Richard Groves Catoosa County Library

Richard Groves, director of the Catoosa County Library, will be leaving July 31 for a new job as assistant director of technology at the Chattanooga Library.

Richard Groves took the helm as director of Catoosa County Library on July 1, 2015, and has worked through the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he is moving on to take a position as assistant director of technology at the Chattanooga Public Library.

Groves’ last day at Catoosa County Library is July 31. He begins work in Chattanooga Aug. 3.

“The Catoosa County Library is in a good place right now,” says Groves. “It has good partnerships and support from the community and the county government.”

Groves says plans for renovation and possibly expansion of the Catoosa Library were started last fall. “It may take a few years for everything to come together,” he says, “but the process has been started.”

The library, says Groves, has grown to be one of the more accessible and convenient places for people to gather, work and have meetings due to its variety of spaces and hours. “We’re open some evenings and on Saturdays.”

Groves says he would like to see more and an even greater variety of spaces for people. “We could use some rooms with tiled floors for activities like crafting. It would be nice to have a room with a drain in the floor.”

Groves would also like to see more study rooms for people who want to work and learn in small, quiet spaces.

“Some of our members,” says Groves, “have been very creative about meeting during COVID-19. We have a group of crocheters that meets twice a week and are now meeting under a tree outside. They bring their own chairs.”

The library moved some picnic tables close to the front entrance, says Groves, and people have been working there instead of from home.

In spite of the fact that the library is open only 40% of its normal hours for the time being, Groves says checkout volume is almost as high as normal for this time of year.

Another way the library is trying to accommodate people during these difficult times, says Groves, is through its digital-only library card option. “People can go online and get a card so they can access online books, audio and movies. Later, if they wish, they can change their digital-only account to a regular account by coming into the library.”

Groves says digital borrowing is up 140% over this time last year.

But, says Groves, people need to connect socially. “The library is a good place to do that.”

Groves says he would love to see a reading garden at the Catoosa Library — a beautiful outdoor place with a variety of nooks and maybe even a small amphitheater where people can read and interact.

Groves says he won’t be a stranger to the Catoosa Library once he’s gone — he’ll be right around the corner.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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