Thursday, April 6, 2017

Is Olney the only Olney?

No, Olney is not the only Olney!

Lately we've received calls from customers who were trying to access their MCPL library accounts online but were having trouble logging in. We checked their accounts. Were they up to date? Did they use the right PIN? After exhausting the possibilities we finally concluded these callers were on the wrong website. And guess what? They were! They were visiting the website of our doppelg√§nger library—Olney Public Library in Olney, Illinois 

To clear up the confusion, Olney Library in Illinois added a helpful note to their website:

Message on Olney, IL library website directing Maryland patrons to MCPL's Olney branch

We were so appreciative (and delighted!) they posted our information that we reached out to thank them and learn more. Below are highlights of our conversation with Judy Whitaker, Olney Public Library Director (IL), and Kathryn, library staff.

MCPL: Thanks so much for placing MCPL’s contact information on your website! We had no idea Olney customers in Maryland were confusing the libraries. How did you first discover this?

Map of Illinois showing location of the city of Olney. Judy: We received phone calls and would ask customers for their name and what they had checked out, and nothing would come up. At one point I received a call from a teacher asking to bring students for a class trip and the visit was scheduled, but something she said was not right. She said, We’re just down the street… and I thought, we don’t have any schools down the street! Another time, a salesman called and was convinced we had talked in person, but then I mentioned we were in Olney, Illinois.

I think there are about five Olney Libraries, but we’ve only received calls from Maryland residents.

MCPL: That’s too funny! Well, Olney Library in Maryland is part of the Montgomery County Public Library system (MCPL) with 21 branches, including one at a correctional facility. Can you tell us a little about Olney Public Library in Illinois?

The original library in Olney, IL
The original Carnegie Library in Olney, IL,
now serves as a local history museum
Judy: Sure. The original library was established around the 1900s as a ‘Carnegie Library.’ [Andrew Carnegie originally funded many public libraries—more than 1,600 across the U.S.-- at the turn of the 20th century. You can learn more here.] It was moved in 1995 to a new, accessible building and is a city library. Olney, Illinois has about 9,000 people, so we hope the library can serve as one of the centers of the community.

The new building has an open concept with a lot of windows. We’re also part of a larger consortium of libraries up to central Illinois, through the Illinois Heartland Library System. The original building now houses the historic Carnegie Museum.

MCPL: That's really interesting. Olney, Maryland has a population of about 34,000 people, so you probably know many more customers on a first-name basis!

Now that it's spring, I'm sure you're as busy as we are planning for new programs. This month we're hosting Financial Literacy Month programs such as Estate Planning 101 and Creating a Financial Roadmap, as well as fun Spring Break programs for kids and teens. We're also gearing up for MCPL's Summer Reading program, starting in June.

What kinds of programs are in the works at your library? We saw on your Facebook page that you recently held a Weight Loss Challenge. It sounds like a fantastic program… can you tell us more?

Chocolate displayed for the chocolate lover's library program
Another popular program:
Chocolate Lover's Tour
Kathryn: After a long winter and in the fall, the community comes together for the Weight Loss Challenge. Teams pay an entry fee and stop in for the initial weigh-in. After eight weeks, those with the highest percentages of weight loss win. This is very popular in the community.

Other programs include our Garden Club, two books groups, “Ag in the Classroom”-- this is a big farming community-- and a very popular Summer Reading program.

Judy: We also have a “Battle of the Books“ program for elementary students, a “One Book, One Community” program for middle school students [a recent selection was Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart], and we hope to eventually start a "gentleman’s book club." This month, we have a special "Grandparents/Grandkids Outing" with reading, games and face painting.

MCPL: It sounds like you have a lot of wonderful programs, thanks for sharing some good ideas with us.

One last question is about technology. At MCPL we introduce young children to science through "Go Kits" that include tablets with apps. 3M and Overdrive are our ebook vendors, and we hold monthly eReader clinics to introduce customers to the technology. How popular are ebooks and audiobooks to your customers?

Kathryn: 3M is our vendor and ebooks are increasingly popular. We have older people who receive Kindles and tablets from their grandkids for Christmas, so we teach them how to use them and help bridge the technology gap. We have kids and soccer moms, the whole spectrum. We have a Walmart distribution center in the area, so their truck drivers check out our audiobooks and return them to another library in the consortium.

MCPL: Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us. If you're ever in the DC area, please stop by and visit your counterpart in Maryland. And, we hope this post will result in fewer wrong calls to your library!

Metal tube catepillar, Sir Readsalot, outside the new library in Olney, IL
 Adorable "Sir Readslot" at Olney Library in Illinois

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts

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