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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Library, 1965-2007

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 11, 2007

42 years ago, the Herald Star did a nice feature story about the library, and in particular its service to school students.


I found the article while looking for something in our scrapbooks of the library, and began thinking how that time period has changed.


Wow, have things changed!


And actually, the major changes have been in the last decade, not the 32 years before that.


In 1965, the library system has over 19,000 library cardholders; in 2007 the library system has over 38,000 library cardholders despite a population loss of one-third in those years.


In 1965, people checked out 103,000 items compared to 805,000 items last year.


A photo shows a high school student in the Reference Room using the "Readers Guide to Periodical Literature," an index to magazine articles.


A new Docustat machine had been purchased to make copies from magazines "in a little as 30 seconds, so students don't have to hand copy articles from magazines."


In 2007, the Readers Guide is nearly extinct and magazine articles are nearly all online and available through the library website at home.


Copies are made on your home printer or by using the library's computers.


The A-V Department sported long-playing records and 16mm films in 1965.  The films were in rotating collections with 20 other libraries.


Today, the format is CD, DVD, or downloadable formats.


Interlibrary loan was available in 1965 by completing a form in triplicate, and sending it to the State Library with 400 items borrowed that way in that year.


In 2006, some 117,500 items were borrowed in the same way, except by accessing our online Information Portal and electronically requesting the items.


The Cataloging Department of the library processed over 3,000 new items in 1965, typing catalog cards for the file drawers.


In 2006, the Cataloging Department processed over 10,000 new items, and entered them in the online Information Portal.


The article included several staff photos, with familiar names and others that were gone when I arrived in 1983.


Ernie Lewis was head of the Audio-Visuals, and Margaret Moffat worked in the Cataloging Department, both had retired when I arrived.


Alfred Long and Annabelle McCullough worked on the Bookmobile.  Alfred retired in 1985, and I met Annabelle several times although she had departed the library.


A photo of the Board shows Morris Supowitz, who served as a member from 1958-1991.


The Director of the Library in 1965 was David W. Griffith, and he was just departing for the Youngstown Library.


The new Director was Martin S. Howard, who served until 1975 and I met on two occasions in the 1980s before his death.


Actually Mr. Howard noted that the purpose of the library had not changed since its founding in 1902 with monies from Andrew Carnegie:


"To provide a People's University open to all, offering knowledge, information and recreation, contributing to the area's cultural and intellectual health."


In 2007, we have new tools and methods for doing the same thing.