the Community Action
Agency of North Alabama. Mrs. Ovie Love, a Foster Grandparent, works several
days a week with children at the Hanceville Library. Mrs. Love also spends
one day at the Garden City Library. The inter-generational program brings
children and senior citizens together, benefiting all concerned.and helps us
meet our programming needs in the branch libraries. The Fairview Library has
enjoyed the services of a Foster Grandparent for over a year, and the
Central Library has periodically enjoyed their services. Miss Coleman of
the Library staff serves on the Foster Grandparents Advisory Board and Mrs.
Margaret Wiley, former head of Youth Services for CCPLS now coordinates the
program for Community Action in Cullman and Lawrence Counties.


The artwork of Cullman podiatrist Steven Grunfeld is on display at "The
Gallery at the Library" through December.

A program on caving was held in conjunction with the Cullman Grotto of the
National Speleological Society in November. Despite excellent publicity,
only 6 persons attended.

In October, Mr. Hand and I attended the bi-monthly "Refugee Librarians"
lunch, held in Athens this period. This is a group of CEOs and upper
leadership of seven North Alabama public libraries that have left the
Library Management Network. We meet for lunch every other month, taking
turns in hosting, and discuss what and how our libraries are doing, mutual
concerns related to LMN, and state policy issues. In the October meeting,
the idea of a regional reading program was discussed. We hope to organize
and implement an adult "One community-One book" reading program across our
seven counties. The discussion led to a grant writer in the Florence area
being contacted to work on grant paperwork for a state Arts Council grant to
underwrite this programming effort. If we can pull it off, we believe it
will be the largest (geographically) "One Community-One Book" program in the
nation held since the American Library Association began promoting such
programming several years ago. We hope to encourage reading of a work by
Alabama authors Rick Bragg or Cassandra King.

CCPLS worked cooperatively with five other Alabama libraries and the Alabama
Public Library Service for the second year in a row trying to bring the
" Primetime Family Reading" program to Alabama through a grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Alabama Library Association.
This project brings high-risk youth and their families into public libraries
for reading discussions and programs. For the second year in a row, Alabama
was not chosen for this project despite our best efforts. According to APLS,
we will try again next year.

I provided a presentation for the North Central Alabama Genealogical Society
in mid-November on genealogical research at the Central Library with 20
persons attending.

Miss Coleman and Mrs. Townson were dispatched to Huntsville's library to
participate in that library's book club programs. Plans are to replicate
such clubs in Cullman County in the coming 12 months.

HomeworkAlabama.Org continues to be popular with area students, and CCPLS is
doing its part to publicize and promote this after school homework help
service. Mrs. Townson spent three full days at Hanceville Middle School
providing training to students on this service. Statewide,
HomeworkAlabama.Org has far surpassed usage expectations. Over 40,000
sessions with students have been logged, far more than was expected over the
course of the year. Locally, both school superintendents constantly mention
HomeworkAlabama.Org and thank me for what it is doing for their students.
Dr. Harris with the city school system even included usage statistics in her
weekly newsletter for her faculty and staff. This educational outreach is
providing extensive positive p.r. for both CCPLS and the state library.

Tours were conducted at the Central Library for six elementary school groups
and two different scout groups, including the Hispanic Boy Scout group who
received instruction in how to use the library. This tour attendance of over
400 can be attributed to the "Services for Schools and Teachers" webpage
launched on our website in August and extensive marketing of our services to
teachers in the summer. Eventually this work will lead to increased interest
in the Library System by area students (and greater appreciation for the
library by future taxpayers).

Central Library story hour attendance remains low, but steady. Over 900
children took part in library programs during the period, with 2042 children
attending programs countywide. Over 400 were program attendees through the
" Raising Readers" program. Over 80 children did attend the Halloween
afternoon program at the Central Library alone.


Your county library system continues to be a leader of libraries, both
within the state and nationally. This reputation for excellence is something
we have earned over a decade of hard work on the part of our professional
staff and employees.

During the period, I attended the quarterly Administrators Meeting at the
Alabama Public Library Service, where I learned of the recommended
" Certified Public Manager" training offered to administrators by Auburn
University at Montgomery and recommended by APLS. The Board, in its
foresight, has provided for me to attend this training and obtain this
certification over the course of the next two years.

Mrs. Townson continues to serve as Chairperson of the Children's and Schools
Division of the Alabama Library Association; and I continue to serve as the
Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of the Public Library Division. In short, CCPLS
employees are in charge of two of the three divisions of our state library
association. Both of us have worked hard during this reporting period on the
planning of training programs for the Alabama Library Association Conference
to be held in Florence in April 2006.

Congratulations to Mrs. Townson! The state library has approved her
scholarship for graduate school for another 12 months. Mrs. Townson is
expecting to complete her Master of Library and Information Science degree
from the University of Alabama in May. We are very proud of her hard work.
At the end of the summer term, she had a 3.57 (B+) grade point average. Mr.
Hand and I are slightly jealous - hers is higher than ours was! We expect
Mr. Weissend to begin Library School in the coming 12 months.

I continued to provide assistance to the Blountsville Public Library in the
administration of their LSTA grant for technology; and Mrs. Townson
regularly consulted with day care facilities on services to children during
the reporting period. I am also working closely as a paid consultant with a
new specialty vehicle company on the side, planning bookmobiles and
emergency command post vehicles. This work is also bringing recognition to
the library system.

In the wake of hurricanes and tornadoes which have damaged or destroyed
several Alabama public libraries in the past several years (including the
tornado which severally damaged the Bevill Branch Library here in Cullman
County in 1998), the Alabama Public Library Service has initiated a Disaster
Planning Committee to provide training, policy guidance, and public
relations support to Alabama's libraries. I was asked to serve on this
committee, and was elected Chair in our first meeting in November. Mr. Hand
is serving on a subcommittee of this group working on opening-day reference
collection standards.

Mr. Hand is working closely with officials of the state library in
implementation of the new OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) WorldCat
system that is providing OCLC services to all Alabama public libraries. This
work is an extension of his service as a STARS Interlibrary loan system
trainer for the state. The state is placing the holdings of all Alabama
public libraries (with the exception of those who remain with LMN) into the
international OCLC cataloging system. Likewise, we will be able to borrow
MARC cataloging records from any library around the world participating in
OCLC, as well as share our records.

Such exciting work for such a small library system!

Respectfully submitted,

John Paul Myrick, MLS
County Librarian/Chief Executive Officer