Tag Archives: National Library Week

National Library Week

April 25, 2023

National Library Week falls on April 23-29 this year. The American Library Association chose “There’s More to the Story” for this year’s theme.

What is the Gering Library’s story? In 1895 a handful of women started the Gering Women’s Literary Club. They solicited donations of used books and the collection rotated between various members’ houses. As the collection grew, it moved to a series of businesses like the Gering Irrigation Office, the Swan Hotel, and City Hall.

By 1920 the City of Gering was supporting the library with tax dollars. When the library outgrew City Hall in 1962, it was moved into a new building, specifically designed to be a library. By 1980 the library had outgrown their quarters again and added an addition which more than doubled the size of the library. 

But there’s more to the story.  

After more than 40 years the library is ready to grow again. Moving things around inside the building has helped, but the building itself poses a lot of restrictions.

Because of the limitations of our building, we hold some events in other locations. Last fiscal year, our community room was used 163 times. Some of those were library programs, and others were community members using the room. If you add the events the library was not able to hold in the community room, that number becomes 187.

Our ADA compliant lift is an easy target for discussion. My understanding is that no local business installs or repairs lifts of any sort. I have also heard lifts are notorious for breaking down. Every time something happens to our lift, we have to contact someone in Colorado to repair it. If they didn’t bring the right parts, they have to reschedule. It’s my understanding this happens everywhere in town, not just at the library. This is why most new buildings are built on one level. 

While our library met ADA regulations in 1980, these regulations have changed. We have a patron in a wheelchair who must pull themselves up the ramp using their arms and the handrail because the ramp is too steep for them to wheel themselves up on their own. We can’t see them coming, so we can’t help until they are nearly all the way up the ramp and in the library.

Our building is woefully lacking in space where someone can study quietly or attend a Zoom meeting. Out of town businesspeople, hoping to catch up on work, stop in and ask where they can set up their laptops. Oftentimes our one space that works for this is being used. 

I wonder how many people have turned away simply because we cannot offer basic library services to them, like access to the building or an electrical outlet.

Moving on to what we could have. I like to visit other libraries when I am out of town. If we had more room we could add so much.

One thing I would like to see is a maker space with items that would be unique in our community. We have the beginnings of a maker space with a Cricut, a button maker, a heat press, and a spiral binder. All are available for the public to use. What if we had a leather sewing machine and other leatherworking equipment like Casper does? Access to this equipment could help someone start a career.

Podcasts are very popular right now. The Legacy of the Plains Museum has a podcast called Voices on the Prairie Wind. Every time I listen to it, I think “they need a recording studio.” But the museum doesn’t need a recording studio, they just need to be able to use one from time to time. If the library had a soundproof room, anyone could use it to produce their own podcasts. If we had a green screen people could produce YouTube videos as well.

We hold an annual program called the Local Author Showcase. I never have difficulty finding local authors who want to promote their books. If we had the space, we could get a book publishing machine (about the size of a large copy machine) and help people publish their own books, right here in the library. 

There is more to our story, we are writing it every day. The story will continue next week with the fun changes we have made to the children’s section of the library.