Turning the page: Portage County Public Library update
Taylor J. Hale
PORTAGE COUNTY – Portage County Public Library staff have been hard at work preparing for fall and winter activities as the warmth of summer drifts into chilly autumn days, but new programming isn’t the only shift coming to the Portage County libraries. Area Director Larry Oathout relayed the following updates coming to county facilities:
New self-checkout machines
Self-checkout machines are set to come to the downtown Stevens Point branch by the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020. The devices will help residents avoid waiting in lines while checking out their library items.
“People love to come and talk to staff and others, but our research shows that a large number of residents also spend less than five minutes in the buildings,” Oathout said. “So they are coming to grab a quick item or something they have waiting on hold and then they are out the door. These will allow people to grab-and-go without spending time in line.”
The machines are projected to cost roughly $30,000. Oathout and his peers see the devices as a way for staff to spend more time helping visitors, rather than being stuck behind a check-out counter.
Library Board of Trustee members discussed the upcoming 2020 budget at a meeting on Sept. 4.
Oathout noted that the budget would remain similar to last year, adding that the system’s Capital Improvement plan should finish in 2020 in tandem with the addition of the self-checkout machines in Stevens Point.
“Our proposed budget will stay flat for 2020, so no changes,” he said. “We should finish up our Capital Improvement Plan in 2020, which will see new self-check machines at Stevens Point.”
Summer program reports
Program reports show strong numbers for youth classes held throughout the county. Plover, Rosholt and Almond library branches hosted a total of 58 events for 1,276 participants over the summer months alone. Over 1,000 kids and young adults enrolled in the summer reading program for 2019; 53 percent of young readers involved stayed active in the group throughout the summer.