KNOW YOUR LIBRARY
Coronado Center Library is defined as small, private and recreational. Its users also say it does a wonderful job of meeting the needs of Hot Springs Village property owners. Dottie Williams, one of two co-librarians who keep things running smoothly, has seen a dramatic and steady growth in the library's use since she came on board in 2006. Williams orders the books, DVDs, newspapers, magazines and other media flowing into the library, so she is constantly taking the measure of what Villagers want to read, watch and listen to.
Her ordering task begins each month with a catalog from 180-year-old Baker & Taylor, the world's largest distributor of books and entertainment. With $2.2 billion in sales and 3,750 employees, Baker & Taylor's core business is distributing media - books, music and DVDs - to libraries throughout the world. The catalog lists what will be released in two or three months. Williams begins with the list of fiction because that's 90 percent of what Villagers check out, and half of those are mysteries. (Williams enjoys explaining there is a big difference between mysteries - where the crime takes place at the beginning of the book - and thrillers and suspense novels, where events continually unfold throughout the book.)
The Village has a contract with Baker & Taylor to receive 360 books a year - an average of 30 a month. Williams asks co-librarian Margaret Weeter and the regular library volunteers to go over the monthly list and tell her what they would like to read. "We have a lot of tastes represented," Williams said, "and the volunteers really know what people like to check out."
Williams steers away from non-fiction "because it goes out of date so quickly," she said. However, all non-fiction titles requested by patrons are considered and often ordered. Most of those are how-to and craft books. When the catalog has been reviewed, Williams says she usually orders only one copy of each book, knowing there may be 40 or 50 patrons on the waiting list for new releases by popular authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts. If it's a month with few blockbusters, Williams may add an extra copy of a popular author's new book to cut down on the waiting time. Another boost comes from Villagers who buy bestsellers, read them and promptly donate them to the library. Books from Baker & Taylor arrive at various times. Williams is careful to keep them off the shelves until their official release date. Putting them out early can jeopardize the library's contract with Baker & Taylor.
Because of the Village's tight financial situation, the library's budget was cut 6.7 percent this year to $15,000. This despite the fact that the library is one of the few Village amenities where use has continued to grow in recent years. Williams spends about $6,700 a year leasing books from Baker and Taylor, and $1,700 on magazines. More is spent on audio books, DVDs and audio CDs. The library also subscribes to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, Hot Springs Village Voice and The Wall Street Journal. The rest of the library budget is spent on supplies.
Friends of Coronado Center Library (FOCCL) was founded in 2009 to provide financial assistance to the expanding facility. FOCCL has purchased many large-print books, DVDs, audio books and audio CDs. Yet its major contribution has been shelving for the growing collection of material - 280 linear feet in the last year.
Today there are more than 16,150 cataloged items in the library, plus thousands of paperpacks which are not cataloged. All items can be checked out for three weeks except new titles, which may be checked out for 14 days. Current magazines can't be checked out until a new issue comes in. Once a book or other item is added to the library's catalog, it can be reserved or renewed on-line, giving Villagers access to the library from home. Books on order can be reserved in advance by filling out forms which are available at the library. Because the library is basically a recreational facility for Villagers, it has a limited number of reference books. "They're just too expensive and have limited use," Williams said.
There is a small collection of children's books, but limited demand has enabled the library to focus on adult fare. Another item not on the library's agenda are e-books. FOCCL's board explored the new technology recently but agreed the field is too unsettled to warrant any investment until a common technology and delivery system is established..