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Joyce Endee

Effingham Library now a state-of-the-art community center

EFFINGHAM LIBRARIAN Marilyn Swan proudly displays the newly painted mural in the library's children's room, created by local artist MyKayla Holbrook. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
November 14, 2013
EFFINGHAM — If a library is defined as "a building or rooms containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for people to read, borrow, or refer to" then perhaps Effingham Public Library should be renamed Effingham Public Library and Community Hub.

A visit to the library this week found Librarian Marilyn Swan and Library Trustee Maureen Spencer proudly ready to give a tour and to talk about all of the improvements made and those still yet to come at this historic building.

The list is long but as we moved from room to room and Swan showed me "oh and another thing we're doing," it became clear that the building is so much more than a library and one that staff and volunteers want townspeople to share.

Years ago the backroom of the building housed the entire town library with the rest of the building being used for the town offices. Over time that room has been converted to what is now the community meeting room. With new carpet, new propane heaters, comfortable new couches, and state-of-the art television and projection system, the room is perfect for presentations, meetings, or for just curling up with a good book or laptop. The room will accommodate 40 to 50 people in a presentation-style setting and is available, by reservation, to groups. Currently the room is used on a regular basis by a knitting and crochet group, a literary society group, as well as monthly community movie nights and Saturday matinees. A new series, Armchair Travelers, invites the community to come and listen to presentations of those who have traveled to places in all parts of the world including National Parks, Library of Congress, India, England, and more.

The technology being used at Effingham Public Library is state-of-the-art and a surprising find in the rural setting. There is an open wireless internet connection that requires no password. Visitors can access the service on their own laptops or by borrowing one of the library's four laptops. Outside of library hours, the public is welcome to sit in the parking lot or on the outdoor seating and use the wireless connection that is on 24 hours a day. The library's website at Effingham.lib.nh.us is a very useful resource that allows users to browse the library's entire collection and reserve books from the comfort of their own home. Users can also make requests for books to be borrowed from other libraries around the State through the interlibrary loan program or access New Hampshire Downloadable Books website. There is also a regularly updated calendar of events for upcoming library programs.

Moving into the library children's room, Swan talked of new shelving and storage cubbies that will be added and points out the whimsical mural painted by local artist MyKayla Holbrook based on the book "The Umbrella" by Jan Brett.

A room that was being used as a computer room is now being converted into a teen room with plans to make it a comfortable hangout for the town's teenagers where they can read, use the laptops, play board games, and have their own space. The library is averaging about 465 patrons visiting every month and Swan hopes that by making a space just for teens it will encourage more in that age group to want to spend time at the library.

In a partnership with the Effingham Historical Society, the main library room will be getting new artwork for the walls – historical photos of Effingham that have been enlarged and framed that will line the room. The historical society also has a cabinet in the community room where historical artifacts are displayed and regularly changed in an effort to bring Effingham history to the people.

The library offers quite an extensive selection of movies on DVD – 1,100 different titles to be exact – as well as a nice selection of audiobooks.

Writer's Night continues to be the library's most popular event. On the third Thursday of every month, beginning at 7 p.m., the community turns out to hear presentations by writers. Then there is a break for refreshments and then it is on to open mic time. The evenings typically end around 9 p.m. but sometimes there are so many people signed up for the open mic portion, the event continues well into the evening. Those who take to the mic may play music, recite poetry, read a passage from a favorite book, but one thing this event is – never the same event twice.

There is typically a fundraiser ongoing to help support the library programs. Currently, they are selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a limited edition print on display and donated by Tom and Jo Dodge.

If you haven't been to the library in a while, it is worth the trip. The library is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The library phone number is 539-1537.

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Martin Lord Osman
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