Libraries have changed dramatically in the past few decades, and the pace of change has only accelerated. The Berryville Public Library has almost doubled in size since moving to its present location in 1978, but the space does not accommodate present needs.
Although no one can predict the evolution of libraries, Director Julie Hall has opened a discussion among staff, the library board, and patrons of the library. Those discussions range from making the best use of existing facilities to considering a new library.
Last year, Hall and former Director Carol Ann Engskov rekindled the Friends of the Berryville Public Library who helped raise money for library expansion in 1990, but the organization had fallen into inactivity in recent years.
Some funds remained in the bank account, and more continued to come in from used book sales. That meant the revitalized Friends could immediately begin helping the library by purchasing chairs and tablet computers. The Friends are helping pay for a company to assess the possibility of raising enough money in the community to build a new library. A meeting earlier this month at Carroll Electric brought together some of the key people in the community to hear an explanation of that assessment procedure.
The library currently receives a two-mill tax, but that money can only be spent on operations, not on building. A new library would have to come from grants and local donations, and grants would likely depend on the amount of community support.
Although many people now read books on a Kindle, the library has already branched out into audio books, CDs, and DVDs. The 10 computers available for the public receive a lot of use, and despite space considerations, the library staff have maintained space in the kids’ area for the variety of popular youth programs.
A new library would provide more space for books, but would need much more space for computer terminals. The library barely has space for its existing youth programs, and a new library would provide more area for such activities, or for community meeting space.
While pursuing the long-term possibilities, the Friends of the Library continue to support the day-to-day activities of the library. Money comes from the used books or occasional book and bake sales. Some members have volunteered to help with library youth programs.
The Friends of the Library welcomes new members, and Hall reminds everyone that they support their local library every time they walk through the door. More information is available at (870) 423-2323, a fun number to dial.