BY KARISSA MILLER
The Iredell County Board of Commissioners Tuesday recognized the Iredell County Public Library staff earlier this week for their N.C. Public Library Directors Association awards.
In December 2020 the Iredell County Public Library received two awards during the association’s virtual banquet.
The first was a Literacy Award for medium-sized libraries for its Express Books program.
The second was a Staff Development Award for Medium Library for its Staff Professional Development Curriculum.
Chairman James Mallory said the Iredell Library system has always been about more than books.
“You tend to think of the library as like a museum — it never changes … it’s there. How could they do anything to keep up with the times during an information age?” Mallory said.
“It’s amazing the kind of programs they have devised, leveraging technology and other resources the state has through the Cardinal system — making the library an extremely important component to our quality of life.”
Commissioner Scottie Brown also expressed his appreciation for the staff’s efforts and their dedication to the community.
When many libraries across the state were closing their doors during the COVID-19 shutdown last spring, the local library system implemented a program to help serve patrons safely.
According to Iredell Library Director Juli Moore, the three libraries were providing limited services at that time.
Due to COVID-19, Moore said, the library staff decided to launch Express Books earlier than anticipated.
Express Books is part of the library system’s offerings for patrons who want reading recommendations. It also allows patrons to continue to check out books with contactless pickup.
How it works: Patrons fill out a form telling the library staff their favorite genres, authors and interests. Staff members will then choose books for them. Those books are then available on the patron’s pickup date of choice and branch of choice.
Since March 2020 the library has filled 668 Express Books orders.
“It’s been a very popular program with our patrons. Our staff enjoyed having that interaction even from a distance to be able to assist patrons,” Moore said.
Also, during this time, the library realized that some patrons could not get online without going to the library or didn’t have digital access at their home.
So, while other communities were shutting the doors to their library, the county libraries remained open. Staff stepped up safety measures quickly so that they could remove barriers for the county’s student population who were without Internet.
While the Iredell library has continued to thrive and remain a busy service-oriented place that offers robust services, collections and programming to all residents, Moore felt it was also important for her staff to thrive.
Moore’s goal was for all of her staff members to receive at least 40 hours of professional development each fiscal year.
She said that once they obtained that goal, she wanted to have a curriculum made for staff.
“It wasn’t just about checking a box, but I wanted it to be meaningful to their position,” Moore explained.
A committee of three people were tasked with creating the curriculum.
The curriculum, she said, was based off the county’s annual evaluation form and broken down into eight categories. They also broke it down by department and by job, for example, the information services department.
“When you hire new people, you have a good starting point for them to find meaningful professional development,” Moore said.
She also wanted to make it a document that could be revised so that it stayed relevant to employees. Additionally, the staff’s professional development hours can be tracked and feedback can be provided on the knowledge and skills of a particular area.
The library staff has logged 926 combined training hours since the beginning of this fiscal year.
Visit the library’s Facebook page to see a video on Express Books and check out other crafts, children’s stories and posts.