Library hopes to draw patrons, volunteers with open house
Hope — Hope Library volunteer Sydney Hall knows the time has come to move into the 21st century.
“The days of a library being a place where you just went to get books are over,” she said, talking about the need for the library to digitize its catalog and institute other modernizations.
But the library faces a chicken-and-egg problem: In order to make the changes that would bring it up to date, the library needs volunteers and funds. And in order to attract that kind of support, it needs to have something to offer that potential patrons want.
It didn't help, either, that the library was closed for most of the winter two years ago, while the Town Office was being renovated, and it took most of another year to get all the books back in place.
To attract new volunteers and generate interest among residents, the library will host an open house at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Hall said. There will be refreshments, along with a presentation on the library's current offerings and its plans. Attendees will also have a chance to get involved in a variety of ways.
Volunteers are needed to go through the remaining books in the basement, determine whether they can be returned to the library's collection and, if not, find a way to dispose of them. Another project is a community assessment to learn what services residents want from the library.
The library has no website, just a page on the Town Office site. Soon, though, library staff will meet with representatives of the Maine State Library to get help in setting up its own site, Hall said. Then it will need a volunteer webmaster.
The library has begun to upgrade its technology, she said. It is developing an electronic catalog, which patrons will be able to access through its website, and it has a laptop computer for patrons to use when the library is staffed. Hall said she hopes to get a carrell for the laptop that it can be affixed to, so it can be available whenever the Town Office is open.
The library is accessible during Town Office hours, but is staffed with volunteers 11 hours a week: Tuesdays 8 a.m. to noon, Wednesdays noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays 2 to 5 p.m. Hall said a volunteer for Thursday evening would be especially welcome.
Volunteers are also needed for fundraising, Hall said, since the town gives the library space, but no funding.
Hall was optimistic. More and more people are coming in to take advantage of the WiFi in the Town Office building, she said, and getting them in the door is a big step. As the library is able to add online offerings, she hopes the numbers of volunteers and patrons will grow.
“We have to be, as much as we can, at the cutting edge of how information is made available,” she said.
The snow date for the open house is Jan. 30.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.