Halvorsen Gatlin: Access McCleary library 7 days a week

The 2,112-square-foot McCleary library is one of the smallest in the five-county Timberland Regional Library System.

But, the bright and friendly library at 121 S. Fourth St. is the only one in the system that offers a new service.

The tiny library is now the most accessible. It’s open 13 hours a day, seven days a week thanks to a one-year pilot program to evaluate Expanded Access Hours.

Timberland patrons 18 and older who have a valid and active Timberland library card can access the library a few hours before and a few hours after staff members arrive.

Staff members still are available at the same hours on the same days they have been for years: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday, 1 to 8 p.m. every Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Through the Expanded Access Hours, registered patrons can use the library from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Small library — big advantage

Karen Kienenberger, manager there since 2007, noted that she and her other three staff members had been “constantly hearing” how people couldn’t get into the library during its regular open hours. So, she said, the Expanded Access is “an awesome program, and I’m really glad we got to be the trial library for the pilot.”

She is especially delighted about “being able to get the community members their library fix when it’s convenient” for them, Kienenberger said last week, calling the service “fantastic.”

In February, 65 people used the service, with more than double that in March, Kienenberger noted in a written report to the Timberland Board of Trustees.

Last month, the number – 197 — was more than triple, she said. Besides patrons from McCleary, they have also included some from Aberdeen, Elma and Olympia, Kienenberger added.

Folks have expressed that the Expanded Access has enabled them to pick up held items they’ve requested when it’s more convenient for them, the report noted. Others read newspapers and magazines, and families who “need a break from the house while it’s raining and come to look at books,” also use the children’s computer and play with the toys, it said.

One person “attributes her current employment” to being able to submit her application from the library on what traditionally had been a “closed Friday.” Small-business owners without high-speed Internet in the Summit Lake area also have taken advantage of the service to prepare legal documents.

Others have filed taxes and prepared for a wedding, used the library’s Wi-Fi during a lunch break and picked up print jobs they’ve uploaded from elsewhere. A home-schooling parent often runs errands before the library’s staffing hours or on Fridays.

Services also include browsing, self-checkout, copying and scanning. An emergency phone to call 911 is available if needed.

Patron agreement

Registering for the service includes reading and agreeing to the “Expanded Access Hours Patron Agreement.”

The agreement, which registering patrons must read and verbally agree to, includes using their only own library cards to access services, not allowing other, nonregistered individuals to enter the library with them, and parents or caregivers allowing the children in their care to accompany them into the library, provided they supervise the children while there.

The city-owned facility is equipped with security cameras that can “see everywhere there would be a person,” Kienenberger noted.

While McCleary is the only Timberland library to have the service at this time, it’s not unheard of elsewhere, such as at Vancouver Regional Library District’s Yacolt Library Express, which has no staffing whatever.

It’s hoped that Timberland’s pilot in McCleary will not only continue to be successful but — extended — and that soon other libraries in the system will also have Extended Access Hours.

For more information, call the McCleary Timberland Library at 360-495-3368 or Timberland’s Administrative Service Center at 360-943-943-5001.

Vidette columnist Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin can be reached at rhoda1946@yahoo.com.