By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

If there is a reason you don't go the Del Norte County Public Library, Patty Hector wants to know.

Hector, the new local library director, is hosting a public meeting tonight to figure out what direction the library should take in the next five years.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Washington Boulevard fire station, Hector will ask attendees what types of services the library should focus on and how those who don't come to the library could be enticed to do so.

andquot;We're trying to get a focus for the library, because a library can go in a lot of different directions, and I want to get a feel for what the public wants,andquot; said Hector who moved to the community five months ago from Arkansas to manage the library.

The last plan the library had was in 1996. Hector said the staff, with much help from volunteers and other community organizations have accomplished many of the goals in that plan.

andquot;Getting services out to the community has really been an emphasis and, we have achieved that to a great extent by opening a branch in Smith River, and our branch in Klamath is almost ready to open. And our Wonder Bus had over 1,000 children participate in its 'Bee a Reader' program,andquot; she said.

Hector said the library is currently working to make its doors, entryway ramps and bathrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and renovating the children's area in the Crescent City main library on Second Street.

While Hector and the library's elected board of directors are asking the public to suggest how the library could improve, they are asking people to keep realistic expectations during the current federal, state and county budget crises.

andquot;It's pretty severe. At one time we were getting $50,000 from the state, now we get about $12,000,andquot; said Hector.

The library gets the rest of its operation funds from local property taxes, fees, grants and donations.

In fact more than half of the library's budget is made up of grants and donors, andquot;which is hard to rely on, in these bad economic times,andquot; she said.

Despite money problems, Hector said the local library has kept its head above water and has actually increased services to the community because there are so many volunteers making it work.

andquot;Library statistics show that the improvements were appreciated. We checked out 66,278 books, videos, compact discs and cassettes last year. That's a 10 percent increase,andquot; she said.