Civitans contribute flag for Guardsman

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2001

Librarians, from left, Deb Mitchell, director of the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library; Sandra Mayfield, circulation librarian; Pam Gee, assistant director; and Paula Benard, operations librarian, stand near the new Polaris automated library system.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN

[12/21/01]People with Internet access can now search library shelves from home, Deb Mitchell announced Thursday at a celebration.

Thursday also marked the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library’s 15th year as a single-county unit. Before 1986 the library was part of a six-county regional library based in Jackson, said Mitchell, who is library director.

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The library’s previous method for patrons to determine what books, tapes and other materials were available was, except for a brief experiment with remote dial-up access, computer terminals inside the library.

The new system, which went live quietly Nov. 6 and is available to the public now, gives users access to more information the number, format, and availability of copies of each item in the library’s catalog, and puts the information in a format that is easier to read, Mitchell said.

Icons on the screen, for instance, indicate whether a book is available in large-print version or on cassette. And, from the catalog page for each title, there is a link to a complete list of the library’s other holdings by the author of that title.

The new system also allows card holders who know their personal identification numbers to use the Internet to place “holds” on checked-out items without going to the library, Mitchell said. That way, patrons can get in line for popular works. When turned in, the computer will notify library staff to hold items for patrons who reserved them.

The library has estimated that the total cost of the system could be up to $243,000, with $145,800 of that coming from a state grant and the other $97,200 from Warren County. The new system, called the Polaris Library Automation System, was developed by the same company as the library’s old system, Gaylord Information Systems of Syracuse, N.Y.

“It’s been really good for us to be on our own,” Mitchell said of the library’s 15 years of independence from its former Jackson-based regional organization. “We’ve been lucky (that Warren County) has supported us on our own.”

Sharman Smith, the executive director of the Mississippi Library Commission, was on hand to support and recognize the efforts of the Warren County-Vicksburg Library for the work it does.

“This is the kind of welcoming, bright, open library, we like to encourage,” Smith said. “Internet access is just one more point of access to a library that continually reaches out to its community to provide service in new and different ways.”

The local library, on Walnut and Veto streets, has 18,000 to 20,000 cardholders, and serves an average of 10,000 to 12,000 people a month, Mitchell said.