Library board to consider future location


When it comes to a future location for the main branch of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System, don’t book on anything yet.

Two new board members, Carla Martin and Rosie Pettigrew, have joined veteran trustee and current board President Ann Talbot in forming an ad hoc committee pondering what would be best for the current three-story library – remaining where it is, moving elsewhere to an existing building or constructing a new facility.

“It’s sometimes difficult to manage a three-story facility, and the age of the current building and its location are problems as well,” said Library System Director Mike Sawyer, adding that he, other officials and the board are hoping a decision can be reached in time to coincide with the library’s approaching 100th anniversary.

The Pine Bluff Library was established in 1913 as a public library association with the help of the local Pine Bluff Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1979, an interlocal agreement was established between the City of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, creating the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System.

The system’s main branch is within the downtown Pine Bluff Civic Center and includes the Ann Lightsey Children’s Library.

The system also includes branches at Altheimer, Redfield, Watson Chapel and White Hall. The system’s collection consists of 190,000 books, videos, DVDs, audiocassettes, microfilm and other materials, according to its Web site.

The system board, which has five standard meetings annually, last met in June. It’s next slated to meet in October. In addition to Martin, Pettigrew and Talbot, the board includes Linda Johnson Banks, Josephine Bell, Anna Marie Jacks, Donna Mooney, Griffin O’Neal, LaNell Roberts, Clincy Trammell and Robert Thompson.

“We hope to have some rough details on the committee’s findings at the October meeting,” said Sawyer, who recently replaced Mike Burdick as director when Burdick retired after 21 years at the helm. “We don’t know what the answer is right now.”

Also during its June meeting, the board approved an appropriation of up to $25,ooo for the consulting services of Rob McGee of RMG Associates of Chicago. A technology consultant, McGee is expected to arrive here next month to initiate a review of the facility’s integrated library system.

Currently, the library’s online card catalog is a text-based system.

“We’re one of only about six libraries in the country still using a ‘Hiland’ system,” said Sawyer. “We want to go to a Web-based system.”

Sawyer said McGee’s consulting fees are being paid from a separate, earmarked account.

“Our system upgrades are financed with set-aside funding,” he said.

Sawyer said he worked with McGee in a project at a North Carolina project and is looking forward to renewing their professional relationship.

“He’s good,” Sawyer said of McGee’s technology skills.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sawyer exhibited a new, recently-acquired public copier.

“We’re planning on replacing all our copiers within the next four years,” he said, noting the new model has more features than its old counterparts. “It’s a better machine and makes better and more types of copies, for the same price of 20 cents each.”

The system has another new copier in service at its Altheimer branch.