Megan Tarbett
Megan Tarbett
Director, Putnam County Libraries
Megan Tarbett
New programs, services offered through Putnam Library system

February 21, 2017

"Putnam County libraries are getting busier, and busier -- and busier," Megan Tarbett told Putnam Rotarians at their luncheon meeting today. And anyone who knows Library Director Tarbett also knows that she is responsible for the growing visibility and impact of the local library system. She hit the ground running when she took the post less than two years ago, and Tarbett has more plans in her sights than collecting fines on overdue books.

Book circulation has grown steadily with a number of new programs to get people in the door. Visits last year hit a record number of 191,000. (That would average more than three visits for every county resident.)

Over a thousand children and parents attended the last Summer Reading Program sessions, and reported more than 25,000 books read.

As a part of continuing community outreach, the Putnam libraries offer four-week classes on computer usage, a program that's especially popular with those who have never used a mouse, or business people learning how to organize files and work with Excel, Quicken and other accounting programs. The classes are a special hit with pre-digital generations.

"A grandmother brought in her Kindle," said Tarbett. "It was a family gift, but no one bothered to teach her how to use it. We helped her learn.

"We are doing things like that so often now that it doesn't feel like a special service.

"We have 'story time' and 'Cinema Sundays' -- for adults as well as kids. We showed 'Selma' during Black History Week."

A Bill of Rights pop-up exhibit loaned by the West Virginia Humanities Council is on display through the end of the month. "We give out a copy of the Constitution at the display," said Tarbett.

There is a special night for new and classic board games on Thursdays, alternating among the central and the branch libraries. A renovated web site gives the time and place. Check also for book club meetings and other special events -- the Embroiderer’s Guild "Stitch In Day", or the CPR classes.

"When we get them in the door," said Tarbett, "there's a chance they might check out a book."

Most special events in past years had been scheduled at the Main Library in Teays Valley, but some of them now take place in branch buildings. And events are often set for evenings or weekends. "We have smaller numbers per program," Tarbett admitted, "but overall we've had more visitors."

Sentelle / Tarbett / Beaver Rotarians Sam Sentelle (left) and Clinton Beaver welcome Megan Tarbett to the club luncheon meeting. Sentelle and Beaver serve on the Putnam Library Board of Directors.

The library now has a "seed catalogue" in addition to its traditional card catalogue. With a cooperative arrangement with the WVU Extension service, folks can check out seed packages for planting at home or in the Park Board's community gardens. When the harvest comes in, the gardeners are expected to return new seeds to the library. "There won't be a fine if you don't return the seeds," Tarbett joked.

Director Tarbett is also planning, in cooperation with municipalities, churches, civic groups -- or just about anyone -- to set up "Little Lending Libraries in special drop boxes throughout the county." And even a bookmobile to visit remote areas is not out of the question.

A regional card catalogue is available on the library web site. And books and music can be borrowed over the internet. Return of these electronic books is rather convenient. "After three weeks," said Tarbett, "they disappear." Items needed for a longer period can be checked out again, or the borrowing time extended.

Funding for the Putnam Library System is $13.71 per resident in the county by the County Commission, the Board of Education and donations; $5.04 of that amount comes from the West Virginia Library Commission.

By the way, whenever Megan Tarbett is not setting up new programs and organizing services in general, she's active with the Chamber of Commerce. She is Chair-Elect for the Generation West Virginia for the coming year. .

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