Columbus Public Library
June 26, 2008
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
The Columbus Public Library opened in January of 2005 in its present location at 3000
Macon Road in Columbus, GA. The 105,000 square foot building cost approximately 20 million
dollars to build, and was underwritten mainly by local SPLOST funding.
The city branch libraries include: the Columbus Public Library, North Columbus Library,
South Columbus Library, and the Mildred Terry Library. They are governed by a semi-
autonomous board of trustees within the Muscogee County School District. The county branch
libraries are part of the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library System. These include the
Chattahoochee County Library in Cusseta, Lumpkin Public Library, Marion County Public
Library, Parks Memorial Library, the Quitman County Public Library, and the bookmobile.
Stephen Pharis, the Head Reference Librarian, gave an extensive tour of the facility. Mr.
Pharis earned his Masters of Library Science degree from Florida State University after retiring
from the army in 1992. He came to work at the Columbus Library when the new facility opened
There are three levels of staff employed by the library. Librarians must hold a MLS
degree. Library Associates must have an undergraduate degree, and Library Assistants must
have a high school diploma or GED. These employees are given opportunities for training
through SOLINET, a regional library training organization. Librarians must obtain 5 hours of
continuing education credits each year to renew their license in the state of Georgia. There are
19 MLS librarians in the Columbus Library System, which includes the county libraries.
Upon entering the library, the lobby is the location for the service desk, 5 computers for
self check- out, and a new automated self check-in computer. The first floor houses the Popular
Materials Room, which houses bestsellers, popular fiction and non-fiction titles, CD’s and
DVD’s along with listening stations, and even a coffee/snack shop called the Bookmark Café.
Computers are found here for public use up to 3 hours per day per person. The Teen Room is
located adjacent to this room, with fiction-only titles and 10 computers placed on tables built to
look like surf boards. The AFLAC Children’s Room is a child’s paradise, complete with
computer stations only for kids under age 10, some of which are loaded only with educational
The first floor also houses a 120 seat auditorium, which is used for movie showings for
children as well as adults. There are several public meeting rooms, equipped with the latest
technology, such as projectors, microphones and computer connections.
On the second floor, you will find the Fiction and Non-Fiction Collections, the Periodical
Room, Grand Reading Room, Genealogy/Local History Room, Reference Room, Print/Copy
Room and several Study Rooms. The third floor houses the administrative offices, including the
Program Director’s office.
Weeding is done throughout the year by each librarian based on a book’s condition, age,
and number of copies in the collection. There is a centralized Collection Development Officer
who sends out monthly letters to those librarians whose section is to be weeded. Items chosen
for removal are sent to the Technical Services department to determine whether the item should
be donated, thrown away, etc. There have been a few challenges to books contained in the
Children’s area, and the items were moved to the adult area as a result.
The Friends of the Library is an important asset to the mission of the library. The Friends
of the Library Bookstore raises funds that flows right back into the library. Books that have been
weeded are often given to the bookstore to be sold to the public. The Library Foundation also
raises money to be used for updates and events.
Technology is implemented in almost every aspect of the library. There are computer
stations on each floor, as well as wireless internet access throughout the library. There is a
classroom complete with 10 computers that can be utilized by school teachers for their classes as
well. Computer catalog systems are located throughout the stacks of the collection.
The Children’s Room implements several themes and activities to promote multicultural
issues and events. A Smithsonian Exhibit is scheduled to arrive this Fall.
Trends being addressed are mainly in the area of technology. There is more usage of
technology than ever before, and the librarians provide more computer troubleshooting than
research assistance. Databases are being added to meet the needs of students wanting to research
on-line, instead of utilizing the reference section of the library. This will lead to further
discussion of what to do with hard copy reference materials that are no longer being circulated.
Harris County Public Library
June 24, 2008
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
The Harris County Library is part of the Troup-Harris-Coweta Regional Library System.
The approximately 5,000 square foot building opened in 1992 and houses roughly 22,000
volumes. The previous location was open for 10 years. A branch library was placed in Fortson,
GA in the old Mountain Hill Schoolhouse, which houses roughly 6,000 volumes. The Harris
County Library is small in size, but busy in patrons and circulation. The library joined the
PINES network last August, which connects them to 95% of the libraries in the state.
