As of Sunday, Lincoln County libraries officially form their own independent system, following a months-long process of splitting from the regional system with Gaston County.
Library Director Jennifer Sackett told the Times-News last week that the transition has been quite successful, with the biggest undertaking having been the separation of the catalog. That process began at the end of May and went live the first week of June.
An upgrade to the catalog software has also now been completed.
“Everything has gone smoothly so far,” she added.
For library patrons, the biggest adjustment will be remembering that books checked out in Lincoln County libraries will also have to be returned within the county, as holds will no longer cross county lines. That cutoff occurred in May, allowing Gaston books to filter out of the system.
Nonetheless, out-of-county library cards will be available for free, as fees have been waived under a three-year agreement that could later be renewed.
The Lincoln County Library System will also begin distributing new library cards to patrons, with adults and youth receiving different designs. On those cards will be the library system’s new logo. Patrons will be offered a “combo pack” containing both the regular card and a key tag, Sackett said.
They will be able to use one or both of these options, allowing them more flexibility.
There will also be a Quick Response (QR) Code on the back of the cards that, when scanned, will take patrons to the new library website at www.mylincolnlibrary.org.
“We’re trying to take advantage of new technology,” Sackett added.
As the Times-News previously reported, the county’s library system was recently announced as a recipient of a $100,000 technology grant of federal funds, awarded by the state, to go toward new self-checkout stations for the three branch libraries in Lincolnton, Denver and Vale.
Since Lincoln County libraries were not previously operating as part of a stand-alone system, they were not eligible to receive this type of grant funding until now.
Sackett said she expects the new self-checkout system to be implemented in late August or early September.
Also part of the library system’s new independence was the opportunity to design this year’s summer reading program on its own.
“It’s the first time we were able to go out and plan for ourselves,” Sackett said.
And next year, when they aren’t tied up with the separating of the system, she hopes they will be able to offer even more through the program.
Sackett noted that another significant improvement is the new system’s advantage account with the N.C. Digital Library, which will allow Lincoln County patrons to have priority on certain digital titles and collections.
“It was a real team effort to make this transition go as smoothly as possible,” Sackett said, adding that the county has been very supportive and that she hopes the result is well received by patrons.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted to separate from the Gaston-Lincoln Regional Library System last summer after the state changed some of its policies regarding regional libraries and following a careful look at both financial and administrative considerations.