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Logan Library expanding to meet demand

July 14th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Caresa Alexander

LOGAN—Patrons who have not been to the Logan Library for a few months are in for a treat. An expanded children’s area, a Teen Tech Center and a Family History Collections room are just some of the changes that have taken place during a recent remodeling.

The library’s children’s section, once a crowded corner, has expanded into an additional 3,000 square feet. Space that once served as an office for library staff now contains small tables and chairs and rows of child-sized bookshelves, an inviting space for children and parents.

Marie Mecham of Logan has been a library regular for her whole life. She now brings her 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter to the library every week. Things have changed since she started bringing her boy three or four years ago.

“It was kind of stressful, actually,” Mecham said. “You would always be stepping over people to look for books and the bookshelves were all tall and my kids couldn’t pick out any books over their height.”

Now her kids can pick out their own books and movies, play on the computer and participate in programs targeted to help educate younger children.

Library director Ronald Jenkins said the computers were purchased with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants. The four new computers have 40 programs in Spanish and English for children under 5. He agreed the expansion to the children’s area is a refreshing change for parents.

“The children’s area was so crowded before,” Jenkins said. “They would come with their strollers and babies and could hardly even move. Now they are able to move around and they can find things easier.

“It feels more open and relaxing, and what we are noticing is that people stay longer because there is a place to sit,” he said. “They can sit with their kids and read a story and do different things. They don’t feel like they are pressured because there are so many people around.”

Another part of the expansion included a Teen Tech area, which Jenkins says has brought in more teens. About 300 kids signed up for the library’s summer reading program, and as that age group continues to grow, the extra room is needed.

“They don’t really want to be in the kids’ area and the adults don’t want them in their area,” Jenkins said, “so we are carving out a space in here for them to use.”

Across the hall from the teen section is the new family history collections room. The area was once occupied by city hall, but when the government offices moved out, the space became available at an affordable price, Jenkins said. About 7,000 family histories fill the bookshelves with resources from the Everton Genealogy Collection, which was donated to the city in 2004. Besides the personal family history books, patrons can also access worldvitalrecords.com and ancestry.com for free.

The library staff is working to catalog the collection and catalog it online. The library is part of an inter-library network, so if a patron finds a title she wants, the staff can communicate with other libraries to obtain it.

Although the remodeling is needed and appreciated, Jenkins hopes that it is just a means to an end.

“The long-range plan is and has been to build a new building,” Jenkins said. “But with the economy not being very good right now, that is kind of on hold for a little while.”

The library occupies about 40,000 square feet and was designed to hold 100,000 volumes. Currently there are 190,000 volumes. A new library building would be about 70,000 square feet.

Despite the overcrowding, Jenkins says the existing facility can continue operating for about five years. The main part of the library was built in the 1920s, and Jenkins said more than half the building is 90 years old. The heating and cooling system is at the edge of its life expectancy but it may have to hold out a little longer, he said. Although the remodeling adds more space, Jenkins said there is not much more room for growth, which is why a new library is needed.

As the community grows, so must the library, he said. “When you fix the economy, I will build a library.”



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