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County library expands highly popular hot-spot borrowing program

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Public Library continues to expand its services and the technology they offer.

During the Upshur County Commission’s 2022-2023 fiscal year budget sessions in mid-March, Upshur County Public library director Paul Norko talked about their new hotspot borrowing program.

“The hotspots were one of our biggest positives this year, and as of today, we’ve had 193 people check out a hotspot since April of last year because we got them at the beginning of April,” Norko said. “We’ve had as many as 20 people on hold for basically four or five months straight.”

The library recently purchased four additional hotspots from AT&T. The previous hotspots were all on the T-Mobile network.

“Then we’re getting an additional six from AT&T because I got the four from Emergency Connectivity Funds and then the additional six,” he said. “We’re paying for on our own. We were trying to just give them an option because some networks work better than others depending on the location.”

Having more devices is lessening library patrons’ wait times, Norko said.

“We’ve seen a reduction in the wait time because we have more devices and we’re hoping to have enough so people can renew them, which they are able to do but not when we have people waiting on our waitlist,” he said.

Unfortunately, the grant funding for the hotspots will only continue through July.

“After that, we’re on the hook to continue paying for the service contracts, so that’s something we’re going to have to figure out because if we can’t find additional funding, we’re going to have to take it from somewhere,” Norko said.

He was also happy the library brought back a service that helped community members file their taxes.

“This time we took did it through a partnership with Dr. Becky Swisher at West Virginia Wesleyan College. So far, we have filed 53 tax returns and that’s the first time in two years we’ve been able to have it because previously we partnered with someone from Mountain CAP until she decided to get a new job,” Norko said. “That was something that was very much requested over the past two years, and we were able to bring it back and made it a point to bring it back this year.”

The library also altered its hours to 9 a.m. to 6:30 Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“They are the same closing hours, but that gave us an additional two open hours in the morning, which more people seem to be doing because a lot of people that live out of in the southern part of the county tend to come into town in the morning, do their business and go home,” Norko said. “They don’t want to come in in the evening.”

The most important fundraiser for the library is their annual ramp dinner, which will take place 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 22 at the Event Center at Brushy Fork.

Both dine-in and carry-out meals will be available from 5 to 8 p.m., but tickets must be purchased in advance – by Sunday, April 17.

“To purchase tickets, you can give the library a call at 304-473-4219 and select extensions 10 or 14 during regular library hours or you can go online, where we have an Eventbrite link on our website and on our Facebook page posts we’ve been sharing,” Norko said.

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