Since assuming her new role as director of the Clark County Library System in February 2017, Ashley Graves has been on a roll to improve the local library.

Since assuming her new role as director of the Clark County Library System in February 2017, Ashley Graves has been on a roll to improve the local library.
“It doesn’t seem like a year. I started making changes from day one,” said Graves.
According to Graves, staff has embraced the use of available technology.
“We stopped typing the cards for the card catalog. We are solely computerized now,” said Graves, who added that the library has changed its computer system.
The new computer system is cheaper and offers more options to staff members and patrons to make their searches easier.
“It (the new system) also lets us send text messages and emails to people, whether they have a late fee, or if their book is due or if they have a hold. The text messaging feature is really rare for small libraries,” Graves said.
In addition, the library has started a monthly electronic newsletter and developed a new website. Graves noted that parts of the new website are still works in progress.
“We had a website, but it wasn’t functional. We went with a new URL and built a new website from scratch,” Graves said.
Graves also noted the library has expanded its digital collections and added downloadable books and magazines. This addition allows individuals to have digital access to the same material found in the library.
“We had e-books before. We really started promoting those and we saw a 150 percent increase in the people using our e-books last year,” said Graves.
In addition, content in the library has been rearranged, while old and outdated content was removed.
“Anything that was in bad condition or hadn’t been used in 15 years was thrown away. That ended up being several thousand volumes. Because of that, we were able to reorganize the library,” Graves said.
According to Graves, fiction content is now located upstairs, while African-American fiction content has been placed in an area of the library that is more visible and easily accessible.
“We also added four new collects in our juvenile room. We added big books, teen collection, board books and audio books,” Graves said.
A Friends of the Library Group was started in November. The group consists of volunteers whose mission is to advocate for the library, conduct fundraisers and provide volunteers.
The library restarted its Story Time Program, which is held at 10 a.m. each Friday. Story times are also available by appointment.
In addition, the library has changed its policy which would allow college students to receive a library card free of charge with a student ID. Library cards are administered free of charge, while a fee of $2 is levied to replace a card.
As far as future goals are concerned, Graves said she is hopeful to make necessary repairs to the building.
According to Graves, the library received a grant last year to make repairs to the front of the structure.
“Because this building is on the Historic Registry, all the plans have to be approved. It has been going back between the grant committee and the architect,” Graves explained.
Graves noted the plans have been approved and the project is currently in the bidding process. The bids are expected to close at the end of the month.
“If the building was not on the Historic Registry then those plans could have been faster, but we have to comply with their rules,” Graves said.
In addition, Graves is hopeful that by the summer the library will be able to offer Inner Library Loan, which would allow the local library to borrow books to distribute to people from other libraries.
In addition to the column on the outside, Graves said she is hopeful to make repairs to the library’s leaky roof.
“We had to match the grant money, so our repairs are going to be limited to what we can afford to take care of,” said Graves.
Plans are to continue to summer reading program and to do more fundraising campaigns. Although the library receives a funding from county property tax payments, Graves said more funds are needed to improve its services.
“Within the next year, we are going to have to do some serious campaign projects to bring in some revenue for the library,” Graves said.
In addition, plans are to remodel the building located behind library. The library currently has owner of the building.
“We would like to see that remodeled and turned into a programming space for kids. Even the public could use it for birthday parties,” Graves said.
Graves also noted that staff has applied for several grants which would allow both the Arkadelphia and Gurdon locations to secure a laptop and tablet.
There is no charge to use any of the services offered by the library.
“Unless you lose your card or your books or late or damaged. We try to provide as many services as we can at no cost,” Graves said.
Movies and magazines can be checked out for one week, while books can be checked out for three weeks.
For more information about the library, visit their website http://clarkcountylibrary.ar.gov or their social media accounts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clarkcountylibraryar and on Instagram at clarkcountylibraryar.