Sometimes you just have to throw away a book. Sounds harsh, yes?
In your home library, when bookshelves begin to overflow, you need to make space for enticing new titles.
Who wants to read that volume that went swimming at the beach or the one that is falling apart? It’s time to weed your collection.
The Charleston County Public Library Board of Trustees realizes there are those who do not understand what your library is doing with our collection of 1.5 million items and with our building spaces. We hope to allay the misperception that we are just tossing books haphazardly. This is hardly the case.
Culling of materials that are outdated, unused or in poor condition, something required by every library, had not been done at CCPL for 15 years. Books that may have historical significance or are last copies are carefully screened by the Collection Development Department before they are weeded. All items are given to the Friends of the Library to be sold or donated to area nonprofits; unsalvageable materials are recycled.
What do you do with your unwanted, but still usable books? Many of you bring them to the library for the Friends of the Library book sales, to benefit us. Your books go to the sorting room to be priced and boxed for a later sale. However, if they are just old, not classic, or the Friends already have 10 copies, they may offer the book for sale online or to one of 50 nonprofits that reuse them. And sometimes — after all other avenues are exhausted — it is necessary to give a book a second life as garden fertilizer through recycling.
As public representatives and library advocates, we take our responsibility very seriously. CCPL is a great system, but the board and staff realize that our services, buildings and technology need updating. The last library strategic plan was done in 2001, and the last major building program was completed in 1992. Since then, the population has exploded and technology has changed the way libraries must do business.
To assist us in looking at our needs and developing long-range plans, we brought in experts to assess, recommend and guide us. We looked at our current services, comparing what we have to best practices and guidelines for 21st Century libraries.
We also heard from hundreds of county residents who attended meetings, responded to telephone surveys, completed web surveys and participated in interviews and focus groups, each sharing their interests, needs and concerns for the future of the library
After months of work, the library’s board adopted a five-year strategic plan that reflects what you want. I invite you to read the plan on the library’s web site — www.ccpl.org — under the About Us tab at the top.
If you are a regular customer, and 75 percent of you are, then you undoubtedly have seen some changes in recent months as we strive to address the needs outlined in the Strategic Plan, including:
¦ More pre-literacy programs for families with young children at convenient times;
¦ Classes and computer assistance for residents needing help writing resumes, applying for jobs or brushing up on job skills;
¦ Free downloadable eBooks, audio books and music;
¦ Self-checkout stations; ¦ Updating our facilities: the moving of items, furniture and shelves at the Main Library is in preparation for new carpeting, new areas for periodicals, desks and to create a designated area for young adults;
¦ Purchasing approximately 100,000 new items annually;
¦ Making board meetings more accessible by rotating them to branches around the county — please come.
There is much more to come, including a new website.
Alongside our outstanding staff, the Library Board is excited about guiding CCPL into the 21st Century, and the members are committed to moving forward and making changes to our buildings, technology and programming that reflect the Strategic Plan and the dynamic interests of our community.
No, this is not the same old library you recall from childhood. CCPL is moving into the future.
Please join us on this journey … you’ll be glad you did!
Janet Segal is chair of the Charleston County Public Library Board of Trustees. This column also was signed by trustees Harlan Greene, Steven E. Clem, Maya Hollinshead, Bettye Anne Chambers, Judith Epps, Jeanne T. Holladay, Ed Fava, Paul Tinkler, Margaret Reider and Peter A. McKellar III.