December 30, 1976
To Whom It May Concern:
Since Ft. Lupton combined its old public library and the former high school library in one brand new facility which was designed for such usage in the new high school, we have been asked by several communities about the experience and I shall attempt to give here my own personal opinions on the adventure.
First of all, I am pleased to say that it is working better than I feared it might for a time. Adults who opposed the merger are coming in to check out books and equipment though they seem to prefer to come during hours when students are not in school. Some adults are not intimidated by the possibility of meeting students in the library and come during the day when students may be in the room. Students seem not to be bothered by the presence of adults, and the small children who come as public library patrons during the day are enchanted by their special little area.
From the beginning of negotiations for such a combined effort I would urge all communities who consider such a step to realize that all will not be perfect but that the advantages will surely outweigh the disadvantages.
We have gained:
• A very special and understanding professional librarian to direct and supervise all school libraries and the public library collection. This person needs to be one who is going to be able to give more time than he or she is paid for, unfortunately, and one who can administer the other personnel and the budget in professional and understanding manner. This position calls for diplomacy and pragmatism.
• A beautiful new and modern library and media center with materials and equipment to loan to both public and school patrons and lovely surroundings in which they can study and read.
• An off-street parking lot near the front door of the library with no steps to prevent entrance by elderly and the handicapped.
• A conference room and meeting room that can be used by community and school groups.
• An enlarged collection in one place. Few school classes used the old public library, and it was difficult for busy students to find a time to use it since it was not open any night and only one lunch hour during the school week. The old high school library was not open at noon hour either.
• Better use of budget money provided by the same taxpayers who support both public and school libraries. For a little over $700 more than the 1976 budget the public library was gaining maintenance, lights, telephone, extended book and materials collection, meeting rooms, media equipment, and services of a professional librarian and a media technician. The school gained 20% of the budget support from the city and a collection of some 8,000 books. The school collection was woefully meager as the district had always been very poor and had not really considered the library a priority. With the advent of the oil and gas industry to the school district and a superintendent who was interested in libraries, this situation has turned around. This is not to say that previous superintendents were not interested in libraries. The money was just not there, and school boards were inclined to use it elsewhere.
• The establishment of a library board which may be able to see better the entire library picture than either the school or the city library board. The library trustees are now forced to look at a larger picture and allocate budget items accordingly.
Now for some of the disadvantages:
• Some of the older public library patrons are still not happy with the merger. They were accustomed to very special attention in the old library which really was there to serve all of the students in the schools as well as the adults. It so happened that the students who could have used it preferred not to or found it impossible to use it because of the inconvenient hours for students.
• At times it is difficult for the director to decide who is her boss, the school or the library board. With certain personalities this could be a real headache for all concerned. There must be a middle road where all can agree as to the chain of command. Good written policy should help to smooth the way in this rather touchy area.
• The director must at times feel overwhelmed with all that has to be done. Trustees must be willing to share a part of the burden of public relations, moral support and obtaining volunteers.
In my opinion the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Many of the taxpayers, not necessarily library patrons, feel that combined libraries are the only way to go with the increased demands on all public monies and that maintaining one good facility is much better business than having two inadequate ones.
Whatever decision is agreed upon in any community in regard to combining libraries, the people involved have to make up their minds that it is going to work and set about to seeing that it does. No human institution is ever perfect, and the best that we can do is to make the institutions better than they were. You can't please all of the people! You are building for the future while improving the present, and it all takes courage.
I have tried to cover questions which have been asked and many that have not, and if you have others which I might address, please feel free to write or call.
Mary M. (Peg) Carlson
303 S. Park Ave.
Fort Lupton, CO 80621
Advantages of a Community Library
The library service area includes more than 12,000 people. The high school has about 725 students in grades 9-12 and about 60 teachers.
The library moved into a new facility in December 1993. The new facility is located on the east end of the high school building occupying 16,500 sq. ft. This facility includes one meeting room that will accommodate approximately 50 people. This meeting room includes a small kitchen counter area and a restroom. The remainder of the library includes public restrooms, a children's area, public access computers, an adult quiet reading area complete with a gas fireplace, four offices, a staff lounge with kitchen and restroom facilities, and an equipment storage room. This new library shares a parking lot with the high school faculty. This lot however has ten spaces reserved for library patron use. These spaces are located nearest the doors. Telephones, intercom, utilities, and custodial and maintenance services are provided by the school.
The original public library had an area of 1,680 square feet, and the original high school library had about the same amount of space at that time.
The library has a competent staff of eleven people including the library director, a children’s librarian, a media specialist, and an outreach librarian, six library technicians, and four students. A library technician maintains the index of THE FORT LUPTON PRESS, our local newspaper, started by two volunteers.
The original public library had two part-time paraprofessional staff members who operated the library. The high school library was staffed by one school librarian.
All library staff are employees of the school district. The professional librarians are paid on the certified personnel schedule and all paraprofessional library employees are paid on the classified personnel schedule.
MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT:
Audio-visual materials and equipment were not available to the community at large before the libraries were merged. Now all materials and equipment are available to all members of the community.
A preponderance of the print materials owned by the library came from the public library collection. Each user group benefited from merging the two collections. The large fiction collection from the public library complemented the predominantly nonfiction collection of the school. By having one collection, funds for materials can be more wisely spent, assuring a wide variety of materials with little duplication.
One of the major goals of this library has been to provide worldwide access to information for our patrons. All public access computers connect to the Internet. In addition, through our shared "Integrated Library System" with Weld Library District our patrons can borrow electronically from collections of ten other libraries in our Weld County District. Additionally, they have access through interlibrary loan to information and materials throughout the United States.
Electronic resources are also purchased cooperatively with Weld Library District and can be accessed from computers in the library or from a home or classroom computer using a library card barcode number for verification. Because we are member of the Weld Library District as a public library in Weld County, we were able to benefit from the ACLIN project funded by the Colorado State Library and others which helped us get on the Super Highway initially.
Services provided to the community which were not provided before September 1976 are:
• More open hours. The library is open 57 hours per week. The library operates 12 months a year, 52 weeks a year, 6 days a week.
• All library resources in the community are available to all people in the community. The library is open to everyone during all open hours.
• Meeting rooms are provided for community and school groups.
• Telephone reference service is encouraged.
• Compilation of bibliographies is offered.
• In-service is provided on the use of the library and its materials and equipment.
• Free cultural programs and art the library board sponsors displays.
• A program for volunteers has been established.
• Computers and typewriters are available for public and student use in the library.
• Courier services are provided through Weld Library District.
• Interlibrary loan services are provided through Weld Library District.
• Summer reading program encourages good reading habits in children of all ages.
• Audiovisual equipment may be checked out for public use. This includes slide projectors, overhead projectors, VCRs, camcorders, etc.; essentially anything that is portable.