Spend some time at the Marengo Union Library when you get a chance. Check out some books, sure; or return the ones that are due. But sit down for a while and just watch the comings and the goings. Perhaps you’ve come for a special presentation of interest to you. You might be bringing your child for a club meeting, an art project, to play chess or Lego. Look around and see who else is at the library.

“It’s a happy place to be,” states Denise Hotchkiss, the Library’s Patron Services Coordinator. Because every library staffer wears several hats, Hotchkiss is also the library’s Cataloguer. Which brings up the question— what exactly is a Library catalogue these days?

Hotchkiss remembers seeing others enter book information onto cards that were filed in long thin drawers. Some of our older readers will remember these card catalogues. “People still refer to the card catalog,” she laughs. “But there aren’t any cards in drawers anymore. Everything is stored on computers, of course.” Hotchkiss spends a good amount of time with data entry and management. Each new book is catalogued in the computer, physically marked with a sticker to indicate it is new and placed in a special section of the library. After six months, she changes the book’s data to remove it from the list of new books. Its tag is removed and it gets a place in the regular library stacks.

Hotchkiss also enters all requests for new purchases in a computer spreadsheet where she can track the number of requests and verify when a book has been purchased.

So our library has views like the one in the photo above—a bank of computers flanked by shelves of books. “Libraries are evolving,” Hotchkiss remarks. While there are those who wonder if libraries are relevant anymore, she is a strong proponent of the idea of a bricks and mortar library. She insists, “We will always need libraries! At the library we can provide so much that people need—a place to work, technology, information, help, and most of all, contact with other people.”

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