Community library gains help from SIU

By Elizabeth zinchuk

A library in Mounds faced inoperable conditions until SIU volunteers provided a push last month.

A group of more than 20 faculty, staff, and student employees helped library officials and residents in Mounds restore the public library to a working condition by helping organize books and shelves Nov. 23. The library, at 418 First St. in Mounds, had toppled shelving, disorganized books, malfunctioning computers and other damages. Mark Watson, SIU associate professor of library affairs, was the first person Mounds officials contacted.

Watson plans to bring another group of volunteers down this weekend to help with finishing the job.

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“I just thought it was a good thing to do, I grew up here in southern Illinois and I remember people in southern Illinois really had a lot a pride in SIU and looked on it as belonging to them,” Watson said. “I thought ‘well you know we kind of have gotten away from that.’”

Caroline Dakin, Mounds library board president, said the reason the library was in such as state, was not because of vandalism as initially reported by some news sources.

“Vandalism isn’t exactly the right word,” Dakin said. “I don’t know where that started.”

Dakin said the issue was with a former librarian. The library municipal board noticed an issue within four to six weeks of hiring the librarian.

“We had an librarian who was under the impression she cold just change things around to suit herself,” Dakin said. “In fairness, I think she thought she was going to make improvements, but what had happened was that she had some help to move all the shelves to places where they weren’t supposed to be and didn’t realize she had to have them in compliance with the ADA, American Disabilities Act guidelines.”

Despite requests to have the former employee put the library in a functioning order, Dakin said nothing ever happened and the library was not usable. Dakin said in order to reopen the Mounds library board is looking at applications to hire a new librarian.

“Her and her helpers removed all the books, and when they started putting them back, they put them back anywhere and in no particular order,” Dakin said. “They were completely in disarray.”

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Cindy Kvamme, a library specialist in information resources management, also took part in going to Mounds to help resort the books. Kvamme said a lot of what she did involved sorting books using the Dewey Decimal System, a system used by libraries to classify nonfictional publications into subject categories.

Kvamme described the library before she and the rest of the group from SIU started helping, and said it was in disarray.

“It’s wasn’t usable, but there weren’t any books torn up beyond being able to be used,” Kvamme said.

Kvamme said she believes when people need help, you should give back as much as you can.

“Libraries are important and getting it back open again as soon as possible for the people of Mounds and for the kids and the community at large is a good thing,” Kvamme said. “They couldn’t have done it by themselves.”

In a search for some help, Dakin said one of the other library board members called a contact at Morris Library, Mark Watson. She said without the help of the group from SIU, little progression would have been made.

“It has been such a blessing,” Dakin said. “There was just so much of it that working two, three, or four hours at a time wasn’t getting much done.”

Dakin said the library experience the SIU group had helped in getting the things done efficiently.

“They just had a plan and everyone knew what he or she was working on,” Dakin said. “They made great strides and we are so very grateful.”

The Mounds Public Library is a valuable asset that needs to be opened, Dakin said. Besides Mounds residents, Shawnee College students, high school students, and adults seeking jobs seek the library’s resources, she said.

“We have people come in and use the computers to check their unemployment statuses, to apply online for various positions,” Dakin said. “We have students from Shawnee College and high school students come in to get materials for term papers and so forth.”

Watson said the library is continuing to accept donations to help out with their facility.

“We put our request that people donate to the library and we have been getting that out as much as we can,” Watson said. “It’s not a community that has a lot and they can use the help.”

Donations to assist in improving the library facility may be sent to Caroline Dakin, president of the library board, to P.O. Box 82, Mounds, IL 62964.

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