Library System looks back at history

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Libraries offer more to community by coming together

The Barry-Lawerence Regional Library System consolidated from the two-county library system in 1973, and was the first district in the state of Missouri to do so.

Gina Milburn, director of library systems at Barry-Lawerence Regional Library, said being a consolidated library district simply means that all the libraries in Barry and Lawrence counties came together to offer the public a larger selection, and easier access.

“We run a library system with multiple branches, and there are only six or seven in the state that have done this,” she said. “As a consolidated library district, we are also considered a political subdivision, which means we are our own taxing authority. We survive on property tax that we are allowed to collect by vote from the two counties.”

Milburn said the library district currently consists of 10 branches, but the Purdy branch will be closing on March 1.

“We have a large collection of items in our system,” she said. “We are right around 205,664 items, and that really just means that since we have so much material, people are more than likely to find something that they really want. What we don’t have we can get from other places with interlibrary loan.”

Milburn said having accessibility to such a variety of material is now greatly expanded because of the access to E-checkout.

“People now can download the Hoopla or Libby app to checkout online books, movies, audio, magazines and music,” she said.

Milburn said for her, one of the benefits of being a consolidated library is that everything runs smoothly from the regional office located in the Monett branch.

“We have a delivery system that is a huge advantage to the public,” she said. “If someone wanted a book from Cassville but didn’t want to drive down there, then three times a week we have deliveries and the driver will pick up the book and take it to whichever branch it is needed at.”

Milburn said instead of having 10 small libraries that are spread out between the two counties, people now have access to material at all 10 branches instead of just one.

“If we were 10 different libraries, people would have to have 10 different library cards,” she said. “However, because we are consolidated one library card will allow access to all of the locations in our district.”

Milburn said there is power in having the collective.

“What a small branch can provide is vastly different from what a larger branch can provide,” she said. “The advantage there to the public is having access to everything and many more services.”

According to Milburn, the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library even offers homebound deliveries.

“If someone can’t get out, we will bring books to them,” she said. “Libraries are awesome, and we offer so many different things for the community.”

Milburn said if the library can raise more tax funds, it would like to get a bookmobile back in service.

“With that we can serve communities that don’t actually have a library,” she said.

For more information about obtaining a library card for the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library, people can contact their local branch, or call 417-235-6646.

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