February is National Library Lover’s Month
February is National Library Lover’s Month. If you haven’t been through your local libraries lately, you’re definitely missing something. Atascosa County Librarians invite the community to recognize the value of libraries in our community and celebrate how they enrich our lives.
The Pleasanton Public Library is located at 115 N. Main St. in downtown Pleasanton.
Dorothy Steelman has served as the Pleasanton Public Librarian since June 2015. From 2002 to 2013, she served as the Lakehills Public Librarian in Bandera County. She shared the story of how her work found her, as at the time she was a stay-at-home mom asking how she could volunteer. Although a bachelor’s degree is not required for library managers in rural areas, the Lakehills librarian was pleased to learn that Steelman had a bachelor’s degree in computer science, as the staff disliked working with computers. The Lakehills librarian had just been hired in Castroville, so she asked Steelman if she was interested in a job. Thus began his career. She then earned her Masters in Library Science through a program at Texas Woman’s University.
Besides Steelman, the Pleasanton Public Library staff includes Gina Stewart, Kelly Simms and Amanda Seiler, their newest employee.
The county librarians group is close by and offers this much needed support.
“In Atascosa County, we all have a really good relationship with each other,” Steelman said. “If we have a situation where we need another perspective or someone to vent to, we all have a relationship where we can call each other up, and we do.”
Growing up, she never saw herself as a librarian. His family was joking and asking how many times people had told him to “shhh.” Steelman replied that today’s library is different. She tells customers they are welcome to speak in their normal voice. She only draws the line at the library used as a playground. For example, she will not allow children to play hide and seek in the piles of books. She shared how much she loves working in the Brush Country.
“I love working here in Pleasanton. It gave me an opportunity that I didn’t think I would ever have, because I went back and got my master’s degree in 2009.”
Through the special program of TWU in collaboration with the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, 30 rural library managers had the opportunity to obtain their master’s degree. Steelman was one of two chosen in the South African region and she only had to pay for her books.
“It helped me when I came here to apply and I already had a master’s degree even though I technically didn’t need to have one,” she added.
Steelman likes to let the public know that if you live in Atascosa County, you have the option of having up to five library cards.
“You just need to show proof of Atascosa County residency and you can join one of five county libraries.”
These libraries are Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet, Charlotte and Lytle.
Each library offers different programs and services. Currently, Pleasanton Public Library is the only one that offers Overdrive and Libby. As a larger library, Pleasanton has more public computers.
“Pleasanton has the healthiest budget in the county and we are credited with a population of approximately 24,000,” Steelman said. “That’s why the population served doesn’t really reflect the actual census.”
She is grateful that City Council and the City Manager see the importance of attending meetings and visiting offsite locations. For example, she regularly attends Atascosa Citizens in Action and Atascosa Interagency Council meetings. She visited Coastal Bend College and Our Lady of Grace Catholic School to discuss the use of their databases.
Steelman knows that customer service is important, in addition to being a warm and welcoming place.
Many go to the library to make copies or send faxes. The library also displays flyers on different events, programs, etc. to inform the public. In addition, when it comes to using computers, library staff have to be careful about the help they provide to a patron due to liability issues, especially when it comes to declare taxes, open a bank account, etc.
“We can get you where you need to go, but it’ll be up to you what you need to do,” Steelman explained.
She demonstrated the many features of Libby, which is an application used to access the electronic part of their catalog. It is web based so all you need is internet access and you can access the card catalog from anywhere.
There are two ways to access the home page, either directly from the web address or through the City of Pleasanton at www.pleasantontx.gov. February 22 was the last day you could download Overdrive, which was updated to Libby.
Your screen will ask if you have a library card and then take you to search for a library. Type in Pleasanton’s postcode, 78064, and you’ll see the Lonestar Digital Library.
“The reason he’s saying this instead of the Pleasanton Public Library is because we’re part of a consortium,” Steelman said.
While some libraries allow people to get their library card online, the Pleasanton Public Library does not. You must physically go inside to get a card. Also, if you get a library card for your child, you must bring that child. You can’t get a card for them without them.
The consortium is made up of more than 30 libraries putting their money and shared resources together to “get more for our money,” as Steelman described it. E-books and audiobooks are very expensive, she noted. The city pays $3,000 a year to be part of the consortium.
She shared the pros and cons of each loan model. For example, on a Kindle, no one knows what you are reading. Also, you can vary the font style, color, and font size. Audiobooks are great for listening while you exercise or clean the house. You can vary the speed of the narration and it will even tell you how much time is left.
With Libby, you can search by author, get alerted when that specific author publishes another book, see what’s available at all consortium libraries, find out when your loan expires, put something on hold, and more. You can also create tags, similar to a news feed.
Steelman is happy to talk about Libby and available databases such as Learning Express. People can learn about hobbies and crafts, get your GED, tutorials, small engine repair, and more. The databases are free to any resident of the State of Texas. There is also Career Accelerator which is linked to Indeed. You can learn about job outlook, salary range and more. The databases are peer-reviewed, amazing, and free to those with a library card, shared Steelman.
“We pay for our library to have access and it’s not very expensive. If we were to try to get these databases, each one individually, it would cost the city over $100,000, but the state acts as the middleman and we get it through the state. So we only pay a few hundred dollars a year.
The library offers Toddler Time every Tuesday at 10 a.m. Curbside service is also available Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon. They are very busy during the summer. Even last year without a summer reading, they still hit door counts of 2,650 in June and 2,575 in July.
In addition, the library has an interlibrary loan program. If you want a book and the Pleasanton Library does not have it, they can request that it be loaned to another library. This is a free service that can take anywhere from two days to two weeks. You bring the book back from the library and the staff mails it back to the other library.
The Pleasanton Library also circulates hotspots for $10 a day and you’re limited to a week. You get a kit to use with the adapter, cord, etc. that you signed. There are charges if you break or lose it.
Steelman also explained how public libraries are the community’s 4-1-1. People like to stop in or call, especially when they’re new in town. They ask about phone service, garbage pickup, etc.
“So people know they can do it, they can call their library to find out, or they just come in and use the computer because theirs at home hasn’t been set up yet,” Steelman said. “They need to scan something and we don’t charge for the scan at all because there’s no paper or ink involved.”
The Pleasanton Public Library is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit them today and discover them. You can also reach them at 830-569-5901.
Look in next week’s Pleasanton Express for articles on the Jourdanton, Poteet and Charlotte libraries.