Senior staff writer
The numbers are astounding:
• 225,498 items borrowed.
• 55,430 hours of public computer use.
• 93,310 books.
• 43,390 people attended 1,545 programs, including 33,607 children.
• 121 outreach events.
• 205,764 visits from patrons.
Those are just some of the numbers that reflect last year’s activity at Greenwood Public Library, which reflect the philosophy of the library’s executive director, Cheryl Dobbs.
“This library is a bridge that provides resources for everyone,” said Dobbs, who moved to Greenwood from California. “This is where investment provides transformation; we are using tax dollars and contributions to impact the community.”
Dobbs, the library’s board of directors and Friends of the Library have guided GPL through a financial crisis and phenomenal recovery with community backing. Five years ago GPL laid off 25 percent of its workforce and cut expenses. GPL celebrates its 100th anniversary next year.
Dobbs’ premise for the library is simple: Reading is transformative. Reading particularly at an early age transforms children into becoming better students, turns adults into better workers and opens doors to those who are learning English as their primary language.
Several areas at the library were recently redesigned to enhance hands-on programs for children and students of all ages. Each year since 2009 Friends of GPL have funded all library programming. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backpacks encourage such learning.
Located at 310 S. Meridian St. since 1963, the library expanded in 2001 to its current 51,500 square feet.
Short-term goals include increased readership, a collection tailored to the community’s needs, grow the library’s community presence, provide relevant resources and improve its transparency.
“We are thriving because we have embraced change early instead of late,” Dobbs proudly reported during a recent donor event. “Technology, e-books and online resources are as common today as pencil stubs, catalog drawers and typewriters used to be.”
Dobbs expressed pride in the range of citizens whom the library serves. Unemployed residents use the library’s free Wi-Fi for job searches and applications.
A library card can be obtained by anyone who lives or owns property within the library’s taxing district. Those 17 and under may register for a card with a parent or guardian present.
Youngsters take part in a multitude of programs mostly supported through outside funding. Story time is offered to children up to 3 years old, and children ages 3 to 5 can enjoy stories, finger plays and songs. The children’s library also has computers.
Teens have their own room, weekly programs and a fun-filled boredom-buster cart filled with special interest activities. Earlier this year they participated in the seventh annual teen film festival.
Teen board member Evan Wright, 17, recalled that five years ago he donated his savings and convinced other family members to donate to the library.
“It had never occurred to me that GPL had given so much to the community and needed the community’s support in return,” Wright said. “I couldn’t stand to think that no one else would be able to grow up with GPL the way I have.”
The library, open 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, opened Feb. 6, 1917, upstairs in a Main Street building. Three years later it relocated to the Polk Building, which is now the Greenwood City Building.