I visited the City of Grand Island (Nebraska) Public Library a couple days ago. It has been expanded, and now the old part is mid-renovation. We didn’t see the old section. It’s apparently much larger than it used to be (I hadn’t visited before, but the people I was with had; one’s still a regular); a Taco John’s has been moved, as have a few houses.
As a young child, I visited my local library weekly, each time checking out the max of six books allowed on my juvenile card. Sometimes I convinced Mom to put some of my books on her card. It wasn’t a hardship for her: I never lost a book, I never had to re-check a book. I usually had made my way through the stack before the week was half over. I devoured the entire young adult collection, and I read much of the fiction in the adult collection before we moved away when I was 13. This was an amazing library (as I’ve learned since leaving), and I’ve yet to find its equal in even larger towns.
A few locals have complained (in my hearing) that the Grand Island library now emphasizes its coffee shop and wireless internet rather than its book collection. However, this appearance could result from its ongoing renovations. Part (half or more, judging by the floor plan on the website) of its adult collection is not out on the shelves.
I was excited to visit because I like libraries. Logical, since I like books, I know.
A few reflections:
• The circular entryway is quite nice, but it’s denigrated by its shelves full of crummy pop paperbacks.
• It has a massive parking lot (an entire block, I think), which is bad, but at least it has trees.
• Its emphasis on the children’s area is important — and well done, too.
• The self checkout is very nice. Intuitive, quick and painless.
Offering the internet in an accessible way is important, too, although hopefully it will never outshine the books in focus.