End of an Era – Changing of the Guard

After 22-years at the Library, I am retiring at the end of this year. I started as a Lending clerk in 1996, then finished a Masters in Library and Information Science degree. I was appointed the Local History and Genealogy Librarian in 2003.

Changing Landscape

Since 2003, there have been a lot of changes. More information is now available online.  Electronic resources have taken the place of print sources. This means it’s easier and quicker to access and update data.  Every year, more and more information is made available on the Internet – much of it through databases. People are able to access resources twenty-four hours a day through our website in the comfort of their own home. During the 2000s, social media burst on the scene.  The Library embraced the technology.  Our Tech Training Center staff gave classes on creating e-mail, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Skype and Linked-In. Specialized programs came along such as Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat. The Library became a place to go to learn about new technology.  Today, we have 3D printing as well as VHS to DVD conversion equipment available to the public. There’s scanning, FAXING and copying equipment. People have access to black and white and color printing. WIFI provides wireless Internet access and wireless copying ability. (You can create a document at home, then come to the Library and print it out.)Patrons can use any of our 60+ PCs to surf the web.  A Bloomberg machine provides real-time business information for day traders and others. The role of the Library is changing.

ADA Services

Greenwich Library also provides ADA equipment.  Low vision-patrons can use an Optelec Clear View and Magnifier to enlarge print for low vision patrons.  The DaVinci Desktop Magnifier offers a removable camera to scan documents and other items.  The Ruby Handheld Video Magnifier is a portable tool for scanning print items.  JAWS Reader Software is installed on one of our ADA terminals, and reads print that is being scanned.  In terms of our physical plant, the approach to the building provides ramps for patrons in wheelchairs, and bathrooms meet ADA requirements.  Our elevators are also wheelchair accessible.  Self-checkout machines are user-friendly.

Valuable Databases

Patrons find our offering of databases extremely useful.  They cover art, business, history, newspapers, etc.  People can learn languages through Mango, study music and monitor the latest in health education.  Our career and education databases can prepare people for new careers.  Teens can get homework help, and patrons can learn about business and finance.  People wishing to research their family tree can use any one of our genealogy databases.  Magazines and newspapers are available electronically. There are information sources on every discipline.

Strong Programming

Libraries have also put more emphasis on programming.  Since budgets are being carefully managed, programs are being monitored to ensure they are appealing to our clientele.  The library has excelled in this area, providing author talks, foreign affair programs, Greenwich Reads Together and quality musical programs. Flynn Gallery exhibits many attractive art displays.  The Friends Friday Film Program shows many new and classic films. Speakers at Greenwich Library have included David McCullough, actor Robert Wagner, and politician John Dean.

Our Children’s Department offers Lapsit, Toddler Time and craft programs.  They participate in the Head Start Program to prepare children for school.  There are several book clubs and popular reading programs.  A Spanish storytime is offered for children. Special children’s music programs are presented every year.  Our staff members serve as advisors to a Middle School Student Advisory Group.  Students can find many young adult materials in our Teen Center.

Local History

In terms of Local History, we moved the 5000 items Local History/Genealogy Reference Collection from the mezzanine to its present location near the Foundation Center.  This made it easier for older patrons to access research materials since it was now on the first floor. It also moved the collection closer to the Reference Desk. The problem remains that the Local History Office is separate from the reference collection. This will be addressed as the Library undertakes space planning.

Many years ago, I started to write emails to interest the staff in Local History.  I received some positive feedback.  When blogs became popular, I was approached to start a Local History blog. So I created a blog which I titled ‘Historically Speaking.’ Every other week I publish something on a topic I think will fascinate the public and generate interest in Greenwich history.  I try not to editorialize but just state the facts. I’ve been writing these articles since 2010 – first as emails, then as blogs. I believe it’s been very successful and hope my successor will continue publishing the blog. It can be found under the Greenwich Library Blog.

Other Programming

Books

More recently, Library Staff has been preparing Bibliocommons Booklists as a form of Reader’s Advisory. Librarians write lists and assemble book displays to promote popular topics. I’ve tried to highlight books on historical themes. Several glass display cases are used to exhibit historical ephemera.

The Library has been reading Public Service Announcements on WGCH radio for years. Several times I was invited to come on and discuss Local History and Genealogy topics.  I was even a regular guest on ‘Darby and Friends.’ This was a good opportunity to promote the library to the Greenwich population.

I think we can all agree that the library has done a good job of keeping up with technology and staying relevant. People come to learn, to engage in discussion and interact with others.  There’s no cost for many activities. The Library is no longer just a place to borrow books. It’s becoming more and more a community center.

Blessings

The best part of my job has been meeting and talking to all kinds of people. I’ve received emails from Japan, Italy, Germany, France and England. People have dropped in on their way to other parts of the country. They’ve called on the phone, or written letters. Everyone has an interesting story to tell. I learn something new everyday in my job, and I just hope people have learned something from me.  The best feeling is when you help someone find the answer to a difficult question.

I’ve also been blessed to have worked with a dedicated and conscientious library staff. They go out of their way to give the public quality service. Many have helped me with research, and have offered their help with various projects. The historic photo collection digitization project is just one example.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Library will continue to evolve. It will remain the place to go to obtain information on everything. Technology will make research easier. And the staff will continue to make Greenwich Library a unique place.

Thank you to everyone – patrons and staff.