story by Katrice Williams
photos by Shelia Scott
Most will agree that “knowledge is power.” That said, why not make sure that all cities, large and small, are filled with public libraries? Interestingly enough, Pooler Library has been a diamond in the rough for a long time now. As it first opened its doors in 1982, it has been faithfully servicing the local community ever since. Pooler Library is part of Live Oak Public Libraries, which is under the leadership of Tom Sloan, Executive Director, along with a regional board of trustees. Live Oak Public Libraries encompass an array of libraries across Georgia, including 12 Chatham County libraries, two Effingham County libraries and two Liberty County libraries. Pooler Library certainly stands firmly behind the Live Oak Public Libraries’ mission to its customers: “to provide excellent, responsive services to enrich people’s lives, support life-long learning, and build and enhance our communities.”
Jennifer Taylor-Pack recently assumed the position of Community Library Manager. The Waycross native spent over 17 years in Tallahassee, Florida, where she was the department manager for a central library. Though not long at Pooler Library, Jennifer feels that she has found a second family and has fell in love with the local area.
“It’s such a warm, caring environment; they have welcomed me. It’s more of a family. I’m so excited to be here. I just love the community,” she said.
Having over 15 years of library experience under her belt, Jennifer is utterly knowledgeable about school-wide standards, academic demands, reading initiatives and a myriad of other beneficial information, as she was a high school teacher following her college career. Hence, Jennifer understands the extraordinary benefits of attainable information and resources.
“As a child, I always wanted to be a librarian. I always wanted to help people answer questions. I’ve been on both sides of the equation—as a student and as a teacher. Life-long learning is so important; we are always changing, and we are always growing,” Jennifer stated.
Jennifer feels privileged to have a “terrific team to serve the community as the face of the library,” able to give each customer a “warm and friendly greeting” and assist them as much as possible.
“Whatever each user needs, we try to do whatever we can to meet those needs. We just try to meet them where they are and get them to where they want to be. We want everyone to receive timely, attentive service whenever they walk in the door,” she added.
Beatrice Saba, Director of Library Services, completely agrees with Jennifer. With 23 years of library experience, Beatrice feels that customer service is always non-compromising. Therefore, she strives to “deliver quality library services to the community.”
“Customer service is real important; it’s key. We’re achieving and trying to be a ‘Publix’ or a ‘Chick-fil-A’ because we truly believe the community is why we’re here; we’re here to serve the community,” Beatrice said.
Live Oak Public Libraries have a new face, as it “became a ‘PINES Library’ this year,” which is “the overall ILS (Integrated Library System)” that is used for library services, including “circulation, check-outs, processing and purchasing materials,” along with other system functions. It is offered through “Georgia Public Library Service, which is very responsive to user needs;” therefore, any problems faced while implementing the PINES System are immediately addressed. “PINES (Public Information Network for Electronic Services) is a Georgia system that allows card holders free access to books and other materials in 300 libraries and affiliated service locations throughout the state. PINES has access to more than 10 million books and materials that can be checked out and returned to any participating library free of charge.” Jennifer sees this as a great benefit. Beatrice, too, feels that the system is an enormous improvement.
“Not only are patrons able to checkout from our three-county areas, they can get things from Statesboro…they can get things from Athens. The items can be returned at any PINES Library; that, in itself, is a plus for us,” Beatrice mentioned.
That said, “the collection has totally increased,” though there has been a limit placed on individual check-outs; this allows for better “control over the collection.” Customers can “navigate the catalog online or through an application,” whether they are at a branch or on the go. Understanding the various changes that the new system implementation would cause, Live Oak Public Libraries forgave all patrons’ fines and fees—a very generous gesture.
The team at the Pooler Library knows that a big part of how valuable a library is to the community lies with the services and programs that are provided. In addition to customary library activities including resource check-outs and returns, providing Internet services, printing and copying and a host of other internal services, the library has a calendar filled with notable events each month.
“We offer so many services. There is something for everyone when they walk through the door. We want to provide services that library users are interested in—altering programs to meet their needs and desires,” Jennifer said.
Actually, during each month, all kids over five-years-old can enjoy LEGO Club every Saturday morning. Additionally, young children can participate in story time each Wednesday morning or even “Cool and Crazy Crafts,” or a “Music and Movement” class later that day. Some customers may be interested in films and games on Tuesdays or the library’s “Read, Sing and Play” program on Mondays, designed especially with young ones in mind. The tutorial services have also been a big hit. Online tutoring is available in nearly every subject. Individuals can “connect with a live tutor;” assistance is given by qualified individuals with in-depth expertise in the subject matter at hand. Jennifer values the library’s involvement in literacy nights at local schools, where students can see how reading can become tons of fun for everyone.
“It’s important that we are in tune with what the schools are looking for. It’s important that they know that we’re here,” she stated.
Jennifer understands the importance of outreach activities. She was grateful to recently participate, alongside Live Oak Public Libraries’ Outreach Director Rita Harris, in The Savannah Quill Sweets, Treats & Reads Fall Festival. Jennifer was happy for the opportunity to interact with potential customers and even hand out new library cards to many of them.
The Pooler Library is truly serious about customer service and satisfaction. Thus far, this year has been busy and successful. In fact, some 2018 fun facts (and still counting) include approximately: 68,450 customer visits, 132,400 checked-out items, 39,650 reference transactions and 290 programs attended by 9,800 attendees.
Regarding the impressive statistics, Jennifer smiled and said, “We’re well-loved.”
Looking ahead, Jennifer would love to have a bit more space for customers to enjoy (especially considering Pooler’s phenomenal growth), as the current space does have its challenges at times; limited parking space, too, can be an obstacle, especially during busy times.
“It would be nice for us to have a bigger building. Having the support of Chatham County and the City of Pooler would be incredible for that,” she said.
Jennifer wants to encourage all customers to feel free to visit the library so that the staff can learn firsthand what their various interests and needs are; hence, the library team will be able to spearhead additional value-added initiatives for the community while incorporating even more desirable services, activities and programs for the public to enjoy.
Jennifer Taylor-Pack, alongside the entire Pooler Library Team, is determined to keep community first.
“Come in and tell us what you want…what you want more of…what you want to see different. We’re definitely open to that. This is your library, so come and enjoy it.”