Mrs. Debbie Merino, the County Library Manager, has been working at the library for the
past 13 years. She began a masters program at the State University of West Georgia, but quit to
take a job as the Assistant Library Manager for Harris County. After 10 years in that position,
she became the County Library Manager. Neither she nor the assistant library director are
certified media specialists or hold masters degrees. The library employs 2 full time and 3 part-
time staff, with the addition of 2 new part-time employees in August.
Specific duties of the librarians include ordering books, supervising personnel and
volunteers, weeding the collection, meeting with the library board four times a year, planning
children and adults’ programming, working the circulation desk, and assisting with reference
tasks. Mrs. Merino feels that a good librarian should also be a reader with a solid knowledge
base in order to help recommend books to visitors. She also feels that a knowledge of computers
helps in being able to assist visitors with the technology available.
Technology is a large part of the library’s operation. There are 21 computers for public
use in the main library and 6 in the Mountain Hill branch. Two of the computers are for the
online public access catalog, OPAC. All of the computers in the library were awarded by the
Bill Gates Foundation.
The layout of the library includes Fiction and Non-fiction sections, Children’s section,
Local History room, and a Media section which houses CD/DVD’s and audio books.
The Harris County Library works with several social organizations as part of its mission.
The Friends of the Library help to raise funds for needed supplies, books, etc. There is a plan in
the works now to build a new 15,000 square foot building to relieve the overcrowding problem
in the library. The county commissioners have approved a SPLOST tax in the amount of 1.5
million dollars to help with the building costs. Unfortunately, the proposal was for 2.8 million,
so the small library will now have to raise more than a million dollars on its own for the building
to be constructed. The library is also in the process of working with the Ferst Foundation to
provide all children in the county under 5 years of age with free, hardback books to encourage
literacy. There are approximately 500 children already registered and receiving books. The
books arrive each month until the child’s 5th birthday. The cost of this program is $36.00 a year
for one child, and the library is currently seeking individuals and groups to help with the cost.
The library also hosts children’s story hour during the school year, and summer programs
on Friday mornings when school is out.
Weeding the collection is done a various times throughout the year, and is based on age
of a book (particularly non-fiction) as well as circulation. The reference section of the library is
very out of date, but almost unused now due to the prevalence of the internet. The library holds
book sales and giveaways throughout the year as well to weed the collection.
Censorship is not really an issue in this library, but the librarians tend to stay away from
things that might not fit into the community. There have been objections to books twice in the
13 years that Mrs. Merino has been with the library.
Patron requests determine the majority of the selections, along with reviews in Library
Journal and online booksellers. The librarians will also visit Barnes and Noble bookstores to see
what is popular.
The Harris County Public Library is doing a wonderful job of offering a program of
library service to all residents of Harris County.
Northside High School Media Center
July 8, 2008
8:30 – 11:30 AM
Northside High School opened in 2002 on American Way off of Veteran’s Parkway in
Columbus, GA. Connie Ussery, one of the Media Specialists, welcomed us warmly to her
library. Summer school is in session, so the library was crowded with students using the
computers and checking out books.
Mrs. Ussery is a certified teacher and spent 17 years as an English teacher at Hardaway
High School in Columbus. She received her MLS degree from West Georgia and became the
Media Specialist at Midland Middle school, leaving in 2002 to open Northside’s library. Mrs.
Ussery also holds several positions within the school system. She serves as the Partners in
Education chairman, serves on the School Council, and is chairman of the SACS School
Improvement Plan Committee. She is also a National Board Certified Media Specialist.
The library is set up to serve all students and teachers of Northside High School. The
librarians have flexible scheduling, which allows them the freedom to plan activities and duties
according to their need. There are approximately 16,000 titles in the library. The library is
staffed with two full time media specialists. There is no clerk at present due to budget concerns,
but duties are carried out by both student and parent volunteers. There are even special
education students who work in the library, making them feel part of the “team.”
Duties of the media specialists include administrative tasks, book check-in and check-out
with Destiny software, being the contact person for all technology concerns, helping teachers
with software and grant writing, as well as collaborating with teachers to assist them with their
lessons. Mrs. Ussery stressed the importance of being out and available in the hallways, letting
teachers know that the media specialist welcomes them and is there to help them. She said that
she has the best job in the school.
Although the school is only 6 years old, there are some out of date materials, especially in
the Technology and Ethics sections. Weeding is done primarily due to damaged books, and is
offered to teachers first, and then donated to organizations such as Altrusa. Books can also be
repaired several times before being taken off the shelf. Follett also allows damaged books to be
returned and replaced at no cost.
