Library celebrates first anniversary
December 4, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle residents waited years for their own library, enduring setback after setback, so when it finally opened its doors Dec. 8, 2012, the community turned out in droves.
As soon as doors opened that December morning, patrons flooded the entrance, and even more stood in a long line, snaked around the building, waiting for their turn to immerse themselves in that brand new book smell.
Flash forward a year later and the library has become an integral part of the community, standing as an architectural marvel with its glass-lined façade, in downtown Newcastle.
“It is well used,” said Kirsten Corning, librarian services manager. “I have a feeling, though, give it two or three more years and it will be really well used.”
The Newcastle Library will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a day of cake, music and a special story time Dec. 7, sponsored by the Friends of the Newcastle Library.
The toddler story times have been one of the library’s most popular programs since it opened, Corning said. The Newcastle Library offers young toddler, toddler, preschool and family story times.
“Story times are designed to foster an early and ongoing love of books, libraries and learning, and they are pretty fun, too,” said Kelcy Tiger, the children services librarian who leads the Newcastle programs.
The story times were so well attended, the library had to expand its offerings and stagger its start times to accommodate participants.
By the numbers
Figures represent totals calculated from Dec. 8, 2012, to Nov. 19, 2013.
It was a necessary move, Corning said, because of the library’s limited parking stalls. The lack of available parking is a common complaint among Newcastle Library patrons.
“We’ve done things to help mitigate parking,” Corning said. “Now, we have a very concentrated break in our story times, so the first group can leave and those spots will be available for the next group.”
While attendance at children’s programs has been high, the same isn’t true when it comes to teen programming.
Turnout for teen-centric events is low, probably due in part to the fact that there is currently no middle school or high school in the city, Corning said.
While the Newcastle Library easily established relationships with the local elementary schools, the staff is still working on creating ties with the secondary schools, Corning said.
“We are building bridges and getting there, but I just think it’s taking a little longer to get the word out than we initially expected,” she said.
As the library heads into its second year, reaching more teens will be a priority, Corning said, and it plans to partner with Coal Creek Family YMCA to do it.
The two entities have already merged their teen leadership councils, which lets teens offer input about the services they would like to see at the Newcastle Library, Coal Creek Family YMCA and in the community, said Donna Day, Newcastle’s teen services librarian.
The Newcastle Library is also working to provide programming that appeals to teens, such as a duct-tape craft workshop in December and college prep programs in the spring.
In its first year, library staff has worked diligently to form partnerships with local entities including the Newcastle Historical Society and Newcastle Trails, said Vicki Heck, the adult services librarian.
Newcastle Trails provides the library with free trail guides that allow patrons to explore the city’s vast trail network.
If you go
The Newcastle Historical Society hosted a series of free September presentations about the city’s history at the library, and displayed pictures in the public meeting room.
It’s those types of community relationships that Heck said the library hopes to continue to foster in the years ahead.
“I’m always interested in hearing ideas from our community members about services or programs they’d like to see at our library,” she said. “The community is what makes our library great.”
When the Newcastle Library opened its doors, staff members said it would be more than a building; it would exist as a presence in the community.
That’s certainly been true, as library staff members attended Newcastle Days with the red Library2Go van, participated in neighborhood block parties and hosted library programs at Bill Pace Fruit and Produce, Coal Creek Family YMCA and local schools.
“We all really like it here,” Corning said. “This is such a nice library to work at. The community is very nice to work with, the patrons are nice to work with and the collection is lovely.”