Education

Check out what’s new at Chattahoochee Valley Libraries

Charley Whalen, children's library associate with the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, left, demonstrates a Hapi steel tongue drum for Madona Lawindy and her 1-year-old daughter, Elise Lawindy, Monday morning in the Columbus Public Library. Additional instruments available for checkout are part of what’s new this year in the library system.
Charley Whalen, children's library associate with the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, left, demonstrates a Hapi steel tongue drum for Madona Lawindy and her 1-year-old daughter, Elise Lawindy, Monday morning in the Columbus Public Library. Additional instruments available for checkout are part of what’s new this year in the library system. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Folks will flock Saturday to the Columbus Public Library for the fourth annual Columbus Children’s Book Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so this is a good time to be aware of the new stuff in the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries.

Here are some highlights, courtesy of director Alan Harkness in an emailed interview with the Ledger-Enquirer:

Technology

The library system has updated its website to better display program information and schedules, homework and research help, downloading and e-resources “and, of course, helping readers find books,” Harkness said.

The children’s e-book collection has been upgraded, costing $10,000 this fiscal year to double the content available through TumbleBooks. The Toronto-based company’s animated talking books are designed to teach children the joy of reading in an engaging format. Existing picture books are used to make e-books by adding animation, sound, music and narration.

The upgrade also means the children’s e-book collection is more accessible. Muscogee County School District elementary schools have been connected to the network, so students may get their TumbleBooks through their school’s media centers and computer labs in addition to their home or anywhere they have Internet access and their library card available.

A $5,000 expenditure this fiscal year gives library users access to ComicsPlus, a digital collection of more than 16,000 comic books distributed by iVerse Media of Austin, Texas. This e-resource is available now for iPhones and iPads; access for Android devices is coming, Harkness said.

Parents and guardians can choose which age-level comics they want their children to be allowed to read.

“It’s really overwhelming, the number of choices, but I really like this for reluctant readers, teens and some adults,” Harkness said.

The library system is updating its 11-year-old self-check system for borrowing materials, renewing them and paying fines.

“Most visible are the new inventory control gates, which we see in all types of retail settings, and will better protect our books and other materials,” Harkness said.

Most of the $275,000 expenditure will come from the library system’s reserve fund and $50,000 of it will come from revenue generated by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that Muscogee County voters approved in 1999, Harkness said. The Norcross, Ga., office of multinational Bibliotheca is the vendor that won the bid, he said.

This fall, the system is scheduled to launch a new e-card service. This will allow folks to register for a library card online, instead of only in person, and immediately gain access to all of the system’s electronic resources. The new service will cost $2,500 per year, Harkness said.

Facility

The second floor of the Columbus Public Library, the main branch of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries on Macon Road, is being reorganized. New computers and furniture will increase capacity by 50 percent and decrease the amount of time patrons must wait for a computer to be available, Harkness said. The service desk is moving to a more convenient location, he said.

“Before, computers, staff and equipment were each in separate rooms on the second floor, but will come together in one space right off the elevator,” he said. “This makes service more efficient for our customers and less running back and forth for staff.”

The renovation work is scheduled to start the week of Oct. 17, when a portion of the second floor, adjacent to the elevator, is expected to be roped off for about a week, Harkness said.

“It’ll be of minimal inconvenience in that area as right now it’s just a big open space,” Harkness said.

More of an inconvenience will be the closure of the two Synovus/CB&T meetings rooms on the first floor for “a couple of weeks” because the construction crew must “access that area from scaffolding on the first floor to make it work on the second,” Harkness said.

The project, costing approximately $65,000, will be covered by reserve funds set aside for renovations, Harkness said. It’s part of the library system’s effort to keep pace with increased usage.

“Programming attendance, including the Children’s Book Festival, is up over 50 percent in the past three years,” he said. “Foot traffic at the Columbus Public Library was up over 10 percent last year, and most of our electronic resources were up by double digits as well. We hope to keep bringing the programming, services and books that people want.”

Materials

The system is using a $15,000 grant from the state library system to buy additional musical instruments for checkout, preschool backpacks with literature-based programming material and expansion of the FIRST LEGO League Jr. program.

“We’re going from five teams to 15 this year,” Harkness said, “and hope to add 10 MCSD schools to the mix.”

Personnel

Thanks to funding from the Muscogee County Library Foundation, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries has added the position of children’s outreach specialist.

The system’s programming already reaches more than 100 locations, Harkness said. The new position will help “expand our focus on early childhood literacy, promoting school readiness for kids before preschool,” he said.

Greta Browder was hired to fill the position. She was a part-time assistant in the Aflac Children’s Department at the main library. She has a master’s degree in education and is a former reading teacher, Harkness said.

IF YOU GO

What: Fourth annual Columbus Children’s Book Festival

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road

Who: Nationally known writers of children’s and teen books, as well as illustrators and entertainers.

Cost: Free admission and autograph sessions. Food and beverages for sale.

More info: Click here for the festival’s complete schedule.

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