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Librarians reflect on one-year anniversary in new building

August 27, 2009
As the first year in the new Gilford Library passes, Library Director Katherine Dormody looks back at her old library with fondness but her new library with relief, considering the new facility on Potter Hill Road allows for more space, more opportunities for members of the library, and a more efficient budget for trustees.

The library's official anniversary, Aug. 19, marked a time of triumph and a record number of library patrons according to Dormody. Whether this can be attributed to the popularity of the new building or the unsteady economy, the librarians encourage new members to try out the facilities.

"Since we moved into the new building, we have so many new patrons and new kids. We have 926 new patrons. The circulation of CD books and DVDs has doubled. Large print and new adult are big ones. One huge increase is the young adult section," said Dormody, who has noticed the increase in YA book circulation.

Dormody attributes the increase to the more spacious teen reading room, a comfy place for teenagers to lounge, watch a movie, or skim through some of their favorite books.

"The teen reading room is very encouraging for students. There is a 113 percent increase in teen reading," said Dormody.

The library has also added 14 new computers, compared to the five computers at the old library. Librarian Betty Tidd said Web downloadable books, a relatively new item at the library, have become surprisingly popular as well, even with all the MP3 players around.

"Our main staple still is books of course. Although technology brings in a heavier amount of people," said Dormody.

The librarians mentioned that the NH collection room upstairs and meeting room downstairs in the building have been some of the most unique and helpful additions.

"We never had a meeting room before. We had to move things around and make space before to accommodate people. We had to shut down part of the library, and now we don't have to. Annual programs are much easier to have here, like Mother's Day Tea," said Dormody.

The library is now able to accommodate other events, said Tidd, including the book discussion lunch, Check out an Expert for basic computer questions, the knitters club, watercolor workshops, the popular ancient Chinese game Mah Jong, which houses up to 30 people a week, and foreign movie night.

"We are reaching out to a broader audience. There is more of a space for everyone. The old library was too small and cozy before. There was no just slipping in the door. There is so much more space and reading spots. It's more of a meeting place here now. There's more parking, sitting areas, and more people are hanging out a little longer," said Dormody.

The Building Committee worked alongside a representative from the trustees to make sure the building was functional and efficient before anything else, said Dormody.

"I think people have a high expectation of service. It is always a balancing act between the budget, providing, and meeting expectations. We really had to stretch that dollar," said Dormody.

Changes such as geothermal heating have been big savers as well, said Dormody, who estimated that the library has saved about $7,000 in energy costs over the course of the year by switching to a more "efficient" and "cooler" option. The library has added handicap accessible doors as well and plans to do some construction by the circulation area, where noise has been traveling in the vestibule, said Dormody.

Other than the building itself, the librarians find the community to be a great benefit to the library and the services they can offer.

"The 60 or so library volunteers have been a huge help as well. We have about 20 volunteers on a weekly basis donating two hours of their time. We wouldn't be able to provide a lot of services without them," said Tidd.

The librarians said that Friends of the Library opens a store downstairs called The Bookworm during the week, offering books, candles, pottery, and more. Friends of the Library also helps run the annual book sale on Old Home Day with pie and ice cream.

Now in their tail end of summer, the librarians are looking forward to fall events, including the popular story time and a new Teen Advisory Group, where teens come together for the benefit of the library and discuss what they would like to see happen next with the library and the community.

"The building has helped business. Most people are very impressed. It is nice to hear comments from the state, New England, and the country. We have been told we have the best selection. It was a lot of work, but it paid off," said Dormody.

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