Technology is a large part of the library. The library opened with 16 computers, and now
houses 40. There is a stationary laptop lab for student use, and the library will be acquiring 40
laptops and 32 desktops this year. The Student Tech Team helps to check items in and out, as
well as troubleshooting help for students and teachers. The school production lab is used to
assist in test preparation, and a Smartboard and projector are scheduled to be installed this year
for orientation sessions.
Staffing is allocated to meet the mission of the school by the administrators. The part-
time clerk position was eliminated several years ago due to budget cuts, so those duties are taken
on by the media specialists and various volunteers.
The library is the host for several social events and organizations. Baby showers for
faculty are held there, as well as the annual National Honor Society reception. Football
scholarship signings are also held in the library. Barnes and Noble book sales help to raise
money for the library, as well as money from Coke and candy machine sales.
Challenged books are put in a process that includes a committee, but also can be pulled
by the principal. The media committee, made of students, teachers, and parents, serves to
oversee any challenges. Multicultural issues are incorporated into every orientation session led
by the media specialists. There are more books on Hispanic and Latino subjects being ordered
now due to the increase in the student population.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Northside media center. Mrs. Ussery’s excitement for
her job and for our visit made a huge impact. The school is extremely fortunate to have her in
Simon Schwab Memorial Library
Columbus State University
June 18, 2008
2:00 – 4:30 PM
The library at Columbus College opened in 1958 in one room in the old Shannon Hosiery
Mill, and was run by the first librarian, Matilda Martin. The college relocated in 1963, and the
library moved to what is currently Woodall Hall. In 1975, the library moved into a new facility
and was named the Simon Schwab Memorial Library. The current building is four stories tall
and holds over 350,000 volumes and a staff of 26 full time employees. The first branch library,
the Music Library, opened in 2001 in the downtown River Center. The library now strives to be
a “teaching library,” whose employees work with faculty and students to become a primary
Michelle Jones is the Interlibrary Loan Librarian as well as an Assistant Professor of
Library Science. She serves as liaison to the College of Education and is the current editor of the
Simon Says Newsletter, a publication of the Schwob Library. Her duties include: teaching LIBR
1105 each spring semester, coordinating/overseeing Interlibrary loans, planning technology
upgrades, and keeping up with subject resource guides. She holds a Masters Degree in Library
Science from Clark Atlanta University.
The library uses the Library of Congress cataloging system for its collection. The
circulating collection is housed on the second and third floors, divided into groups A-L and N-Z.
The third floor also houses the Archives, and the Main Floor houses a computer lab, Periodicals,
Reference, and Government Documents. There are study rooms and carrels throughout the
library, and there is a classroom located on the third floor, where our visit began. The basement
is the home of the Instructional Technology Services department. Some of the services offered
by the library are: wireless internet access, photocopiers, computers for Non-CSU students,
scanners, CD burner, presentation practice area, Optelec (visual enhancer), ADA software, and
Each librarian is responsible for weeding in his or her area. Shelves are scanned for age
and appearance, and new items are searched to replace old editions. Sections are scheduled for
weeding at a specific time of the year; the reference section is currently being weeded. Budget
issues are the determining factor at present for weeding the collection. Serials (print journals)
must be reduced by 50% in order to purchase more internet databases. Ms. Jones has already cut
$12,000 from the Counseling, Physical Education and General Education budgets in order to
achieve this. Once a book has been pulled for weeding, there is a set amount of time that another
librarian may challenge the removal. It must be put back on the shelf if the challenge is upheld.
Censorship is not an issue for Ms. Jones due to the fact that she is expected to order
everything that relates to education. The faculty presents a Banned Book Week each year, when
books that have been challenged nationwide are displayed.
Social organizations upheld by the library are the Friends of the Library. These
patrons/donors can partake of the library services for a small fee. There is also an annual book
sale for the public during National Library Week in April.
Technology is an integral part of the library. Databases and e books are available, as well
as flat screen computers for students and non-CSU patrons. The library is also accessible by
wireless internet users.
The library has undergone many beautification projects in the recent years. New carpet
was installed throughout the library, as well as lighting installed in the reference and ILL areas.
More color was added throughout, along with beanbag chairs and card catalog art located on the
first floor. A sliding door was installed to make entering and exiting easier, especially for
handicapped patrons. All of these elements make the Schwab library quite an asset for
Columbus State University.