Lakewood Library Sees Return Of Patrons After Repairs
Lakewood Memorial Library is “returning to normal” after battling adversity to repair the building due to major leaking with the library’s roof last year.
The library reopened in September after months of renovations to the building.
Shannon Taylor, director of the Lakewood Memorial Library, said the first few months of the library’s reopening have gone “very well.”
“It’s been wonderful having the community back in the library and returning to normal service,” she said. “It’s basically returned to the numbers we had before and then we’ve also seen quite a few new people that saw the story of our terrible situation, were curious and now they’ve been returning. It’s been it’s been wonderful to welcome new faces and also see familiar ones.”
While Taylor said the library does not currently have plans for any expansion, she said the library has been working on restarting all of the programs it offered prior to the library’s temporary closure last year. In addition to restarting previous programs, Taylor said the Lakewood Memorial Library is working to develop new programs for the community and is preparing for upcoming programs throughout 2023.
“We’re already thinking forward into our summer reading program,” she said. “That’s always something we look forward to. It’s one of our biggest events through the summer.”
Currently, the library has a variety of programs for community members of all ages to take advantage of.
While the Lakewood Memorial Library’s reopening has been successful, Taylor acknowledged the difficulty that all libraries face.
“It’s always difficult for libraries,” she said. “We have limited funding. For us, how we’ve been getting by is grant opportunities in the area. They have helped us be able to continue providing all the programs that we currently have.”
Taylor said donations and grant funding opportunities have helped provide the library’s digital literacy program, the art workshops and other programs conducted at the library. According to Taylor, the part of the repair and renovation work that was not covered by the library’s insurance was made possible by a state construction grant and the Lenna Foundation.
“That’s really the only way we would have been how we were able to make it through everything, community support,” she said. “For operation costs, thankfully we have the sustainable funding with the 259, that $139,000 we get every year, but it basically just covers operations. The rest of it is fundraising, donations and grants.”
Over the years, the library has had to make significant changes to adapt to rising costs and minimum wage requirements. When Taylor first started as the director of the Lakewood Memorial Library, there were six staff members. As people have left their positions with the library, she said the library has chosen to reduce the number of staff members by not filling some of the positions in order to “stretch” the limited resources of the library.
“You just keep tightening your belt to try to make by with all of the minimum wage increases,” Taylor said. “It’s definitely had an impact on us.”
To support the Lakewood Memorial Library, Taylor encouraged community members to donate if they are able or to just come to the library and utilize the free resources offered by the library. Taylor explained that they biggest support community members can show the library is by engaging with the programs provided by the library.
“We’re one of the few places you can come in and you’re not expected to spend anything,” she said. “Everything is offered for free, all of our programs are free, to check out a book is free. We are even a fine-free library, so if you don’t return on time, there’s no charge. For us, we want to be able to have the community here and to keep seeing them.”
Taylor acknowledged that the library might eventually require additional funding to continue providing resources to the community. Nevertheless, she explained that the library is continuing to find ways to “make do with what we have.”