* 636: Registered patrons
* 1,906: Items checked out
Funding (fiscal year 2009-10):
* $1.96: Polk County Library funding per person
* $16.49: Average library funding in Tennessee per person
* $31.94: National average library funding per person (FY 2008)
Source: Polk County Library/Fort Loudoun Regional Library
BENTON, Tenn. - The West Polk Library here showcased its recent makeover and digitally touted plans to better serve the community during an open house last week.
Visitors got a chance to see a revitalized library in the Benton Courthouse, complete with new carpeting, recently painted walls and a chance to meet the library board and members of the Friends of the Library Association.
"We wanted to take the opportunity to show the West Polk Library after its face-lift," friends group Chairwoman Sally Love said at Thursday's event.
Arthur Bigham, library board vice chairman, applauded the efforts of the friends group and especially member Jenny Rogers, who assumed a central role in the cleanup project for the library.
"Communities need good libraries," recently appointed board member Viva Deverell said.
The Polk County Library has about 12,000 books and other media in its collection, shared between its Benton and Ducktown branches. Bigham said he hopes to increase the number of audiovisual items.
The library began the process of cataloging its collection into a computer database and eliminating its old card-based system earlier this year. The friends group sponsored an AmeriCorps worker especially for the task, which library officials expect will take several months.
A computer lab for the East Polk Library is the next big project, Bigham said.
The Ducktown branch is scheduled to receive six or seven laptops and peripheral equipment possibly by mid-April, according to Bigham. The computer lab is part of a jobs training initiative funded through state and federal grants amounting to $16,000.
"East Polk will be part of the first wave of counties to receive computer labs," said Bigham, who recently met with one of the state's technicians assigned to install the equipment.
He said the grant money includes funding for up to 60 hours of computer instruction. The library is free to choose its lab instructors, Bigham said.
While the Ducktown computer lab is in the works, the libraries now offer free Internet access as well as WiFi access for wireless laptops. Patrons also may use their library cards to connect to e-books through the state library website.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. E-mail him at email@example.com