SWON Visits – Brown County Public Library, Mt. Orab Branch
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Posted by: Melanie Blau McDonald
Visiting Lynn Harden, Library Director for Brown County Public Library, is always a pleasure. Not only does she ‘get it’ – that libraries are an integral part of their respective communities, but further, she understands that libraries are simultaneously about place and not about place. Brown County Ohio is Southeast of Cincinnati with Kentucky right across the Ohio River. The population density is 91 people per square mile and the per capita income is about $20,655.* From 2009 to 2013 library visits increased 20%, circulation of materials increased 30%, computer usage increased 82% and questions answered increased 73%.** Libraries must be welcoming, friendly and helpful places. Families must be able to trust the children’s librarians. Individuals must be able to trust staff in order to ask the questions they need answered, whether it’s about applying for a job online (the new normal), filing taxes or any number of other routine activities the rest of us with high speed internet and multiple electronic devices in our homes, take for granted. Recently the recipient of the Guiding Ohio Online*** Grant, Brown County will be able to hire a full time person to travel throughout the county training people in online skills. This person will have stops at all library branches but will also travel to senior centers, perform training with Head Start staff, visit the Middle School book club, interact with the local Chamber of Commerce and more. This is Lynn’s vision; that the services provided by the grant should include as much of the population as possible, whether or not they walk into a branch. Lynn is looking for funding now to keep the position going after the grant expires in a year. You see, for Lynn, it’s not about the library; it’s about the entire community.
*Data from census.gov accessed September 11. 2014.
**Library data from the Brown County Public Library 2013 Annual Report given to the author on August 28, 2014. It will soon be available in full online at: http://www.browncountypubliclibrary.org/anlrpt
***”Guiding Ohio Online is an AmeriCorps program that places members in rural Ohio libraries to deliver digital literacy training through computer classes, one-on-one computer assistance, outreach, and volunteer recruitment. Our vision is for every Ohioan to be able to fully participate in online government, search and apply for jobs online, understand the risks and benefits of internet finance, connect with family online, and protect personal information in the digital age.” From guidingohioonline.org Homepage, accessed September 11, 2014.
Photo credit: John Rankin House Historic Site from ohiohistory.org. The John Rankin House, a National Historic Landmark, is “…one of the best-documented and most active Underground Railroad “stations” in Ohio…”.