Books have always been an important part of my life. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Old Library. Just stepping inside immediately transported me back to the hours I spent in the children’s section as a young girl. I can still remember the shelf where I could find the latest installment of The Boxcar Children. However, what surprised me most was how small it felt. The shelves are long gone, but it is truly amazing how the staff was able to provide such a wealth of information and services in such a small environment. In the late 1980’s, citizens recognized the need to improve the library and designed it to better meet the needs of the community. Just like in 1989, the time has come again to improve the library in order to fulfill library patrons’ needs.
The libraries of the 21st century are not just about books. Although I will be the first to admit that books are still important in a library. It is also about providing residents with WiFi, computers, meeting spaces, diverse programs, makerspaces, and so much more. The staff at the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library has done a tremendous job over the years with providing many of these opportunities to its patrons. However, so many people are taking advantage of what the library has to offer that more space is needed. So again, we have come to a crossroads. It is time to improve and expand our current facility.
Expanding the current library will allow for more access to technology. Last year alone, the library’s computers had over 12,000 login sessions. In today’s digital world many of us forget that not everyone has WiFi readily available. Libraries work to lessen the digital divide to make sure that all citizens have the ability to use technology and have access to information. Library patrons will continue to be able to use the library’s WiFi and also have access to more than just the current six computers.
An expanded facility will also allow for more flexible and adaptable seating. People can connect with others who have similar interests. The meeting spaces in our current facility were reserved nearly 800 times last year alone. There have been instances when the current space would not hold enough people, so businesses had to look elsewhere for meetings or training sessions. A library’s goal is to provide a community gathering space for all. More space is needed to ensure this goal is being met.
I have lived in DeWitt nearly all my life. My family and I use the library on a regular basis. I love my library, and I am proud to live in a community which recognizes the need to expand and improve the facility to better meet the needs of the people it serves. Libraries transform lives and create lifelong learners. My life was transformed at that small library on the corner of 6th Avenue and 9th Street. Now, I am beyond overjoyed to realize that once again I have the possibility of using and enjoying an expanded facility which will provide even more benefits for this town and its residents.
-Jen Kizer, Enthusiastic Library Expansion Supporter and Patron