Library goes more digital, hopes to expand programs

This week is National Library Week, and the celebration is nationwide.

The week was first sponsored in 1958 by the American Library Association. At the Nancy Carson Library the week, it is more about observation than events.

“The whole thing is about raising awareness,” said Barbara Walker, library manager. “One of the things that libraries around the country have noticed is that with the economy, more and more people have been coming to libraries. At the same time, however, more and more funding is being taken from libraries.”

Walker notes that a number of visitors that the library sees are those who are unemployed and looking for work. Through a partnership with S.C. Works, the library has added two job seeker computers, which feature longer time for those who may need to work on resumes and applications.

Thanks to new technology, the library also features some self-checkout stations and a digital library. Users can browse the virtual library and check out copies in seven- and 14-day intervals. Though Walker notes that just like real books, the library has to pay a fee for each virtual copy, and usually the library only has one copy. After the time is up, however, the download becomes available for the next person in the queue, and an email alert is sent out.

The virtual books also allow users to avoid late fees and even save some gas. In an effort to keep up in today’s world, the library has its own website, Facebook page and newsletter that is sent out via email.

“The only downside, like with everyone else, because of your funding being smaller, a lot of it has to go to the digital side,” Walker said. “So that makes things difficult for us to purchase things we need.”

Luckily, the library has its own foundation, the Friends of the Nancy Carson Library, which Walker notes is “extremely supportive.”

“They raise funds and provide so much that we would not be able to have otherwise,” she said. “They provide a lot for our summer reading programs. That’s really helping us keep up a lot of things.”

One of the things Walker and the library have worked on, though it has come to a halt recently due to personnel issues, is an adult literacy program. They hope to get the program going again in the future, and Walker has spoken with North Augusta Gardens, which has also started its own adult literacy program recently.

“Turns out that Sylvia Turner started a program here in North Augusta, and she and I taught at Aiken High with our rooms back-to-back,” Walker said. “We want to work with people who are already doing things in the community, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We try to work with as many organizations as we can.”

The library helps the program with materials, such as dictionaries by donating those of which they have duplicates. They also have started working with Aiken County First Steps through donations of Spanish picture books.

When asked what the message of National Library Week is and what message she wanted the community to know, Walker summed it up very concisely.

“It would be great to see how the library can support them,” she said.