Information on resources available at ECCPL, Resource Center on tap

Published 12:30 am Saturday, September 17, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                                The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library will soon construct a community resource center inside the facility. Pictured, library patrons used computers stations where the center will be constructed at.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library will soon construct a community resource center inside the facility. Pictured, library patrons used computers stations where the center will be constructed at.

Any avid attendee of the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library knows it just isn’t about books at their location in downtown Elizabethton.
With all the various events underway at the facility, the ECCPL is adding another item for residents by providing a community resource center – fully supplied with information on different nonprofit organizations that will be utilized in serving the needs of the community – which will be coming soon.
Providing help is a job Cherri Tinney, Community Resource Coordinator, doesn’t take lightly. In a relatively new position, the ECCPL is stepping up the initiatives by setting a trend in Northeast Tennessee.
“This is a very new position,” Tinney said. “I’ve only been in this position since December and it was created at that time. Since then, I’ve been getting to know the community, getting them comfortable with me and trying to identify what their needs were.”
ECCPL is in rare company with a social worker on staff, being just one of two libraries with that type of employee onhand. Various libraries offer social work, but through outreach with local organization.
With a tall task ahead for a small contingent at the library, Tinney credited the assistance of the East Tennessee State University Department of Social Work program for their work at the ECCPL.
“I’m truly grateful for the ETSU social work department for giving us this opportunity,” she said. “We’re on a limited budget at the library and being able to spread the outreach with partners is what will make this possible.”
One of the previous interns, Donny Brock, provided to be a key asset for the library in establishing a position for community resource. With two social work interns already been used by the library, the opportunity for a third one recently came up for Tinney.
“We kind of had to brainstorm on where we wanted to go with that position,” she said. “Donny, then Anna, who followed him up, had already helped me implement the basic programs like collecting hygiene and food items for the community. Those are things that are ongoing and anybody can contribute that to the library.
“We wanted to make this idea more of a permanent program,” Tinney continued. “We want to identify the problems our patrons have and that’s when we were able to bring Steph on.”
Steph Hinkle, currently in the master’s program at ETSU in social work, has taken the bull by the horns and is working to help garner the resources needed for the resource center with Tinney.
The resource center currently in the process of being constructed, according to Tinney.
“We realized our dream was much bigger than the airlock (entrance way),” she added. “We are going to do a weekly presentation per institution, organization or agency out in the lobby. After that, will will break it down and move it into the left hand corner of the library. We’re getting ready to transform that into the actual resource center.”
ECCPL’s entrance will still be a hotbed of action, Hinkle said.
“Basically what I’m going to do is, I’m going to take the airlock area (entrance way of the library) about once a week have a different organization set up with information and have a display for patrons to see as they come and go,” he said. “Then they will leave me their information for me to take to another area so I can collect the resources.
Tinney added that while resources have been dispersed in the area before, having Steph man the front will be vital into managing the distribution of information for citizens.
“People are constantly leaving resource information out in the front … people will come in and drop it there since it is a centralized place,” Tinney said. “But it gets shuffled, you don’t know what’s up to date or what’s relevant anymore. Having Steph and I being able to monitor what comes in and out of that area was important because I want our patrons to know what we can offer them.”
Displays are expected to be started within the week, along with a coffee and conversation time with Hinkle each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon to discuss the different organizations.
The first display will be important for the community, Tinney added, with SHIP and Project Access being set up to provide information on healthcare.
“They’ll be here to provide resources and information about MediCare and open enrollment, which starts October 15,” she said. “A lot of our patrons ask about health insurance. We can get the answers for them and we appreciate the two nonprofits that will be set up.”
So far, the initiative response for the outreach has been positive, Hinkle said, with the ECCPL already scheduled for the next month.
“It’s been really good,” he added. “I’m like a lot of people, I didn’t realize all the things libraries do. Since I started my internship here, I can see there’s a lot more to the library. It is a very good hub for the community. There’s all kinds of folks that come in here from all different walks of life, socioeconomic status … it’s a very good melting pot for people to come and get to know the community and see what’s out there and be more part of where they are.”
For more information on the center, or to possible be featured as a display in the coming months, Tinney and Hinkle can be reached via email at or call the ECCPL at 423-547-6360.

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