Meeting rooms are in hot demand at Southwest Public Libraries.
In January, Grove City Library's meeting rooms hosted 45 programs, by groups both in-house and outside, with an attendance just shy of 1,300 people. More than 500 patrons attended the 52 programs in Westland Area Library's meeting rooms.
Grove City's number includes 600 people taking part in activities held in quiet study rooms, which Westland does not have.
The staff does not see that level of use tapering off anytime soon.
Grove City Library's meeting space hosted 30 programs in both November and December with an attendance of 1,193 and 1,050, respectively. In that same timeframe, the Westland Area Library's meeting rooms hosted a combined 78 programs with an attendance of 851.
All sorts of groups meet at the library: students taking GED or ESL classes, parent organizations, government agencies, hobby groups and more.
In February, a visit from Cincinnati Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman, organized by the Grove City Chapter of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, drew a crowd of more than 130 to Grove City Library.
With such demand for the library's meeting rooms, staffers have sought to streamline the reservation process and make it more convenient for patrons to find out when space is available. For the first time in SPL history, patrons can book meeting rooms through the library's website, swpl.org, by clicking on the "Meeting Rooms" icon near the top of the page.
After a one-time registration, patrons can search the date they want to book and find what space is available. Grove City Library offers use of its large and small meeting rooms and three quiet study rooms with Smart Boards. Westland Area Library's large meeting room can also be reserved online.
Capacity of these rooms range from four to 100, and through online booking, patrons can also find available equipment, including a podium, Smart Boards and wireless projector. The rooms are flexible, as chairs and tables can be moved around.
An individual or group can reserve meeting space three times a month for up to four hours at times, but no one can book a room more than three months in advance. Local nonprofit organizations can book a meeting at no cost, but for-profit organizations must pay a $25 fee.
No groups may charge admission, sell products, conduct a fundraiser or serve hot or catered food out of a meeting.
The meeting rooms are for everyone's use, and staff asks that anyone who uses them follow the library's rules and consider other patrons. Remember to keep the space clean, don't be disruptive, ask for help from staff when handling complex equipment and vacate the room by the end of the reserved time to avoid interfering with another booking.
Mark Dubovec is communications manager for Southwest Public Libraries. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.