Webster Parish library wraps up year on high note

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The Webster Parish Library is closing the chapter of 2016 and preparing to for 2017.

“Last year the number of materials system wide was 320,317,” said Beverly Hammett, WPL director. “This year, I anticipate our year-end circulation to be over 336,000.”

With a track record for growth, the library system is set to continue on that path, with plans to expand the Mack Memorial Library in Springhill.

“We will renovate Springhill’s former Walgreen’s building and move the Mack Memorial Branch Library into a larger building with 40 off-street parking spaces,” Hammett said. “We also plan to expand our electronic collection, while keeping up with print publications for people who prefer to hold a ‘real’ book.”

Plans for next year include expanding the system’s digital archive to preserve the past, as well as document the present, with photographs, documents and oral histories.

Next year will also see the beginnings of a search to replace Hammett, who is set to retire in two years.

The library system operated with a $4,453,345 budget this year and brought many services to the community.

Events have included partnering with the Louisiana State Bar Association to host “Lawyers in Libraries” and with the local Northwest Louisiana Legal Aid office to provide information on wills, successions, credit, consumer issues and divorce.

“There were several events where people signed up for free one-on-one legal advice about specific family and civil situations,” Hammett said. ”We also provided computer labs for businesses and other organizations, like the school cafeteria workers, to obtain training and certifications that were essential to their continued employment.”

Hammett said the most successful and well-attended event last year was the summer reading program kick-off party.

“At the Minden party, we had about 200 children attend, not counting parents,” she said. “They enjoyed games, bounce houses, music and food. We couldn’t do all this without the wonderful help provided by the Youth Challenge cadets.”

As of November, the WPL has offered 634 programs with attendance of 12,961.

Public computers were used 52,388 times, with sessions lasting from 10 minutes to six hours.

“Lots of people use the computers to search for jobs and fill out applications, Hammett said, noting all seven branches have wireless access often used by patrons.

Other services include nearly 9,000 pages have been faxed for the public and tens of thousands of copies made. Twenty-three test have been proctored for students taking online classes, and study rooms at Minden and Springhill were used 1,820 times.

Meeting rooms at Minden and Springhill were used 1,034 times and a family computer lab for parents with small children was used 959 times.

Typewriters were used 46 times and microfilm was used 21 times.

Laptops were checked out 230 times and used for entertainment, Microsoft Office software, viewing DVDs, homework, job search/resume and typing tutor.

The WPL provides books and programs for nursing homes, assisted living, adult day care, group homes for the mentally challenged, and pre-school classes.

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