Dear Patron,

It has been over a month since the last time I sent out a letter. For that, I apologize. I have to remind myself that communication is key despite whatever else is going on. And trust me, there is a lot going on, even on top of the usual holiday rush of book publications. Keep reading below for some highlights. First, though, please note that the library will be closed on December 24 and 26 for Christmas. We will also be closed on January 19 and 21 for re-carpeting. 

You read that right! Re-carpeting! If I had known that replacing the old gray duct tape holding the seams down with vivid neon and technicolor tape would get this ball rolling, I'd have done it a year ago. We're starting with the main floor. If we are happy with the job, we will pursue re-carpeting the stairs down the to basement, the children's programming room, and the teen loft. This is a much needed cosmetic improvement to the building, but more importantly it eliminates a rather significant safety hazard. Duct tape is not an approved flooring material by  OSHA, the Architectural Access Board, or US Department of Labor. 

What I am really excited about is that we are going to have different colored carpet tiles between the main stacks. This will let us color-code the collection to a degree. Right now, one of the most handy landmarks in the library is a giant stuffed dragon that resides over the Easy Readers. Whenever someone asks where to find books for kids just learning to read, we can say, "under the dragon." No more explanation is needed. Now we'll be able to say things like "Fiction is down the blue aisle, and mystery is over orange." It'll be great!
Public Hearing for a Parking Lot

This story has been a long time in the making, but it is looking like we will finally get a parking lot behind the library. Pyne Sand and Stone is generously donating the material, and the Highway Department is go ing to do the heavy lifting, so a huge debt of gratitude is owed to both of them. The last thing left is a public hearing before the Planning Board, currently schedule for December 22 at 8:15 pm. 

If approved, we will be removing the loam and putting down 4 inches of crushed asphalt on top of 6 inches of gravel. This will provide a porous, low-maintenance surface that will allow water to drain naturally. We are planning to spread enough material to accommodate around 14 cars. We'll enter and exit on the East side of the building (between us and the Douglas House of Pizza). It'll be a little tight, and only one car will be able to fit through the curb cut to Main Street. But with a little common sense and courtesy, it is certainly doable.

I hope that in lieu of a full building renovation (we have to look at the town's budgetary situation realistically), we can embark on many projects like this in the near future to increase the accessibility of our library bit by bit. 
Museum Passes Reservable Online
(and other Blackstone Valley Library stuff)

The initiative we started with the Blackstone Valley Libraries is really taking off! You can now reserve museum passes online through Tixkeeper! Click here to see the new reservation tool. Hopedale, Upton, and Uxbridge are already fully integrated, but a lot more will be coming on board soon. Planning ahead will be much easier now. 

We have also begun floating our large print collections. This means that if one of our books is checked out and returned to Sutton, it stays in Sutton. We are still the owning library, but the book will stay where it is returned (as long as it is within the Blackstone Valley) until another patron checks it out or places it on hold. Likewise, holds placed by patrons here on other BVL libraries' large print books will stay on our shelves when returned. We hope this will provide you with some fresh material to browse by shuffling around our offerings, and also save some on the delivery costs of unnecessary transits.  If it ends up working well with our large print books, we are considering, as a next step, the possibility of floating CDBooks. 

Lastly, we are testing a joint calendar that might be shared by all the libraries, providing you with information on book clubs, programs, and events throughout the valley rather than just in Douglas. None of these libraries are more than 15 minutes away, which means a lot of your might even be closer other libraries than ours. But nobody wants to have to check more than one calendar to see what is going on. Right now, Whitinsville is using this as their primary calendar. I'm putting some of our events in as well. As we get more buy-in, this is what our default calendar could look like down the road. I welcome feedback on this, so please email me your thoughts. 
Project Codename: Breeze

 Soon, I hope this will be a prevalent icon on your apple and/or android devices. We have finished building the architecture of our new app, and all that is left is the spit and polish. If you haven't heard, this new app is going to provide easy, intuitive, mobile-friendly access to our print and Overdrive collections in one spot. It does a lot of things with basic search that our current catalog does not do, such as autofill and spelling correction. 

Once this baby is live, you'll be able to place holds on physical items and download e-content much easier than through Evergreen or Overdrive. As long as the apple and android stores approve it, I hope to name the app "Breeze." Given that the town's history is steeped in forests and woods, I thought it was appropriate. Also, it'll be as easy as a breeze.
A Breath of Fresh Air in the Attic

If you noticed a bunch of kids sneaking into the back of the library two Sundays ago and throwing books out of the top window, don't worry! It wasn't hooligans or hoodlums. It was actually a group of boy scouts and friends led by Joseph Skowronski of Troop 155 in Northbridge. Joseph is a local patron who contacted me a while back looking for prospects for his Eagle Scout Project. He wanted to do something to help out the town, so he contacted all the local departments. I told him that if nothing more glamorous panned out for him, I definitely had a project. 

Our attic is an interesting place: cold in the winter, hot in the summer, home to bats (only one the eastern side for some reason), and last resting place of every piece of broken furniture or machinery the library has ever been too hesitant to part with. The western half of the attic is also full of stacks and shelves. I have wanted to make use of these stacks for a while, transferring our closed stacks collections (library lingo for storage) up there and freeing the space in the basement for something else. The problem is that the space was previously occupied by old library discards and donations. These books had been steeping in dust and bat guano for 45 years, and the results were not pretty. I tried sorting through some of them and picking out the best to re-accession, but ended up with a case of histoplasmosis. 

I had an appraiser examine the collection, and--finding nothing of value--called in the troops. Armed with pickup trucks and dust-masks, Joseph and his team found the most effective way of getting all these books out of the building: pitching them out the window. Now that the these books have been properly disposed of, Joseph is going to come back and give the attic a good cleaning. I can then begin re-populating the shelves with material that I want to keep even if it may not be circulating...and this time create a procedure for regularly cleaning them.