Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Researchers, be warned

Recent changes at the Chariton Public Library are affecting, at the moment, access to the Lucas County Genealogical Society's excellent historical/genealogical collection housed in two small rooms on the library's lower level. Until now, the research rooms have been freely accessible to everyone during regular library hours, but access has quite recently become more of a challenge.

I've not worked up enough courage to go the public library during the last couple of weeks to see the effects of changes that have taken place, so this is mostly a report based on strategizing we did at a genealogical society meeting last night in an effort to keep the collection user-friendly.

Essentially, the library staff and trustees have decided it's no longer possible to staff the lower level of the library, most significantly the Allender Music Room. This wonderful space, occupying the largest portion of the ground floor of the original library building, has been in place since the 1960s when it was developed in part with proceeds from the estates of Mr. and Mrs. Will Allender.

 In it's time, this probably was among the finest resource of its type in Iowa's smaller public libraries and has over the years transitioned from vinyl to music and audio books on CD, a collection of video tapes now becoming rapidly obsolete and films on DVD --- plus related equipment.

Because of the staffing decision, the Allender room now is empty for the first time in 50 years and what remains of the collection has been transferred to an area on the main floor of the library, cleared by condensing books and/or tagging them for disposal.

"Crime-scene" tape now is in place on the front staircases to the lower level, until locked gates can be installed I understand, and a series of now-locked doors beginning at the north ground-floor foyer entrance to the Allender Room barricades the history/genealogy rooms.

The genealogical society has been invited to move its collection out into the Allender room, and Darlene, Mary Ruth and others have been working at this. The microfilm collection, some books, card catalog, tables, a copier and other items already are there. Much of the local history/genealogy collection will follow. Some items will remain in the former history/genealogy rooms, however, since it's by no means clear this new arrangement will be permanent.

This really is a wonderful space and surely at some point the library will consider expanding rather than contracting its services, logically into the Allender room.

We've gotten kind of spoiled over the years by having the library's inimitable Bonnie Stone and others in place in the Allender Room to serve as gatekeepers for the entire ground floor, but now perhaps need to re-establish a formal schedule of volunteer staffers to keep the north Allender Room doors open during specific regular hours when Darlene, Mary Ruth and other regulars aren't there. We'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, researchers who stop at the library when the doors to the Allender Room are not open must check out keys upstairs, then try to figure out for themselves exactly where the somewhat scattered collection is.

None of these changes have affected how library patrons enter the building. The front doors remain open, as do the more convenient doors from the north-side parking lot which offer access to stairs and elevator, public meeting room, library board room and restrooms.

1 comment:

Mark McVey said...

I need more time in a day... I already want to volunteer time at the museum, but now they are shutting down the music room at the library, and I can't help! I spent the majority of my pre-teen life in the library proper, then I discovered the music room. Through the valiant efforts of the music room staffer, Evelyn Cochran, I weaned myself off of the current popular music and discovered the merits of Classical, no mean feat for the time period! That room is where I discovered a love for music.
How do I do volunteer work at the museum, the library, and help my sister care for my mother? I haven't even made it to the museum to help, yet! Argghhh!