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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.

Additional Recent Columns

The End  - (3/31/2019)
36 Years  - (3/24/2019)
Children and Reading  - (3/10/2019)
My Last Month  - (3/3/2019)

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The End
By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 31, 2019


Today’s article is a big “thank you” to everyone for the 36 years I have enjoyed at the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


I just seems like yesterday was my first day at the library.  The staff had balloons tied to the chairs in the staff lunchroom and everyone was so excited that the new Director had arrived.


My first “thank you” goes to the library board members who have served in the years I have been employed, for the support and guidance provided to me allowing the library to serve the public.


My second “thank you” goes to the staff members who have served the library and the public who use the library making it the great place that it is.


And finally a big “thank you” to everyone who uses the library system and has supported the library in all the many ways from holiday cookies to voting for the library levy.


Since 1977, I have written articles for the newspaper regarding the libraries where I have worked.  They have taken various formats to fit various purposes, although the last 20 years or so have been a consistent format to let people know about the public library.


My feeling was that most people really didn’t know much about a public library, and a list of “new books” wasn’t enough to inform people about all the services that a public library today provides.


We needed to be transparent with all the things that a library has and does, and putting that information in a story format would be more interesting to the public.


Over the years, I heard more library stories from people than I imagined existed, and more people that read my articles than I thought possible.


I tried to make myself and the public library more human than most people thought, while informing everyone what the library is like today.


As my time as an employee of the library system comes to an end, I am delighted to pass the leadership on to Michael Gray, who has served as the Assistant Director of the library system for 16 years.


He became Director last September, allowing me to concentrate on the Main Library ADA Project and providing time for me to gather all the things that I need to provide Mike for his tenure.


The Main Library ADA Project turned out to be far more expansive in scope than I ever imagined due in part to the fact we were merging a 117 year old building with a brand new building making one complex.


Despite the design and engineering work, every time a wall was opened what was found differed from the plan or even expectations; but the contractors did a great job adapting to whatever was found.


And of course, some aspects of the Carnegie building were “grandfathered” while the new building meets all current building codes --- causing some interesting issues in blending the buildings.


As I was moving toward retirement, an opportunity emerged to allow me to continue my contribution to libraries with an opening on the Board of the State Library of Ohio.


Last December, I sent my dossier to be considered for an “open seat” on that Board since retirement would provide the time to serve as a board member on that statewide agency that operates the State Library of Ohio in Columbus, as well as manage development of various types of libraries in Ohio.


There is always a lot of interest in serving on that Board, and I was pleasantly surprised when the State Board of Education appointed me to fill a time through the end of 2022.


I was sworn into my position on March 21 in Columbus, and am excited to make my contribution over my term of office.


It is also exciting to see someone from “rural Ohio” serving on that Board to supplement current members from metropolitan parts of the state.


I am so proud of the library system that I leave for the citizens of Jefferson County, and I have such warm memories of my 36 years of contribution.


Opening day of the Schiappa Branch, on Groundhog Day 1987, and 1990 opening day of the Toronto Branch for a new building where water from upstairs toilets didn’t leak through the ceiling like the old building are great memories.


The renovation and replacement of Adena, Dillonvale, Tiltonsville, and Brilliant locations, and Bookmobile services are all highlights.


And of course, each new upgrade of Internet services and automation systems enhanced library services as well as dedicated staff wanting to help people.


My wife and I will continue to reside in the community, and I have been told that I am allowed to be “around the library.”


It has been my honor, my pleasure, and my privilege to serve as the longest-serving Director of your library system, and I wish your system continuing success.