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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 Main Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 2, 2010

“My office is at the Main Library.”


That comment brings a vague look on the questioners face, and I usually have to follow that with a further description.


I often say that it is the building at 4th and Slack Streets in downtown Steubenville, and that seems to clarify the location of my office.


Some people remember it as the “Carnegie Library,” and others ask what the building was before it was a library.


The phone at the Main Library is answered “Downtown Library,” in an effort to designate where the caller has been directed.


Still other people inquire if the building is still open.


I guess the library system has an identity issue.


The term, “Main Library” is meant to designate that a particular library building is part of a larger library system, and this building is, in some way, the “Main” library of that system.


“Main” typically means that the administrative offices are located there, and the suggestion is that it is the largest library of the system.


In Ohio’s libraries, these assumptions are no longer correct.


We have library systems with offices in separate buildings, offices in former branch library buildings, and (as in our case) the Main Library is not the largest building of the system.


The Schiappa Branch Library is twice as large as the Main Library, and does four times more business.


Some people don’t even realize that the library at 4th and Slack Streets and the library at 4141 Mall Drive have any relationship at all.


In the age of computerized library catalogs and online databases, it really doesn’t make a difference.


Delivery service is ongoing between the two locations, and all of our other branch libraries all week long moving resources to where they are needed and requested.


Actually, our Main Library has the administrative offices, finance office, technical processing offices, bookmobile offices, as well as public areas.


The Schiappa Branch has meeting room space, local history & genealogy, children’s services, reference & information services, as well as public areas.


For that matter, other branch libraries have unique items, such as the Tiltonsville Branch with  6,000 books in stack storage, ready for loaning by request.


I always say that we are pleased that you enter the library through whichever door you desire, even the Dillonvale Branch whose door needs a new closer.


You may enter the library through our electronic doorway and search the catalog and download an e-book, or send a request to the library.


You can telephone the library and talk to a real human being if that is your preference.


Or you can use the bookmobile door which is constantly on the move.


All of those library doors are unique when compared to other government agencies and institutions providing services to the public.


The library door requires no age limit, no education factor, no income level, and no reason to enter other than your desire for information.