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.