Connecting your Community and Library by Blythe Schubert

You may know us by our SEO cargo designations: KLS, KLC, & KLK. Kate Love Simpson-Morgan County Library is the only library system in Morgan County, population 15,000 people with one school system and a busy fleet of yellow school buses.

Yes, our library is one of many small Ohio libraries, but being geographically isolated provides us with additional challenges and opportunities.  Both our libraries are community centers, providing free wireless internet access, a vital service in a county with huge black holes in broadband coverage.

One of our challenges is lack of staff to do all the varied chores, perform all the functions, and provide those vital extra services our library patrons need and expect.

Fortunately, our small, closely-knit community and our knowledge of willing volunteers and experts have helped us make up for this challenge.  

When we successfully applied for a Connect Ohio grant for 20 new computers, we realized that simply unpacking and setting up these computers would take hours and hours. I called a Morgan High School Electronics and Networking instructor for help. He was delighted to bring 22 students to our library for a community service project.

Not only did these high school seniors have our 20 computers unpacked and up and running, they had all of the cardboard boxes collapsed and in our recycling area.  The county newspaper took pictures and featured a half-page article about our seniors and our library’s new computer training program.

Our library patrons requested computer classes in Microsoft Excel and Photo Editing. Once again I looked toward the high school. The Computer Technology instructor was happy to earn a little extra money and had the required skills. Problem solved.

We pay to have our grass mowed.  Finding the time and money for other landscaping chores is not necessary.  The local Master Gardner chapter and one very dedicated volunteer prune, water, plant flowers and keep us looking sharp.  The senior Agricultural class recently planted a red, white and blue bed of flowers honoring our Rotary Veterans Walk of Honor at the library as a class project. Volunteers power many libraries, small and large.

When we reformatted and redecorated our children’s area, we wanted to add some artwork to set off the rather severe walls.  You guessed it. I got in touch with the high school art teacher for advice.  Three sophomore art students volunteered to create a 28 foot mural, painted on 4-foot panels, so that they could work at the high school.  Carpentry students helped reinforce the stretched canvas.

This year we hope to add elementary school and junior high art work on the opposite wall.

Morgan County folks know us as the “heart and soul of the community.”  Having community members and school children performing needed library tasks gives Morgan County ownership of their libraries, a shared source of pride and service.

 

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