Best Place in Town!

By John

Where’s the best place to catch a “FREE movie, or to enjoy a “FREE concert? How about the best place to whet your appetite for a little action on the internet,  or quench your thirst by reading another wild, exotic, action packed adventure! How about a place to do that last minute studying with a buddy? Did I mention a cool relaxing environment to take a breather from the hectic pace, and this heat wave? That’s right, I’m talking about our local library.

For the last six months the FRL IT Services department has been visiting each of the local libraries. Mind you it wasn’t for catching a movie, although the Hudson Library’s newly renovated program room has the primo setup for it. We couldn’t help but peek in on some banjo picking and fiddle playing happening in Macon County Public Library’s meeting room. Some of our best lunch hours were spent just relaxing and watching the critters in, on, and around the pond while we sat in the quiet, peaceful “friendship garden” of the Cashiers Community Library. Marianna Black Library has the largest playroom, even if it’s called the “Auditorium” where we spent several of our lunches playing video games! Nantahala Community Library, where we’ve had to get up against walls to get out of the way of the patrons. For such a small library, it seems to be the hub of activity for that community.  Recently we’ve enjoyed our lunches on the balcony of the NEW Jackson County Public Library enjoying the vista of Pinnacle, and for today, listening to a live jazz ensemble performance.

Well, enough of what we’ve done during our lunch periods. What we’ve done during our work hours has had just a profound impact as all the events we’ve encompassed. The end result is using new technological capabilities to enhance the services to our patrons in all our libraries, large and small. To bring that service, available at one library to all our libraries, old and new.  Each of our libraries can now provide our patrons with the same computer time and reservation system, the same print management system, the same wireless laptops and netbooks, and the same wireless printing capability for their laptop. Other than the physical location and size of our libraries, our patrons will find little difference other than the personal touches of that community.

But let’s give credit where the credit is really due. All the planning involved with this humungous project was dependent upon our library staff. Which library in particular? All of them, from their technical services staff, reference and adult services staff, to their circulation and youth services staff, to the folks in some mystical place called “headquarters” land of automation, outreach, finance, human resources, and cataloging services. It was their ideas, suggestions, and comments that created the fuel for the fire, the lumber for the building. As with any large group of people with many voices trying to be heard at one time, a consultant was brought in to refine those ideas into a framework of goals and strategies for our IT Technology plan. From this plan we’ve been focusing on each and every goal and strategy to get to the point of starting this project.  It has taken us the last ten months of preparation to run cables, put together and configure networks, servers, access points, wireless gateways, and mobile computers to the implementation of all those pieces and then working out the little bugs at each library to finally say the project is complete. From the IT Services department we thank you, because it’s with your involvement that our libraries are indeed the best place in town!