If Carolyn Poole, the county's new director of libraries, was looking for a challenge, she found it. Undaunted however, Poole said her aim is to move the county forward.
"This is a hard economic time. My budget was cut 30 percent and there is no money in the county's budget to buy new books," said the former Hillsborough County librarian.
On the bright side, Poole is anticipating the delivery of a new $200,000 bookmobile that will be equipped with a pull-out canopy for displays, computers and wireless access.
In addition to the regular routes, Poole wants to add more routes to cover more of the county. The public will get to see the new bookmobile during the annual Christmas parade.
Inside the main library, Poole has lots of changes in mind but most will have to wait until the county increases her budget.
"Because of the paperwork of getting reports out and working with the budget I haven't have much of a chance to inventory what's here but I have found that the average copyright of books here is 1971. We have to do something about that. Luckily, we have some very generous people here who buy a book, read it and donate it," she said.
Poole is also pleased that the county was able to get new libraries. The state, she said, isn't funding for new construction.
"Gadsden County was very lucky they got new facilities when they did because the state is not funding construction right now. But we have to maintain what we have and that's going to be a problem because we have lost out janitorial service," Poole said.
The library is one of the most frequented public places owned by the county and she is concerned that, with flu season underway, germs will be easily passed in a facility that is not cleaned regularly.
Poole worries that the room that gets most of the use, the computer room, may help spread germs. When funds are available, her plan is to remove the carpet, which is already badly soiled, and replace it. The need for more computer space is on Poole's mind, too.
"The computer room is always full. People sometimes have to wait for long periods of time use a computer. To make more space I took out the tables and lined the computers up around the wall which has helped a little," she said.
The county is going to need more computers when the Florida Electronic Library becomes available. The new library will have 50-60 data bases. Poole said it will be great for homework, browsing, videos, books and audio.
For a woman who says she likes all things technical, the electronic library and the information it will afford library patrons is a dream come true. But before the county gets on the super highway of technology through computers, Poole wants to make sure that anyone under 17 years of age and using library computers takes a course in cyber safety.
"There is a real need for cyber safety training. We have people who spend 8 hours using computers and I worry. The Attorney General's office has a cyber training seminar for young people that I want to access," she said.
That is just the tip of the iceberg of what Poole has on the drawing board. She is ready and excited about Gadsden County and where the library system can go under her leadership.
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