The Pulaski County Public Library Board is sticking to its plans to end most services at the Medaryville branch starting January 1. However, plans call for the books to stay in place and wi-fi access to remain for those near the building until a deal can be reached with a nonprofit group to keep the building open for access to computers and potential programs.
At the library board meeting Wednesday, library officials said they are working on such an agreement, but didn’t identify the organization or give out any more details, since a lease hasn’t been signed. Members of the Pulaski County Council and Commissioners were present at the meeting to voice their support for keeping the library open, and residents Susan and Jim Bergens restated their ideas for keeping library services going in Medaryville. Many of the library’s supporters say its short business hours, small number of programs, and poor advertising for the programs that were offered has caused the low number of patrons.
However, Library Executive Director MacKenzie Ledley said the hours were shortened and programs eliminated when library employees found themselves with little businesses to handle. Ledley also said the library held a focus group in 2012 in an effort to increase patronage, but usage and program participation continued to decline. “Between 2012 and 2014, seven people attended Story Time,” she said. “Fifty people attended Toddler Time. We’ve also had creative drawing classes, making volcanoes, pumpkin pie bake-off, Wrestlemania Reading Challenge, Art with Tiffany, AWE Learning Computer Contest, Local Heroes Community Reception. Darn it Mrs. Bergens, I have not gone down without a fight! But I can’t keep reinventing the wheel.”
Mrs. Bergens has also called for increased use of volunteers to operate the library and offered to help run the library herself. However, Ledley said those plans wouldn’t work under the library’s current operating conditions, which include a lack of liability insurance for volunteers and the requirement that librarians be certified with the state.