Armstrong Library patrons want extended hours

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 27, 2000

Kathy Rogers said she has used the Judge George W. Armstrong Library for years without any problems.

&uot;They’ve always been very helpful to me,&uot; Rogers said. &uot;I think they’re doing a great job.&uot;

Rogers was one of several people who wrote The Democrat during the Spring relaying experiences — most of which were unpleasant — with the library.

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&uot;I didn’t know what the big furor was about,&uot; Rogers said of the published complaints against the library.

Carol Hubert is another frequent library patron who said it is, in general, a &uot;good library.&uot;

&uot;But, there are a few things I wish were different,&uot; Hubert said.

Extended hours, especially on Saturdays, a larger staff and a better cataloguing system are at the top of Hubert’s wish list.

&uot;There needs to be more staff so library tasks can be done faster,&uot; Hubert said.

A relative newcomer to the herself, Hubert said she knows of life-long residents who think the library board should be more public.

&uot;They don’t have a clue who is on the board, how they get there and how long they stay there,&uot; she said. &uot;There doesn’t seem to be public accountability.&uot;

While the library is well-managed, it is not as &uot;user-friendly&uot; as it could be, Hubert said.

&uot;The focus is on protecting the books instead of helping the patrons and providing services,&uot; she said.

Arnold Clark uses the library to research for his classes at Alcorn State University. He said most of the complaints against the library come from people who are not members.

&uot;They’re a great staff,&uot; he said. &uot;They’re just following policies set down by (the director).&uot;

Many of the complaints against the library are an &uot;offshoot&uot; of an attitude change in society in general, Tillman said.

&uot;People today are not as disciplined as they once were,&uot; he said.

&uot;The way we manage them is by having rules,&uot; he said.

In more than 45 years on the library board, Tillman said rules have never been &uot;an issue&uot; until recently.

Because the library is responsible for what amounts to city property, the rules have to be enforced for everyone, he said.

Tillman said he is aware of complaints about library hours and limited staff, but lack of funding prevents changes.

With more money, Tillman said the library could extend its hours and hire additional staff.

&uot;But we simply don’t have the money,&uot; Tillman said.

The city gives the library $255,000 a year to operate. The rest comes from state grants which are dependent on local funding, Tillman said.

A recent trust fund set up by the Carpenter family will help, Tillman said, but the interest from the fund will not be enough to hire competent staff or extend library hours.