WHITE HALL – The Marion County Public Library System recently opened one of if not the first Express Libraries in West Virginia, outside the White Hall Public Safety Building.
Like many people, Cindy Stover can’t normally leave work to run errands during the day. While she can’t swing by the nearest library branch, she can easily get to the Express Library and check out a book, DVD or video game at any time.
“I can’t go to the library to go during the day, so this is an alternative for those people who can’t make it during regular hours,” said Stover, town coordinator for the Town of White Hall. “It has DVDs and books and you can actually go out there and get that on your own instead of going during business hours.”
The Express Library resembles a bus stop shelter, and contains what looks like a vending machine with an enclosed rotating cabinet of media, and a digital screen interface.
Having been in the works for about five years now, the library finally opened last week, allowing card holders to check out books from within its cabinets. Located in the parking lot of the White Hall Public Safety Building, the automated branch currently allows people to check out library items at any time.
“It’s taken us five years to get here,” said Erika Connelly, director of MCPLS. “It’s all about technology, you can even browse the collection; the unit is supposed to hold about 300 books.”
According to Connelly, the library administration is currently in the process of clearing up all the complications of the Express Library that come with its technology. With this process ongoing, she said the branch will have an official grand opening with a ribbon cutting in January when the Express Library is ready to operate at its full potential and provide check outs and returns.
“There are some kinks; our automation system has to connect to the machine,” Connelly said. “There are some bugs we have to work out with the developer, but it’s all coming together pretty quickly.”
Once it is at full operation, people will be able to search for books, DVDs and video games, check them out, return them and even pick up orders made through the library smartphone app.
Connelly also said the location of the Express Library is one of its greatest assets, seeing that White Hall has a large population compared to the service areas of other library branches. While there are already Marion County Library branches in Mannington, Fairview and Fairmont, the organization has not yet expanded south of Fairmont.
“White Hall, it’s where a lot of the people here in all the different communities in Fairmont end up,” she said. “It’s being developed, it has a big service population, so we were trying to branch out.”
The Express Library found its home in front of the Public Safety Building shortly after the facility became the base of the Town of White Hall. White Hall Town Council approved a motion to give the space to the Marion County Public Library System, and all the library had to do was construct the Express Library’s housing. Connelly also cited Stover as an integral part in getting the Express Library open.
“It started out they were going to put it somewhere in the space there,” Stover said. “The council gave them the space right outside the new Public Safety Building, so it’s nice that it’s right there.”
The Express Library is like a dream come true for Connelly, who has been working on the project from the beginning.
“It’s like a real library location, but there is just nobody there,” Connelly said. “It feels really great, I remember we were standing there as it was coming off the truck and we were just near tears because it was so exciting that a five-year project can finally be wrapped up.”
Connelly said the library will tentatively hold a grand opening around the third week of January, to introduce the public to the concept of the Express Library.