Jeffersonville Township Public Library (JTPL), a beautiful building totally renovated in January 2007, is located in downtown Jeffersonville, along the Ohio River, across from Louisville KY. The building is architecturally unique and very beautiful. The architecture was intentionally created to parallel the fossils and the Ohio River in the Falls of Ohio State Park. The beauty throughout the building was in obvious and obscure locations.
An interesting sculpture by Jeptha Barnard Bright, Jr. (Barney Bright) is located in the center of one of several waterfalls. It represents its creator’s impressions of the Devonian time period when the Falls of the Ohio fossil beds were being formed. The sculpture is composed of copper tubing welded over with 400 pounds of bronze, sitting on a base of Indiana limestone.
Another unique feature was the library bookcases which ends represented the Falls and the Ohio River sediment in three layers, represented by three different wood grains divided by a flowing piece of wood representing water. Some bookcase ends even have a patterned glass, representing water and fossils.
During my visit, several staff took time to explain their numerous programs and services offered to very diverse patrons. Each public library must decide what services are most important to their patrons and JTPL is doing an excellent job of working with all types of individuals of people in an urban setting.
Libby Pollard began as the JTPL Director in September 2008. Libby’s background in academic and public libraries prepared her for the diverse community the library serves. Most new public library directors in Indiana face many challenges in their jobs given the changing landscape of budgets, capital fund designation, national economic trends, and eGovernment. The Jeffersonville Library has dedicated, friendly, and creative staff that provide excellent customer service to their patrons in this changing environment.
As I toured the Library, it was obvious that staff were very proud of their facility, programs, and patrons. They described their excellent programs and services and their relationships with patrons. Also, the camaraderie among coworkers was incredible. Working together as a team, they have accomplished so much with a relatively small staff.
Art is everywhere at the Library. In the program room is a large colorful puppet theater where teens write and perform puppet theatre productions for the smaller children. Throughout the Library, children’s artwork was displayed as part of a cooperative program with the local elementary schools. Visible also were art papers from a recent Dr. Seuss’ birthday party, The Big Brag. Over 500 children and parents attended the birthday party to listen to music and readings, watch a puppet play and the infamous Green Eggs and Ham movie on 16 mm film, and devour a huge Seuss-themed birthday cake.
Like many public libraries, volunteers are an integral part of JTPL’s programming and services. They are assisted by several retired teachers who provide homework assistance in the children’s department and throughout the library. They also rely on the help of several special needs volunteers who participate in volunteer activities that meet community service and social help program requirements.
As I mentioned before, the Jeffersonville community is as unique as the library itself. One unique factor is the large transient population that visits the Jeffersonville Township Public Library. A homeless shelter and soup kitchen is only one block from the Library. The director and staff were happy that they could help the children and adults from these shelters with literacy and computer training. Additionally, if they need unemployment benefits or help finding a job, knowledgeable staff are always available to assist.
Latchkey children are also regulars and are known by name. Staff help them with their homework or computer assignments on the JTPL’s 12 designated children’s computers. The children’s and public service librarians also do extensive outreach by visiting local schools at least once a week to talk about their programs or assist the schools in any way possible.
The JTPL also provides unique services to a growing Hispanic population in Jeffersonville. They assembled backpacks for children, parents, and teachers that contain bilingual books with colorful props, movies, games, and puppets. There is a Spanish and English guide on how to use the interesting and entertaining items included in the backpack. Book bags designed for book clubs have also been assembled for use at JTPL, but they have also been interlibrary loaned.
The JTPL was bustling throughout my visit. All sixteen public computers were in use, with more people waiting their turn. The JTPL is a community center both literally and physically. Everyone, not just registered library patrons, can use the computers and other library resources, and are always welcome. On this day, it was my pleasure to be one of the many guests at the Jeffersonville Township Public Library.
View the Jeffersonville Township Library Gallery