Bonner library celebrates new building’s 2nd year
With a little more than two years under its belt, the new Bonner Springs City Library is still going strong.
The new 17,000-square-foot building, which observed its second anniversary on July 12, has opened the door to a world of possibilities, said Kim Beets, library director — possibilities that weren’t so readily available in the cramped quarters of the former library.
“I think we were so tight on room in the old library that I think a lot of people could just come in and get materials … that was about all the space we had for them to do,” Beets said of the library’s former home in the Bonner Springs Community Center. “I think here it’s kind of like the library’s almost the center of the community … I just think this location is a lot more about materials, but it’s also about the usage and taking advantage of the space and what is offered.”
Library staff has taken advantage of the space by adding a more programming and events, especially during the summer as part of the Summer Reading Program. That programming will increase even further with the $11,500 the library received through February’s Jazz on the Lake fundraiser, which will go toward youth education programming for the next two years.
Since 2008, the last full year the library was at its old location, Beets said attendance to library events has had a significant increase, as well. The library recorded 13,990 attendees in 2010, well more than the 6,200 seen in 2008. There were 7,296 total attendees in 2009, when the library was in the old building for half a year before the move in July.
“I think people are a lot more aware of the library,” Beets said of the steady attendance increase. She noted another reason might be due to the economy, when residents need the free services, like computers and wireless access, provided by the library. “We try to promote ourselves, but I think kind of in our old location, I don’t think it was quite as visible.”
Other increases have been seen in book checkouts, total library visits, library card holders and computer usage, with computer usage having the largest increase: 35,831 users in 2010 over the 12,855 users seen in 2008. With the added space, Beets said library staff has also been able to expand the book collection, adding to the young adult and audio book collections. An entirely new section to the library, the juvenile graphic novel section, was added in late 2009.
The library celebrated its two years in the new building on July 12 with an event honoring the many volunteers who have given their support over the years — that includes 20 teen volunteers who have been helping this summer with the Summer Reading Program. Therein lies another increase, Beets said, as the number of teen volunteers has doubled since 2008.
Other volunteers honored include the 50-60 volunteers serving as Friends of the Library, who support the library through helping out with events, offering financial assistance where needed and sponsoring a twice-a-year book sale that benefits the library. One Friend of the Library in particular, Edna Stewart, was honored with the Friend of the Year Award — an award having its debut this year and that Beets said would continue to be given out in the years to come.
“(Edna) has been at every program, provided refreshments for anything we’ve asked and just been a huge support to us the whole time,” Beets said, noting that Stewart, who has been a Friend of the Library for years, was the initial inspiration for creating such an award. “Our Friends of the Library are so valuable that we think this will serve us for many years to come with honoring some of our special Friends of the Library. And I can’t think of anyone better to start us off with this than Edna.”
The event also included a dedication ceremony for the new statue donated to the library by the Bonner Beautiful Commission. Beets described the dedication as a “neat moment,” in which about 75 people were in attendance.
One challenge seen over the past two years, Beets noted, was meeting the needs of the increased visitors to the new library with only five full-time staff members and six part-time.
“We work really hard. We have a very supportive library board and we have a very supportive community,” Beets said.
And having more visitors at times than they know what to do with, she said, is really “a dream come true.”
“We worked so long and hard for it, it’s everything I imagined and more,” Beets said. “All of us are completely excited, but sometimes overwhelmed, by how busy it is and how popular it is. But that’s what we want and that’s what we worked for.”