Library director looking to increase staff, services
Patrons of the Ector County Library are greeted at the door with signage explaining reduced hours for some departments due to budget cuts.
“If you’re going to be open as many hours as we’re open you have to have enough people for each department or you have to cut the hours back,” Ector County Library Director Rebecca Taylor said.
Taylor said this past year has been a challenge for the library because of budget constraints. The library’s 2019 fiscal year budget shows an increase, but the majority of the funds target pay increases approved by Ector County Commissioners for county employees. More than 80 percent of the library’s budget goes to salaries and employee benefits.
Taylor said her library staff has worked with less over the years to provide quality services to the community. She said funding for the library has been stagnant, but with room in the budget this year, on Oct. 1, the library began accepting applications for a position to help restore previously reduced services. Taylor said one of the departments hit the hardest was the Audio Visual Department, which she said faced a temporary closure last year due to a shortage of staff.
Donna Lind, the sole full-time staff member for the AV Department, said she began her position in July. She is juggling roles as a clerk but is also handling some of the tasks typically assigned to the head of the department, a position currently vacant. Lind said she hopes that adding another person will allow them to extend the AV Department’s hours of operation and reestablish their presence in the library.
“I don’t think there are enough people out there that know that we’re here,” Lind said.
She said her department sees about 25 people a day, but loses out on patrons particularly on Tuesdays, after the Children’s Department hosts activities and story time, because of limited hours.
“The little ones have story time on Tuesday mornings upstairs and the mothers are used to bringing them down here and checking out movies before they leave,” Lind said. “Now they have to wait until 1 p.m. to check them out, which messes up with lunch and nap time.”
Abdy McVeay is a mother that brings her 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons to the library weekly, but said she has only visited the AV Department twice.
“I guess every time we would come it was closed because it was only from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and they have the story time for children at like 10 a.m. so I would never come back,” McVeay said.
She said it was not until her family came to the library on a Friday when her husband was off of work that they discovered what the department had to offer. McVeay said her children get excited about visiting the library, and now enjoy roaming through the shelves of movies for films like “Rio 2” and “Megamind” as a part of their Tuesday routine.
“They love coming here,” McVeay said.
Her children brought their movie selections to counter where they were welcomed by Lind with a smile and a song comparing the check out process to magic where Lind makes the DVDs reappear inside of their cases.
Lind said she looks forward to the day when the AV Department can provide hours that are accessible for more of the public as well as more opportunities to build connections with community.