By Tim Leeds
The Havre-Hill County Library is joining other libraries around the country in celebrating National Library Week, April 1-7.
Part of the celebration is from the work to add four other local libraries to the Havre-Hill County Library's online collection catalog. The collections of the Blaine County Library, the Big Sandy Branch Library, the Harlem Public Library and the Liberty County Library will soon be available through the collections link at the Havre-Hill County Library, as the local public schools already are. The website also has a link to Montana State University-Northern's Vande Bogart Library website.
The Havre-Hill County Library, which opened as a merged version of the former Havre Library and Hill County Library during National Library Week in April 1986, offers a variety of services and programs for the area. Library Director Bonnie Williamson said the library is a public organization, funded by tax dollars and run by the Library Board of Directors. She said the board's duties include evaluating and hiring and firing the library director, setting the budget, overseeing updating the facility, work ing with the Friends of the Library, and generally setting the policies for the library, which must be approved by the State Library.
"So there's enough money to do all the dancing we want," Williamson said. " They work hard for nothing."
The board consists of two chosen by the Hill county commissioners, two chosen by the mayor of Havre, and two chosen by the board itself. They can serve a maximum of two five-year terms.
Williamson said the library is overseen by the State Library, which approves the board's policies, requires the library to file an annual report, requires a minimum number of hours and requires the library to have certified staff.
The library has a full time staff of five, including Williamson, with a large staff of part time and volunteer workers as well.
The library has a large selection of services as well as their collection of books, magazines, videos and microfiche. Williamson said the latest official count of their collection is nearly 70,000 items. The library also has photocopiers, three microfiche readers, four computer workstations with Internet connections and one workstation hooked to the genealogical section, word processing stations and a meeting room.
Computers are becoming more and more a part of the library. The collection is fully indexed on a computer database, the circulation department is computerized, and the library has access to the Gale Group's Infotrac service, with an indexed collection of more than 3,500 periodicals and reference works, many with full text access at the workstation. The index is split into seven separate databases, such as expanded academic abstracts, children K-12, a health reference center and business and company profiles.
The addition of more libraries' collections to the database in Havre will continue to expand the usefulness of computers, both at the library and on the Internet from the patrons' homes.
Williamson said once the collections and circulations of those libraries are fully computerized, patrons will be able to view the collections of all of those libraries and use their one library card at any of them. She said the collections are pretty well all in the system, and once the staff of the libraries finish training in the system early in May it should be all set to go.
The library provides regular events and services to the area. Speakers and events are often there in programs in conjunction with the Montana Committee for the Humanities; there is a preschool story hour every Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. and a summer reading reading program.
The library also has community fund raisers and functions, such as the book sale conducted by the Friends of the Library during Havre Festival Days and their pie social held on Valentine's Day, and the Christmas in other countries displays and events held during the holidays.
The library does several activities in conjunction with the Montana Committee for the Humanities, including the recently completed winter reading series. The theme for this year was "Tales from the Last Best Place: A Selection of Montana Literature." Williamson said they try to hold at least three programs a year with the committee.
Another program will be April 20, with professional photographer Bruce Selyem from Bozeman. Selyem will present "Landmarks in a Sea of Grass," a slide show with current and historic photographs illustrating the history of the grain elevator industry.
The Havre-Hill County Library will be hosting a meeting of the committee this month as well. They will meet at the library on April 21-22.
The library's regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call the Havre-Hill County Library at 265-2123 for more information.
On the 'net: Havre-Hill County Library: http://www.mtha.mt.lib.org