Greene County’s six libraries are so much more than just books.
“Libraries are gathering places,” says Jane Millard, Jefferson’s library director. “People never know whom they might run into here — a neighbor, friends, teacher. It’s a place that brings a wide cross-section of people together who might not otherwise cross paths.
Millard is one of six library directors in Greene County. There also is a library in the towns of Rippey, Grand Junction, Churdan, Paton and Scranton. Each one provides a wide variety of checkout materials, Internet access and public computers, as well as programs for all ages.
Greene County libraries maintain close contact with one another, working together on numerous programs supported by the Greene County Supervisors. The libraries have formed the GCLA, or Greene County Library Association.
Paton Library Director Joleen Allen noted the importance of the Greene County libraries collaboration.
“Most counties don’t do it that way, but we all work together. We are known for leading the libraries in the state for doing this,” Allen says.
Some of the programs the libraries collaborate on are Greene County Reads, Toddler Fest, a teen program and other community projects. They also go together to pay for one movie license so they can show movies at the library. This year’s collaboration includes visits from the Blank Park Zoo.
While each library has many similarities, each has characteristics unique to its own community.
“There is always an interesting combination of neighbors running into neighbors and hearing a lot of laughter about that, “Millard says. “We see intergenerational users at the library, such as a teen and an older person on a computer, with the teen helping the person.
“The one thing libraries are good at are changing with the times, evolving, meeting the needs of the communities.”
Millard remembers when library directors thought the Internet would replace libraries. Instead, libraries embraced computers before many people had them in their home.
And while many people now have computers at home, not everyone does, nor does everyone have access to the Internet from their home.
“The library’s role is to make sure everyone has access to the information they need. We provide the public access computers. People use the library’s computers because they don’t have one at home, or the computers at the library are faster, or the Internet connection is better,” she says.
Founded in 1901, a Carnegie Foundation grant of $10,000 in 1903 allowed the building of the original library. An addition was built on in 1967.
Allen, the director of the William Paton Public Library, noted the library was founded on May 7 in 1899, with last year being its 115th anniversary.
The library burned down and was rebuilt in the 1930s. Room was added by taking over an adjacent building in the 1970s that now serves as the children’s area.
In 2013, the library took over another adjoining building.
“The room we added on was the café on the corner,” Allen explained. “We kept half of the café. I put on coffee every day, and the coffee area is open from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. We are known for our coffee shop.”
She is pleased that the children’s reading program has picked up pace. The program had been sparsely attended, and now there are 35 to 40 kids signed up each summer who go to four different school districts.
Sue Kellogg, director of the Grand Junction Public Library, says that while library books were located in a general store, an actual library in its own building was begun in 1916. A new library was built I996-97.
“The library will be 100 years old in 1916, and we are planning a celebration,” Kellogg says. “I think we will do a celebration with the kids, and maybe a birthday for the library, probably in May of 2016.”
Bringing donations to the library is important for its future, and fundraising will be part of the birthday celebration.
“One of the things we are going to try to do is ask our patrons to donate $100 to the library. That money will be used to buy books and materials and be used for the longevity of the library,” she says. “Sometimes we have to ask for support.”
There are approximately 800 library cardholders who include people from the community and the surrounding rural area.
“I have five computers. They are used a lot. There are a lot of people who come in for job applications and also a lot of children who use computers for games or homework,” Kellogg says.
The library holds after-school programs on Wednesdays because students get out of school early. The younger children read a book and do a craft, play games and have a snack. Young adults are beyond wanting to play games or do crafts.
“A lot of time they just gather and maybe do an activity of some kind. I have a lot of that age group because this is probably the only place they have to go, and it is a safe environment,” Kellogg says.
Scranton has a brand new library they moved into last fall named the
H.F. & Maude E. Marchant Memorial.
The very first library was in a schoolhouse early in the 1900s. Later, the school needed space, and in the 1920s, the Scranton Welfare League bought the Old Farmers Merchant building to house the library.
Library Director Ashley Squibb noted the new library was built with money from H.F. and Maude E. Marchant and the Carver grant.
“We now have a ton of space and new equipment for our patrons,” she says.
With money from the local Rotary Club, Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation, a new touch-screen computer was purchased for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“We have all new shelving and computer space for both adults and kids,” she says. “There is an excellent kitchenette and fireplace with seating to enjoy books.”
Every Wednesday the library holds a K-5 program from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The weekly teen program will be starting again soon on Mondays.
“There is a lot more we are going to be offering in the near future. We are hoping to be able to offer some computer classes and a lot more adult programming,” Squibb says.
The slogan on the main Rippey Public Library page says it all: “Libraries are the heart of every community.”
Sarah Killgore, who has been the librarian for the past two years, is leaving for other pursuits, but says the Rippey library is well used.
“The library is definitely in the center of town. It is a place where kids can go and the only place for a meeting other than the fire department,” she says.
The library provides one adult, one child, one young adult and one computer-related program each month.
“We had a circulation last (fiscal) year of about 3,500,” she says. “The majority of the people who come in want to use the computers and check out movies.”
The library has about 700 movies available to check out, which is a lot, especially for a small town, Killgore says.
The library also has 7,000 items, including books and other materials available for checking out.
The Rippey library was established on June 12, 1944. From 1928-1930, there was a Parent Teacher Association library, which held more over 1,825 books. No room was available at the school building, so the Pelly Mercantile Company housed the collection.
In 2010, the community remodeled the former Masonic building into a library and community room, providing the library with space to grow.
The Churdan Public Library plays an additional role as a community center to children, families and senior citizens.
Although the library is not called a community center, the function is much the same.
Library Director Shari Minnehan says because there is no community center or any other place for children to go after school, the library becomes the place to be.
“We have from 13-25 children who come to the library after school each day,” she says.
When there is a special activity related to children, that number jumps as high as 75.
“Today is early out at school, so we are having an after-school party and there will be from 50-75 kids,” Minnehan.
About 4,000 people attend the library’s various programs throughout the year, and there are 550 library cardholders.
“We serve a large rural area, as well as the town of Churdan,” she says.
When the current library was built in 1961, there was only 1,000 square feet of space. In 1978, another 1,000 square feet was added. Now, the community is working on a fundraiser to do another 1,000 square foot addition, Minnehan says. They have about $50,000 raised, but have a goal of $250,000 so they will have money to match potential.