Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
When COVID restrictions were put in place last year, a number of spaces were closed to the public – restaurants, stores, courthouses and city buildings, and the Carter County Public Library.
It came at a very inconvenient time, new interim director Matt Parsons said. Not only had a new director, Christy Boggs, just taken over from veteran librarian Nellie Middleton – Boggs has since moved on to a new job – but with more and more job duties, classes and other events and meetings moving online during the pandemic, those without adequate internet access were often left in the lurch.
“The library is more than just books,” Parsons said.
Internet and computer use at the two branches – for submitting work time sheets, searching for jobs, submitting job applications, and working on resumes, among others – is one of the most popular uses of the library among the public. One reason for this, he noted, is that access to reliable internet isn’t always available; especially in more rural areas of the county. This isn’t just an economic issue, though the poor are the most likely to be impacted. Even those willing and able to pay for broadband internet can’t access it because the communications infrastructure isn’t in place. This leaves people who live in those areas with limited internet options. But, Parsons noted, the library provides internet access to all for free.
It’s one of the areas that Parsons is passionate about expanding with the reopening of the two branches. They’ve already upgraded their broadband service to double their internet speeds at both locations, he said. He’s also looking at adding new programs to help those who might want to use the computer stations at the libraries for different tasks, but aren’t completely comfortable with the technology. These include plans for classes on using the internet for job searches and other tech literacy classes.
They’re also looking at expanding summer reading programs for youth as well as continuing education and enrichment programs for all ages.
You can also, of course, still check out books.
The library is looking at expanding their catalog to provide more options for their most voracious readers. Parsons is exploring grants and other funding sources to help meet the various program goals, but the library is also reaching out directly to the public. They’ve posted a link to an Amazon wishlist on their Facebook page, so those who wish to purchase books directly for the library can do so. They’ve already received several donations through the wishlist, and Parsons expressed his sincere thanks to those who have responded to the library’s call.
The library is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 – 2 on Saturday. They are closed on Sunday and Monday.
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