Thursday, June 30, 2016

Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System in the Spotlight

Aerial view of ARCPLS old and new headquarters
The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System (ARCPLS) is comprised of the Headquarters Library and five branches scattered throughout the greater Augusta, Georgia area.  The Headquarters Library was opened in 2010 across the street from the previous main location, transporting services and collections from a 3500 square foot building to a 95,000 square foot, three floor facility equipped with computers on each level, dedicated Children’s and YA Areas, study rooms and an auditorium with a collapsible wall affording versatile uses of the building’s largest meeting space.

The remaining five locations include the Diamond Lakes Branch, which shares building space with a recreation/community center known as the hub of a very active sports program serving athletes of all ages.  The Freidman and Maxwell Branch libraries are each slated for extensive renovations within the next few years due to a community-backed SPLOST initiative.  Upon completion, these branches that will have been in existence well over a combined total of 70 years, will be able to continue to serve their communities within familiar walls using state-of-the-art library fixtures and resources.

Appleby Library, Augusta, GA
Undoubtedly, the hidden jewels of the system are housed in its oldest buildings.  The Wallace Branch is one of the most popular meeting room destinations of all of the facilities.  Its location, less than five blocks away from the Augusta University Medical Campus (formerly the Medical College of Georgia), next door and across the street from two high schools and across the street from a respected preschool makes it a convenient destination for students of all ages.  Its historic significance to the city is invaluable as it was originally built as the first public library location to specifically serve African-American patrons in the 1950’s.  Finally, the beautiful Appleby Library is located in a stately, historic antebellum home willed to the system many years ago.  Parents regularly remark that their children are the 3rd generation in their family to attend the branch’s very popular story times.

A strengthened emphasis on programming is the latest effort by ARCPLS to transform the system into one that leans out into the community to bring patrons into the fold, while not necessarily into the doors.  Annual signature programs such as the Augusta Literary Festival, Star Wars Reads Day and the Evenings In Appleby Gardens Concert Series regularly draw thousands of attendees.  However, lessons on how to become a “virtual patron” teach those unable or unwilling to travel to a branch how to best maximize online resources such as Georgia Download Destination for book downloads, Zinio for periodical downloads and Pronunciator and Tumblebooks for distance literacy learning in over 80 languages.  GLASS Augusta rounds out the system’s offerings as the department provides Talking Books outreach to 21 surrounding counties.

Under the leadership of Library Director Mashell Fashion who has spent the bulk of her 30 year career with the system, ARCPLS looks forward to honoring its past while simultaneously exceeding goals poised to make it a model public library system of the future.

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