McCartney: Library Still Thriving

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

The staff of the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library is busier than ever, according to executive director Steve McCartney.

McCartney adds he'd like for the facility to expand to offer e-books and other more advanced options for patrons. But the budget crunch means that will have to wait. Even so, he says the library is used.

"The library system is heavier used than it ever has been in my (career)," said McCartney. "It seems like our circulation numbers are increasing. We are having to do more with less with our funding. Our future is as bright as the community would like it to be."

The library gets the bulk of its funding from Lauderdale County. It's allocated close to $900,000 for the year. But with the county in a budget crunch of its own, McCartney has legitimate concerns for the many people who depend on the facility's services.

To anyone who says the current library system is irrelevant, McCartney says come and check it out. When Newscenter 11 was there in the middle of the day, there were people using computers, doing research at desks, and some just reading. McCartney says that's the norm.

But still, the staff recognizes a need to keep up with the times. Advances do require funding.

McCartney said he's focusing on what does work, such as the books by mail program, where people can order books over the phone and have them sent directly to their house free of charge.

"I have a couple of my little ladies who will come in and get about 35 books a month, and they will pick them up downstairs or someone will pick them up for them," said library employee Shirley Koch.

The library staff doesn't see things slowing down. Every year around 250,000 people walk through the doors. The hope is that more of you will drop by and check out all the library has to offer.

The library was established in Meridian in 1913 with a grant from The Carnegie Foundation.

It moved to its current location in 1967, when the Civil Rights Act required the city's black and white libraries to be integrated.

Library officials have for years expressed a nee for a larger facility.

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  • by Steve McCartney Location: Meridian on Mar 5, 2010 at 09:18 AM
    mm, I am sorry you feel that libraries are the way of the dinosaur. This morning (Friday); which is usually one of our slower business days; I counted 43 customers using the library. Many were using the computers, including our WIFI; many were reading newspapers and magazines; others were looking for books; and some were checking out DVD movies for the weekend. The benefits of our library are numerous and benefits all Lauderdale County residents equally, without any bias. As far as a return for your tax money, I know of no other organization that returns so much for so little. What the library receives for annual funding would not pave much more than a mile of dirt road and without libraries, many of the children you mention would not have adequate access to the literary sources they need to complete their education. I hope you will come and visit us and see firsthand what your library IS doing for the citizens of Meridian and Lauderdale County. I think you will be surprised
  • by Charles Location: Meridian on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:38 PM
    Andrew Carnegie left his vast fortune to a foundation whose first mission was to fund libraries all aross America. Mr Carnegie used public libraries in Scotland and the U.S. to research the technology which enabled him to create one of the 19th century's greatest industrial enterprises, United State Steel Corp. Great colleges, and universities are educational institutions growing around strong libraries. If the gentleman who posted earlier read more with directed guidiance from a librarian, he might understand the relationship between easy access to information and all kinds of economic growth. Alexander the Great, is remebered for the important library he assembled. The British as they ruled and controled the seas of the world asembled one of the great libraries on earth; its called the British Museuem. We need a strong Meridian Public Library, a place where minds can explore ideas, even when they can't aford a personal computer or internet access at home.
  • by mm Location: county on Mar 4, 2010 at 07:47 AM
    Sorry, but I feel libraries are a relic of the past. They have become to expensive for counties to own and operate just for a place for people to hang-out and spend the day using free internet. The funding for these libraries should go directly to schools for the benefit of the children or better yet, pave a dirt road or two each year.
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