By Tina Alvey
Only five years after opening a new, state-of-the-art facility on a hillside overlooking the city, the Greenbrier County Public Library is, in many ways, already bursting at the seams.
David L. Nalker, president of the library’s board of trust-ees, reported to City Council Tuesday evening /last week that the facility’s 12 public computers are in virtually constant use, with no space available to add more.
“It’s incredible how many people don’t have a computer at home,” he said.
Among the people who rely on the library’s computers are college students who do their homework at the library and older folks who tap into the Internet to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives via e-mail and social media, Nalker explained.
The facility’s name is somewhat misleading, Nalker noted, pointing out that Greenbrier County Public Library is actually Lewisburg’s library, as well as doing double duty as a regional service center for other libraries.
“This library couldn’t function without the (funds) from being a regional service center,” he emphasized, revealing the library gets to keep 20 percent of the $475,000 it administers for the other facilities in the region.
The library’s operating expenses for the 2011-12 fiscal year were $260,000, according to a fact sheet Nalker provided to City Council and the media.
With a service area population of 8,000, the library logged 67,000 visits in the year just concluded. That visit total — which should not be interpreted as 67,000 individual persons — included 20,000 Internet users, divided between the public computers and wireless service use.
The library’s children’s programs attracted 2,400 youngsters this past year, and the adult programs showed attendance of 240 people.
The 13,500-square-foot library boasts a collection containing approximately 36,000 volumes and is open seven days a week for a total of 59 hours per week, with the exception of major holidays.
Nalker expressed admiration that the library manages to maintain a superior level of service to so many patrons with such a small paid staff — only two full-time employees and the equivalent of 3.2 part-time workers.
“They are really working hard,” Nalker said of the staff, noting that he and the other trustees hope to be able to add another full-time employee once the budget allows.
The library receives state, county and municipal funding, supplemented by donations from the community.
A community fundraiser will kick off at the library Thursday, with a reception starting at 6 p.m., featuring musical entertainment provided by Linda Walls and Jeff Bryant.
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