UNION COUNTY — The Union County Carnegie Library has introduced a new system to spread library service across the entire county.
After the library’s Bookmobile driver resigned last summer, that service has not been offered. Library director Ben Loftis said the library and its board of directors was looking for the most cost-effective way of offering such a service.
“Obviously, we’re the library for the county, not just the city,” Loftis said. “So we need to have some way of getting some type of service out to the different communities.”
Loftis said hiring a new Bookmobile driver was out of the library’s price range, and they did not want to take an existing employee out of the library.
Then, at the library board meeting in January, someone mentioned an idea becoming popular in the Midwest — “little free libraries.” These are book containers which resemble birdhouses, from which children and adults can check out and return books without having a library or late fees. Those involved took that idea and enhanced it.
Instead of birdhouse-sized selections, the Friends of the Library donated shelves full of books to go into deposit collections to be placed in Union County’s three municipalities — Jonesville, Lockhart and Carlisle. The books were placed in Lockhart Town Hall on March 13 and in Carlisle Town Hall on March 6. Those involved are still looking for a location for the deposit collection in Jonesville.
“Right now, they’re not cataloged as a typical library book would be,” Loftis said. “They’re available for the public to check out — and hopefully bring back — on the honor system. They don’t have to have a library card or sign anything.”
Loftis said those who check out the books actually have two options.
“They can either take the book out and return that book, or maybe return another book they have in their house they’ve finished reading,” he said. “That helps keep the collection more diverse, and also helps keep it full.”
“We’re trying to get something for everybody — things that we think would be popular, but also make a diverse collection,” Loftis said, adding that he is very appreciative of the communities working with the library. “Right now it’s something we’re just testing out to see what the response will be or see how well it will work.”
Loftis said that although the deposit collections don’t have the same visibility as the Bookmobile, what they do have is longer hours of availability, as they are available for check out during town hall hours.
“The long-long-term goal — years and years down the road maybe — is to kind of have this as the first step toward putting some form of a branch there,” Loftis said. “We’re not in a situation where we can add a branch any time soon, but that’s kind of what my thinking is going into this. It’s at least a very primitive form of a branch.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.