Library Stewardship

October 2016

A recent Monday morning found members of the library staff frantically mopping up water that was pouring through the courtyard door of the John Warren Cooke Conference Room. Several days prior to that, it was discovered that clogged gutters were creating a deteriorating situation in the roofline. These are but a few of the issues that are part of maintaining the facility that houses the Mathews Memorial Library. Coupled with such problems in the actual structure are concerns related to the courtyard and other areas surrounding the building.

Facility maintenance and operations is the continuous process of service provision required to maintain a facility and its campus over the course of its useful life. These services include cleaning and routine maintenance of major building systems as well as upkeep of the grounds. There are a variety of other associated tasks that are equally necessary, including checking for vandalism and identifying safety and maintenance needs. Adherence to good practices insures a safe and healthy environment for both staff and patrons. Generally, operation maintenance is the work of custodians, grounds workers and external maintenance crews.

The library facilities are owned by the County and maintained through the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Department which is responsible for maintaining all County buildings and grounds. The resources available to this department for maintaining all facilities is limited, making the job of providing general maintenance quite challenging. Thus, it falls to the library staff to step in and supply back-up, both when unexpected situations arise as well as fulfilling more routine tasks such as ensuring that restrooms are relatively clean, water coolers are stocked, and trash left on the grounds is removed.

Protecting the investment represented by library facilities and its resources from theft or vandalism is also a major responsibility that falls primarily on staff shoulders. On average, 200 patrons and/or visitors enter the library each day. While few items are removed without appropriate documentation and little harm is done to the facilities, it does happen. Prevention is the primary goal and staff and volunteers are geared to pay careful attention to activities within the facility. Overseeing the exterior is more challenging, even with the existence of cameras at key spots. When damage occurs, whether a broken window or more recently, damage to the newly installed ceramic fountain in the courtyard, steps are taken, first to repair the damage and secondly, to determine if further preventive measures can be taken to prevent future re-occurrences of such actions.

Mathews Memorial Library is the result of commitment for excellence on the part of many, including County officials, staff and, most significantly, the Friends of the Library. Their ongoing work and support of library, its facilities and programs, helped make the library a source of pride for all members of the community. The continuing commitment of each of these entities will ensure that the library is always viewed as it was when it was named “Best Rural Library in the Country.”