Library constantly upgrading

The Wi-Fi at the seven locations of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County was accessed more than 70,000 times in 2016, according to a new software program introduced by the State Library of Ohio.

That meant that people used their devices in the library buildings to access the Internet while visiting our seven buildings.

Our library system now is operating on fiber optic service connected to the State Communications network through the Ohio Public Library Information Network, which provides a trunk line to each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

We provide the intra-county network that links our seven library locations with the assistance of the federal E-Rate Program for schools and libraries. Last year the library system was reimbursed more than $44,000 for communications services.

That operated everything from Wi-Fi to public computers, to telephone and fax services, and any and all electronic transmissions, critical to all public library services today.

When I say “all of our libraries,” I should point out that we have been unable to bring our Adena branch library from the old T-1 services to fiber optic until this month. OPLIN has assisted us in “finally” arranging for fiber optic at that location as well, to be operational in June.

The Toronto branch library was the other location that was difficult to link to fiber optic, but that took place in early 2016.

Now that these upgrades have been completed, it is time to increase the capacity with a five-times increase planned for later this year. This is a process that is never ending.

Then there are all those other things that people get from the library today.

Almost 40,000 eBooks were downloaded onto tablets from the library databases from the Ohio Digital Library. This is increasing by 10 percent every year.

Five thousand items were downloaded, such as movies, audio books, comic books, music and TV shows through our Hoopla connection.

The library’s databases provided by OPLIN, and others under contract to the library yielded more than 10,000 uses in 2016, including the whole family of World Book products as well as millions of pages of information in 35 systems of information.

And remember those things called books? Those paperbound things that have always lined the shelves of libraries? More than 600,000 were checked out of our libraries, along with books on CD and DVDs. They are still popular and still used despite the impression that everyone uses just the digital and electronic product.

Libraries continue to link together their collections, as people want and need a wider array of books from those collections.

Today, we are in a network of 92 Ohio library systems with nearly 8 million items ready to send to your home library for pickup.

The whole world of libraries is ready at the second level of databases for us to explore for the book you desire. The days of the four-part carbon copy of requests is long-gone, replaced with online data zipping back and forth between libraries.

There is another whole aspect of public libraries today; the realm of “all that other stuff” that is done by a public library.

We are one of the local institutions open on Saturdays and evenings, and one location on Sunday afternoons.

We fill the void of many other local, state and federal agencies whose public office has disappeared over the last generation of society. Forms, requests and information are now at the public library to be found and provided by our 68 staff members.

Color copiers, fax machines, scanning and sending are part of all of our locations, in addition to public notary service, which has disappeared from other agencies.

Many times I witness people at our libraries asking if we, or if we know where, something can be found or provided.

(Hall is director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.)