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County approves new $15,188 circulation program for library

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The Johnson County Public Library is a well-loved space in the heart of Mountain City. Locals can borrow books, rent movies, use library computers, research, find a comfortable nook to read or use a personal device, or reserve the Kathleen S. Mount meeting room for a club or event. During the May County Budget Committee meeting, Johnson County officials voted to purchase a new $15,188 circulation system that includes hardware, software, hosting services, and more for the library from The Library Corporation (TLC).

“I think it’s going to make it more efficient and people will be better served,” Taylor explained about the change.

The update is all about efficiency and part of a cohort of several other county and city libraries known as the Organization of Watauga Libraries, according to County Mayor Mike Taylor. It is collaboration between the Bristol Public Library, Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library, Greeneville/Greene County Public Library, Johnson City Library, Johnson County Public Library, Kingsport Public Library, Mosheim Public Library, Sullivan County Public Library, Unicoi County Public Library, and Washington County Public Library.

The update will officially launch once each group signs its required contract. As part of the contract, TLC will provide a week of remote training. The Johnson County Public Library’s current system is automated, so Library Director and Head Librarian Linda Icenhour believes there will not be a significant adjustment period.

“We go in together to purchase this type of system, and that makes it affordable for all the libraries, especially the smaller libraries like us,” said Icenhour.

This program upgrade is one update in a long line of others throughout the last four years. Back in October of 2017, library officials received a $100,000 Library Construction Grant from the Tennessee State Library and Archives to start physically expanding. Between 2017 and 2021, the Johnson County Public Library went through several updates, including adding a reading room, HVAC equipment room, and meeting room, and bathroom renovations, to name a few.

“People are aware of the need for a good library in the community and work to find grants to help improve and serve patrons,” Taylor explained the continued growth at the public library. “It’s an excellent library for our community.”

For more information on the Johnson County Public Library, call (423) 727-6544 or visit johnsoncolib.org. The library is currently on different hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic but is open to the public on Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 10 am to 3 pm, Tuesday from 10 am to 4 pm, and on Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. Icenhour hopes to reopen the library from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays starting next week.