published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Hard at work at the library

Corinne Hill, the new director of the Public Library, began work at the first of the month. She’s spent the intervening days doing what most individuals new to an executive position do — getting to know staff, perusing reports and financial data and learning the day-to-day operation of the facility. Hill, though, has done more. She’s quickly instituted changes that should become increasingly evident — and pleasing — to the library’s patrons in the weeks and months to come.

Hill says she came to Chattanooga with priorities for improving the library. She’s quickly taken steps to implement some of them. First was “to do something” about the slow Internet speeds at the library. That is a proper initial target. Improved Internet speeds will make the library experience more useful for patrons and allow library staff to do their work, and serve the public, more efficiently.

It’s too early to say improved Internet speeds at the library are a done deal, but resolution can’t be far away. Hill says city government’s IT department is working with her to solve the problem. She’s hopeful that improved speeds will be apparent in a month or so. If the new director has her way, that’s not the only issue that may be addressed soon.

Hill has just placed an order for materials to shorten waiting times for popular items and books. It makes no sense, she said, for there to be 20 holds on the library’s only copy of a book. Hill is placing orders to reduce wait times by increasing the number of popular titles on hand. It’s all part of Hill’s plan to reallocate resources so the library can provide materials and services the public demands.

Library patrons also should be pleased by some of Hill’s other plans. She wants to move forward quickly on a magazine download service for the library. Doing so would allow patrons in any of the library’s facilities and cardholders at home to download magazines simultaneously, thus permitting more than one person to read a publication at the same time. She hopes to provide music downloads through the library, too. That probably will take a bit longer because costs for that service are higher.

Those are just a few of the things on Hill’s agenda. She’s made arrangements, she says, to have the fountain in front of the library repaired. She’s visited branch sites and become involved in plans for replacing the Eastgate site. She’s working on a budget to be presented to city leaders before the month’s out. She’s studying the comments of various focus groups that have responded to questions about the library, the services it provides, and what services they would like to see in the future. It will take some time to assimilate that material.

There are other problems at the library that should be addressed in the short-term, and substantive, long-term issues, including political ones, that affect the library’s future and that will take more time. For the moment, though, it seems that Hill is off to a fine start, and that library patrons soon will benefit from her work and her expertise.

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