Reprinted courtesy of: thetimes-tribune.com
By: Kyle Wind
MOSCOW — In nearly a year since North Pocono Public Library moved from a former liquor store into its new $3.2 million facility, library activity has surged by just about any measure.
Since moving the operation from the 1,300-square-foot building on Van Brunt Street to the newly constructed 8,000-square-foot facility on Church Street in June, attendance and participation in programs have quickly grown, according to library Director Susan Jeffery and children’s librarian Kelly Pulice.
Librarians organized 158 programs that drew more than 3,000 people in 2012. In 2013, librarians organized 225 programs that attracted about 3,700 people. Between January and April of this year, 80 programs for children attracted about 1,000 children and 600 parents, while 65 programs for adults drew 600 people.
In addition, circulation increased 17 percent in the new library’s first six months. Nearly 960 new people signed up for library cards at the North Pocono library in 2013, a 12 percent increase over 2012. So far this year, the library has signed up about 1,000 new people.
“Our programming went through the roof,” Ms. Pulice said. “All of our programming previously had to be done at the Borough Building next door. We could have story hour at the library, but my big programs all had to take place off site.”
Moscow resident Lauren Benjamin used to take her 3-year-old daughter, Kira, to the library before the move but has found many more activities available since then.
She thinks the combination of programs like preschool story times, arts and crafts activities, and music and movement sessions have made a difference for her daughter, helping Kira come out of her shell.
“She was a little shy. She didn’t have a lot of interaction with kids her own age,” Ms. Benjamin said. “It’s a good learning experience for them before they go to school. It helps them learn to sit and listen.”
Whether it is children conducting science experiments, 80-plus people attending a Halloween party, teens competing in Xbox tournaments, adults taking computer classes, tutors using a study room or seniors playing bridge, librarians said the facility is becoming a social and recreation hub for the North Pocono area.
Library staff overhauled the book collection during the move, but Ms. Jeffery said once new people check out the new building, they often learn the library can meet their needs in many more ways, like with computers, access to online databases, e-books and audio books.
“I think it’s been pretty incredible,” Ms. Jeffery said. “There have been moments that have had me in tears when I’ve seen a grandparent or a dad sitting with a child in the Reading Tree and snuggling up with a book.”
“We had this a cappella program with the West Chester University students,” she said, referring to a program that was a joint venture with the North Pocono Cultural Society. “To see a program with almost 90 people in our community room ... and everybody coming together to share in this program, it’s really touching. We could not have done that before in our old building.”
Ms. Jeffery wants to continue to upgrade the facility, with a butterfly garden and outdoor education facility planned to eventually go outside the children’s area of the library. In the meantime, library officials still need to raise about $500,000 to pay off the new facility.