Relationships with Users and Community Groups
The library has a long history of support from three Friends of the Library organizations: one each for the Georgetown library and the two branches. These groups have raised significant amounts of money. Members report that, together with the library director, their advocacy for the library system was so strong that they persuaded the county to build three new library buildings at the same time. The Friends groups are vocal about community programming, innovations in traditional library services, and the use of Friends-raised funds. For example, Friends at the Waccamaw branch initiated a self-supporting best-seller book rental program called Quick Picks that enables those willing to pay two dollars to read current titles sooner, rather than to wait on a reserve list for the library’s free copies.
Individuals appreciate the library for different reasons and use it in different ways.
- A horticulturalist trains volunteer county horticulturalists in the library meeting rooms. In turn, they volunteer their services to landscape the library grounds in Georgetown.
- A chemist comes to the library every day with his children and the children he tutors. The library provides a foundation for their learning. Although he lives 15 miles away, he is in the library eight hours a week.
- A school teacher and patron at the Andrews branch reports, “Our kids have to be very literate and prepared for an environment of information technology. Students need a place to use computers outside of schools.” In this way, the library serves as an equalizer. He looks forward to using Internet resources with students.
- A relative newcomer to the area describes the community as unique in its diversity. The library is the focus of the community and brings all elements of the community together.
- An employee of the nearby County Clerk’s office uses old newspaper articles and the library meeting room. She will use the Internet to gain access to state records in Columbia.
- A poet and high school dropout considers the library to be the continuation of high school and college for him.
In 1995, “A Community Report, Needs Assessment of Georgetown County,” issued by the Georgetown County Needs Assessment Partnership Committee, pointed to the library as one of the 12 major strengths of the county. Community members express strong support for their library; 48.64 percent of the population has registered for library cards (compared with a fiscal year 1995 state median of 33.76 percent). Each of the library facilities is used as a cultural center, and rooms are filled with community groups so often that library staff at times need to seek other space for staff meetings.
The Georgetown County needs assessment outlines the issues of greatest concern to the health of the county. The assessment describes community problems, many of which require information for their solution. Although the needs assessment report mentions the library as one of the county’s strengths, unfortunately, the group of community professionals interviewed for the report did not include a librarian or other information professional. The library is making significant efforts to prepare preschoolers for school, prevent illiteracy, and provide health information. But if the needs assessment report is any indication, the library is not perceived as a player that is helping to solve these community problems.