MLCL working on switch to independence

MARSHALL – It’s going to take some work to get the Marshall-Lyon County Library functioning as an independent library, MLCL board members said Wednesday. And while the library is open and library programs will be running as usual, there will be some changes for patrons in the next few weeks.

An ad hoc committee made up of MLCL library board members and staff held its first meeting Wednesday to set priorities for making MLCL’s transition to being an independent library. The MLCL board voted Monday to leave the Plum Creek Regional Library System, which had provided interlibrary loan, book delivery and other services to MLCL.

The loss of interlibrary loan, computer catalog services and regional book delivery are some of the biggest immediate changes, said MLCL board acting president Gwen Sturrock and library director Holly Martin-Huffman. Right now, library cards still work at MLCL, but patrons can’t reserve or renew library materials online, and their selection is limited to books and materials at the Marshall, Cottonwood and Balaton library locations. Losing connections to Plum Creek’s patron data and delivery system will also have a short-term effect on library operations. Some patrons who already have library cards with MLCL may need to be re-registered, Martin-Huffman said.

Sturrock and Martin-Huffman said it is important that MLCL patrons with books or other materials to return come to Marshall, Cottonwood or Balaton, even if the books come from a different library. Because MLCL isn’t part of Plum Creek’s delivery system anymore, MLCL staff will need to sort through book returns and make sure any materials from the Plum Creek system go back to the right libraries.

Sturrock and Martin-Huffman said one of MLCL’s biggest priorities in the next few weeks will be implementing and testing an independent computer catalog system. A new system should allow patrons to find library materials, including items from the Cottonwood and Balaton branches of MLCL. Martin-Huffman said hopefully a new catalog system will be up and running in the next couple of weeks, although that’s not certain.

Summer reading, children’s programs and community programs held by the library should go on as normal, Martin-Huffman said. Many of the programs MLCL offers are planned locally and supported by local sources like the Friends of the Library or community volunteers, she said.

Leaving Plum Creek means MLCL will lose Legacy library funding, but Martin-Huffman said the library can still apply for other sources of funding, like Legacy arts grants.

Sturrock said other future changes MLCL will need to address include issuing new library cards for patrons and updating the library’s policies and budget to reflect not being part of the Plum Creek system. More details will need to be worked out in the near future, she said. Some of the ad hoc committee’s recommendations will be brought before the MLCL board at its regular meeting July 14.