Geoffrey Kirkpatrick has been named the new director of the Bethlehem Public Library, after over a decade in administrative roles there. He said he's looking forward to implementing new, technology-driven programs at the library. Submitted photo
There's a new sheriff in town at the Bethlehem Public Library, and his name is Geoffrey Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick was recently appointed as director of the library to succeed Nancy Pierim who retired in April. He's no stranger to the job, though, having been with the library for over a decade as the head of the technical services department from 2000 to 2009 and then as assistant director from 2009 until present. He has been interim director for the past several months.
Now that he's officially in the position following a search process by the library Board of Trustee, Kirkpatrick said he's looking forward to what the future will bring. This is an exciting time for libraries for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the role of technology when it comes to how these institutions can serve the public.
Like other libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System, the Bethlehem Public Library rents electronic books through the OverDrive system.
“Electronic books are becoming very, very popular, and we're right in the mix on that,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are putting quite a bit of money into that service because we believe it's very important.”
Kindle owners will be pleased to know that support for Amazon's popular e-reader will be added to OverDrive in the fall.
Similarly, Kirkpatrick continued, more and more people are using the library's wireless Internet service, which may very well be a product of the recession as residents try to trim the monthly bills. The library just recently added a new access point to the network that covers the parking lot.
“We find a lot of people out on the berm, outside on a beautiful day, using their laptops,” Kirkpatrick said.
Also due to the recession, the library over the past year recorded a record amount of use, with a circulation of over 750,000.
Keeping up with new technology will be a key goal for the Bethlehem library, but supporting traditional services is also a priority. Kirkpatrick said the interior configuration is being rearranged to make the best use of space. Meeting rooms are now open to the public during finals season so more people can use the library to study.
“That's the kind of policy and procedure changes that will allow people to have more use of their library,” Kirkpatrick said.
Similarly, the library is planning in the fall to open one hour earlier on Sundays, at noon instead of one. That's possible because library staff have agreed to start work earlier, Kirkpatrick said, and he also commended the library's workers for handling the recent transitional period so well.
More library information can be found online at bethlehempubliclibrary.org.