Changes for the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library — including new catalog software, permanent delivery service and later hours on weekdays at Philomath Community Library — were recently implemented to make it easier than ever for residents to check out books and other materials.
“A library is all about the collection — and access to the collection,” said Ashlee Chavez, director of the Corvallis-Benton County library system, which operates the Philomath library.
Andrew Cherbas, deputy director, said the biggest benefit with the new catalog is that it should provide more consistent results for patrons.
“Items should also be much more ‘discoverable’ in the new catalog,” he wrote in an email.
That includes digital-only materials such as electronic versions of books, audiobooks and more.
Lisa Immler of Philomath — at the library for children’s activities on Wednesday morning with her 15-month-old daughter Vanessa Immler and 4-year-old son Nolan Immler — said she appreciated the updated catalog.
“If you look something up, you get all the different kinds of media. I can see if it’s an e-book or a regular book all in one spot,” Immler said. “It was not that obvious before.”
The Koha software with Aspen Discovery overlay, which went live June 20, also represents significant savings.
The new software will cost nearly $33,000 per year, down about $16,000 annually compared to the library system’s current catalog vendor, Cherbas said.
Chavez said that the new catalog is open source software that can be customized to the library system’s needs.
The library’s previous catalog was based on 20-year-old software. Over time, it had evolved into something better suited for schools and smaller libraries, Chavez added.
The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library contains more than 300,000 items and roughly 22,000 are stored in the Philomath Community Library.
The Philomath library has approximately 80,000 items checked out per year. That compares to nearly 750,000 at the Corvallis Public Library, more than 290,000 digital items from the system, almost 17,000 at the Monroe Community Library, and about 9,000 at the Alsea Community Library, according to estimates from fiscal year 2022-23, which ended June 30.
Visitors to the Philomath library or patrons online can use the catalog to find materials in the building, or request items from anywhere in the system.
The library system also will deliver materials to residents anywhere in its district, including in outlying communities such as Wren, Kings Valley, Blodgett and Summit.
That service started during Oregon’s stay-at-home orders during the early stages of the pandemic. “It just took off,” Chavez said. The library system averages nearly 700 deliveries per week now, down from 1,550 every seven days during much of 2020.
Still, about 210,000 items were delivered last fiscal year, according to library figures.
Cherbas said that with the addition of delivery as a permanent service, the library system’s Bookmobile is only used for special events.
The Philomath library restructured its hours slightly as of July 1 to stay open later on weekdays. Cherbas said that the changes were based on the observations from staff members, who noticed that when the facility closed at 5 p.m., the building could be full of patrons.
The Philomath Community Library, 1050 Applegate St., now is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. The Philomath library is closed on Sunday.
Another change at the Philomath Community Library is the extensions supervisor, who is charge of the facility and other satellite branches.
The previous extensions supervisor, Mary Nevin, worked for the library system for 18 years and her last day was May 12. Rachel Denue was appointed as the interim extensions supervisor and recruitment to permanently fill the role will occur in the fall.
The Philomath library building, which is owned and maintained by the city of Philomath, was built by volunteers and dedicated on June 4, 1995.
Nearly $225,000 in materials, labor and furniture was donated for the facility, including the work of two local contractors who served as construction managers. A Library Services and Construction Act grant provided $112,000 for the project, and an additional $175,000 was raised through other grants, donations and numerous local fundraisers, according to the library system.
Beverly Cleary provided a $20,000 donation for the library, Chavez said. The building’s children’s room is named after the author, who was born and raised in Oregon.
Before the Philomath library building was created, the town’s library was housed in a 1,200-square-foot corner of City Hall.
For more information on the Philomath Community Library, including a calendar of events, go to cbcpubliclibrary.net.