Leejimyiah Grace, left, explains some of the new technology to Loretta Hulin and David Smelser.
Leejimyiah Grace, left, explains some of the new technology to Loretta Hulin and David Smelser.

Kemper County Messenger

Over the past several months, the DeKalb Library has undergone an extensive renovation, including new technology, new furniture, new resources including many children’s books, and some painting. The Friends of the Library and library staff hosted an open house last Tuesday to allow the public to see all of the changes. Library Branch Manager Lawson Smith, said, “Not only have we added to our collections, but painted some of the walls, painted some of the doors, added some artwork that will eventually be put up.” Smith said for the public, the changes mean a freer, more accessible and much more inviting atmosphere. He added that they have already seen some increase in library traffic and expects that trend to continue.

In addition to all of the renovations, the library hours of operation have been increased. The new hours are: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Smith said these increased hours are important, allowing school children the opportunity to utilize the library after school hours, as well as some adults after work hours.

According to Library Systems Director Meredith Wickham, the renovation has been a long process, beginning with writing the grant application in April 2016. Wickham said that including new books, DVDs and technology, there was more than 700 new additions to the library.

The renovation is the result of a Federal matching grant with Liberty Fuels, Inc. providing the match; the total amount spent on the project was $18K. Wickham stated that the matching funds from Liberty Fuel were instrumental, as they would not have been able to apply for the grant without the assurance of the match.

The changes include new, comfortable furniture where adults can relax as they read or use their laptops and other devices; some of the new pieces are designed with integrated USB ports and electrical outlets for charging those devices.

The ‘circulation desk’ has been moved from near the front door opening up a large amount of floor space, and there are now two dedicated ‘kids areas’ with bright, exciting furnishings, and developmental toys.

Concerning new technology, Wickham said, “We added 10 new Chrome Books, those are portable, internet-enabled laptops that you can use anywhere in the library.” Wickham said, “Our goal is to get kids to read 20 minutes per day outside of school. Research has shown that 20 minutes a day outside of school leads to reading fluency.” To aid in this effort, kids can ask to use a digital bookmark which will track their reading time. After 20 minutes of reading the child is then able to ‘check out’ a Launch Pad tablet with lots of different learning and discovery games.

The library now also has a Wi-Fi enabled printer which allows someone to print from their laptop or other devices. In addition, the library has Wi-Fi extenders that allow patrons to connect to the internet from outside the library, for use after-hours.

Wickham stated that the library has seen major cuts in state-funding, but thankfully the county supervisors and the towns of DeKalb and Scooba have stepped up and increased their funding to completely offset the state cuts.

“The library, I think, is well loved in this county," Wickham said. "It is well respected and seen as an essential part of the health of the community. We are a part of the economic health and culture of the community and I hope that it reflects very well.”

In addition to the renovations, visitors to the open house were treated to a wonderful selection of refreshments provided by the Friends of the Library. Wickham pointed out that the Friends of the Library had purchased the paint and tools and provided some of the labor for the painting phase of the renovation.