Q&A with Mark Bohnstedt
Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Branch manager, Nola Brantley Memorial Library
Q: What’s new at the Warner Robins library?
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A: I guess right now we’re excited about switching e-book vendors to one that makes more e-books available and now gives access to magazines—all sorts of special interest and major magazines.
Q: How do library patrons access e-books?
A: You have to have a library card, then you access them through houpl.org. Click the Online Resources tab then Georgia Download Destination. Or hit the GADD box on the left side of most pages. You’ll have to register and if you’re going to use it on a mobile device you download the app.
Q: Is GADD local or a larger network?
A: It’s a statewide pool of resources, a lot like the Georgia PINES system we’re part of. Through GADD we pool money to provide e-books, audio books, magazines and similar items. We’re excited about the digital access to magazines.
Q: It’s in place now?
A: Yes. Something else coming up is our summer reading program in June and July and another big thing is the Friends of the Library Old Book Sale April 26-28 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.
Q: How does the sale benefit county libraries?
A: The Friends of the Library collect donated books through the year and sponsor the sale with proceeds coming to the library system mainly to buy new books. We have the choice of keeping some donated books for check-out, but the great bulk are sold and there are always great books and values to be had.
Q: How big a difference does that make?
A: It’s a big, big help and the Friends of the Library work really hard at it. Since 2005, $354,795 has been raised and last year the amount was $28,080, so you can see those donated books really help us build our collections and keep current.
Q: Where can people donate?
A: Definitely at boxes at all the library locations. People can get more information from Georgette Lipford. She heads it up and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What are you looking forward to for the Houston County Public Library System?
A: I just got back from a GLASS conference (Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services). Through it we provide free devices for individuals unable to read standard print materials due to physical or visual impairment. That could be someone legally blind but with some vision or someone totally blind who needs a machine to read aloud. Or it could help other challenges, like not being able to hold a book. There are other devices but those are the main ones. They’re free and they mean we can provide materials and services to more people in our community — and that’s what we’re here to do. It’s free but you have to come to the library to sign up. Then devices are mailed to you.
Q: That kind of networking is more prevalent and allows many added services, right?
A: Just like Georgia PINES is 300 libraries participating together, making books and resources available across most of the state despite where a person’s “home library” might be. PINES makes about 10,000,000 items available that can be sent to any library for check out and then returned to any library. That’s books, DVDs, CDs—basically everything we have available.
Q: What got you interested in a library career?
A: It was actually the sort of exchange of information and cooperation we’re talking about. I’ve been a reader from early on and was a library student worker as an undergraduate in Los Angeles. I worked with inter-library loans and it was the reciprocal loaning and sharing of information that grabbed me. I’m an information junkie. I got my master’s degree in library science from the University of Arizona and came to work here in 2012.
Q: So to you it’s information and the sharing aspect as much as a love for physical books?
A: If you love reading it doesn’t ultimately matter if it’s a traditional book, e-reader or what. You love reading, you love the stories and information. I think libraries will always have printed books, but there’s so many more forms now and we welcome that. Libraries are about information more than a particular way it’s handled or accessed. From clay tablets to scrolls, books, microfilm and electronic, all information and communication. We don’t have clay tablets to loan, but we even consider our meeting rooms as communication and information related and offer them free as long as the public is invited and you’re not selling anything.
Q: Your title is branch manager, but you’re still a “librarian” at heart?
A: My title is branch manager but by trade I’m a librarian. In Georgia you have to be licensed by the secretary of state to call yourself a librarian. You have to renew every two years—and that reminds me I’ve got to do that pretty soon.
Q: Last question, who was Nola Brantley, the library’s namesake?
A: She was president of the Warner Robins Women’s Club that was instrumental in founding the library and principal of Thomas Elementary School that was next door, now part of Middle Georgia State University. Thomas elementary was named after Army Col. Charles Thomas, who first oversaw the base and got it and the town named after his mentor, Brig. Gen. Augustine Warner Robins.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect name for Middle Georgia State University.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.