Lamar library system named state Library Star for second year

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The library systems in Lamar County and in Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County were singled out for their performances during fiscal year 2016 and named Mississippi Library Stars for the second consecutive year.

Twelve libraries across the state were recognized in four spending categories on the basis of visits per capita, circulation per capita, total program attendance per capita and public Internet terminal uses per capita. Lamar County was honored in the $600,001-$1 million expenditure category, while Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County is in the $1 million and above division.

Phillip Carter, director of the Lamar County Library System, said wireless activities have grown in the libraries of Sumrall, Purvis, Oak Grove and Lumberton.

“Nowadays, wireless devices are affordable,” he said. “Almost everybody has one. Our computer use hasn’t declined, but it has sort of leveled as wireless use has climbed dramatically. We are seeing more public Internet usage, but it is not always in the traditional computer sense. People are using their phones and other devices.”

So Carter decided to beef up the library’s wireless capabilities.

“That has prompted us as we go through the next fiscal year because we have received a grant to put in printing from wireless devices,” he said. “Previously, people had to sit down at a computer and we were constantly telling them they had to email the document to themselves, then download it and send it to the printer. Now we have received a grant and we are going to start the process in October of allowing people to send the file to the print management center. They have to download a little app on their device.”

Carter said he also plans to upgrade the wireless infrastructure to improve its stability. He added that the Lamar County Library System is also reaching out to bring in more patrons.

“We are actually passing registration forms for library cards to every third- through sixth-grader in the Lamar County School District,” he said. “That’s almost 3,300 forms. The forms are not only for the child – yes, we want them to have a card – but the way we are set up requires that a parent have a card so the child can have a card. It is a form that the whole family can sign up. We’re going to be mailing cards to them.”

Sean Farrell, director of the Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County Library System, said he appreciates the local support.

“I have talked with Phillip about this and we are both blessed to have such good communities that support us,” he said. “We find our success with us, the users and the local government all working together.”

Farrell said the strength of the Internet is important to his libraries.

“I don’t know of any library in the state that has as fast an Internet connection that we do,” he said. “We have a full gigabyte in the Hattiesburg library and we are at 200 megabytes in Petal.”

The library directors in Lamar County and Hattiesburg work together for the entire region, Farrell said.

“A lot of people don’t understand that there are two library systems and that’s good,” he said. “We are able to help each other and it just makes us stronger in the Pine Belt.”

The concept of Library Stars comes from the national professional magazine, Library Journal.  The publication separates library systems into categories by expenditure categories that are reported on the annual Public Library Statistics report that is submitted to the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

While Mississippi does not currently have any national Library Journal Library Stars, MLC has awarded Mississippi Library Stars to the best-scoring libraries in this state, recognizing the three highest-scoring library systems in each of four expenditure categories. Mississippi Library Stars were awarded to the following libraries for their performance in FY 2016:

•          $50,000-$300,000 Expenditure Category: Sharkey-Issaquena Library System, Harriette Person Memorial Library (Port Gibson) and Marks-Quitman County Library.

•          $300,001-$600,000 Expenditure Category: Waynesboro-Wayne County Library System, Starkville-Oktibbeha County Library System and Carnegie Public Library of Clarksdale and Coahoma County.

•          $600,001-$1 million Expenditure Category: Lamar County Library System, Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System and Dixie Regional Library System.

•          $1 million-plus Expenditure Category: The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal & Forrest County,  First Regional Library System (serving Desoto, Lafayette, Panola, Tate and Tunica counties) and Jackson-George Regional Library System.

The winning libraries received a certificate and a Mississippi Star Library star to feature on their website.  For more information on the Mississippi Star libraries, contact Tracy Carr, MLC Library Services Director at tcarr@mlc.lib.ms.us.

The Mississippi Library Commission supports innovative programs and initiatives to strengthen and enhance library services for all Mississippians.  The agency is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, with additional funding provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, offering leadership in library services, advocacy and training for library professionals and paraprofessionals.

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