Library considering inventory system change; request for name change

The Great Falls Public Library has finished several capital projects recently and has plans for other projects in the near future.

The library initially received $10,000 in CARES Act funds and used it to remodel the back book drop in the alley into a drive-through pick up window, which went live Nov. 13 and 28 patrons used the window during November, Susie McIntyre, library director, told the library board during their Dec. 22 meeting.

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The library received another $28,998 in CARES Act funds that have been used for items including a VISTA placement, book carts, phone and internet service from July through December, mask incentives, two outside hotspots and four benches outside since the library boosted its wifi into the parking lot area.

The library basement flooding project is also completed and so far everything seems to be working, McIntyre said, though the real test will be first significant rainfall.

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McIntyre said that when crews dug the trench to the water main in 2nd Avenue North for this project, they found that during a 2009 reconstruction of the road, crews had run a pipe under an empty water pipe instead of cutting through it.

She told the library board that the 2009 project was what was causing the problems and she planned to write a letter to the Montana Department of Transportation about the piping that she said shouldn’t have passed inspection.

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McIntyre said that she doubted the library would get any funding as a result, but she wanted it on record with MDT.

Library staff are also considering implementing a radio frequency identification inventory and security system, which is part of the board’s strategic plan.

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McIntyre told the library board during their Dec. 22 meeting that prior to implementing RFID, staff is starting a research and preparation plan since they’ll need to reduce the size of the collection and rearrange materials.

She said she’s talked to four other libraries in Montana that use the system for their feedback and is asking for quotes.

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The transition would require tagging every item in the collection and McIntyre said it would be a time to weed through the collection and she said they’d likely need to reduce it by about 5,000 items down to 135,000 items.

That would be data driven, using the library’s guidelines, regarding removing items from the collection and if that process doesn’t get them to the target, then staff will have another conversation, McIntyre said.

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In transitioning to the new inventory system, McIntyre said she also proses rearranging items on the second floor and moving all of the audio/visual materials to the second floor to move new materials to where those items are currently, and then move grab and gos to the space new materials are currently housed since the first floor area is getting crammed.

She said some people might not want to go upstairs for DVDs, but it might also encourage people to get to the second floor and see the nonfiction materials up there.

A board member asked if the library’s mask requirement would remain in place if incoming governor Greg Gianforte lifted Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive and McIntyre said that since the library has its own policy requiring masks, it would remain in place. The library implemented a mask policy before Bullock’s policy went into effect in mid-July.

She said the library will continue to provide masks to anyone who needs one.

McIntyre said that if a situation arises in which there was a ruling of some kind prohibiting the library from requiring masks and the staff hadn’t yet been vaccinated, she would “seriously consider closing the library” since they can’t provide services and stay six feet away from people.

The library received a request from local historian Ken Robison to rename the library for Alma Jacobs, who served as head librarian at the GFPL and the state librarian, both historic firsts for a Black woman during her time.

McIntyre said she had some administrative concerns about renaming the library and Commissioner Mary Moe suggested that the board develop a naming policy.

The board decided it would discuss the development of a naming policy at an upcoming meeting and then invite Robison to meet with the board about his renaming request.

A mural of Jacobs is on the front of the library building and McIntyre said it might be more practical to rename the park behind the library for Jacobs.