The Clay City Council passed a motion Monday night to pay for the services of a new part-time library clerk at the Clay Public Library for six months
Councilwoman Jackie Hambrick said that after six months, the council will review the effectiveness of the additional staff and consider whether more help is needed at the library.
The new employee will work 30 hours per two-week pay period at $10 per hour and will be responsible for shelving materials and assisting with circulation.
“The more employees you have, the more services you can offer and a better service your patrons get,” Library Director Karen Moody said. “With us continually increasing (in business), I don’t see that we’re ever going to go backwards.”
The library currently has only two employees. Moody works 40 hours per week and Assistant Library Director Joy Lee works 33 hours per week. The library is open 51 hours per week.
Moody said that, among other things, the small staff causes a security concern. According to Moody, there are many days when only one person is working at the library.
“Having 15 more (hours per week) would definitely help, but there would be some hours a few days that there would still just be one of us there,” she said. “Right now, if I get sick or I need a vacation and it doesn’t happen to be when Joy’s available, I would have to close the library. That’s not something I’m going to do if there’s any way to avoid that.”
The number of items checked out from the library has consistently increased since the library opened in 2010, Moody said.
In 2010, 5,282 items were checked out, in 2011, 32,650 items were checked out, and in 2012, 47,079 items were checked out. The library averages about 1,200 people a month and saw over 1,500 people in June.
“Circulation increases every month,” Moody said. “We’re doing really well. We are circulating more than Graysville, Tarrant, Fairfield, Adamsville and Warrior, and are about the same as Fultondale.”
Fultondale Public Library, which has similar hours and circulation to Clay, has five full-time employees and three part-time employees.
Moody said the extra help is needed quickly and that additional staff will allow for a more personal relationship with the library’s patrons.
“We love being personal with our patrons,” she said. “When we started off, I would typically read to the children and do puzzles with them in the floor. I loved that part and I see their little disappointed faces when they come in and I have to say, ‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Karen’s busy’ or ‘I can’t do this.’ That’s not really the goal that I want for the library. The additional staff will allow us to maintain this personal small-town library that we’ve started.”