DOUGLAS COUNTY – Libraries are no longer a place where patrons are silenced by an evil-eyed librarian. Instead, libraries these days — at least the Douglas County Library — are a neutral place where people can congregate.
Dawn Dailey, director of the Douglas County Library, said the Douglas County Library is a place for everyone, a place where people can study, play, gather, learn, meet friends or even a place to meet new friends. She said it’s a place where people can share ideas, recipes, favorite books to read, a place where people can share their children’s success or what’s going on with their family members.
Yes, sometimes it gets a bit noisy and maybe the librarians could ask people to be a little quieter, but she said they very rarely have to.
“There’s more to libraries than books now,” Dailey said. “There are e-books, computers, printers, newspapers, magazines, events and more. We want to be your one stop shop. You need to study, we got you. You need to print something, we have it. You need to scan some documents, we can do it. You need a national park pass, we have that too. We have it all figured out.
Dailey said these days libraries are more important than ever and the library provides multi-generational spaces. She said that in addition to being fun, multi-generational play has been shown to have many physical and mental health benefits for adults and children.
“Families need these safe and comfortable spaces to gather and play, and we provide that at the library,” she said. “Whether it’s playing the big ‘Lite Brite’ in the kids’ zone or the small interactive computers, we’re seeing more and more families playing together.”
She said there were also large puzzles on the table and everyone stopped and added a few pieces at a time – adults, teenagers and children were all working on them.
The library also offers entertainment and activities for children, teenagers and adults.
Sarah Wethern is the children’s librarian and organizes many events, including story times and a host of child-centered activities.
Dailey said Wethern does a great job with kids’ activities and plans all of the kids’ events.
A novelty at the library is the new teen space.
“We’ve always had a small section, but we decided teens should have their own space,” Dailey said.
The teen area features a new seating area with reclining floor chairs, pillows and swinging chairs. She said there was a new dry-erase board for teenagers to leave messages.
Melissa Wales is the teen librarian and Dailey said she will soon be starting a teen book club. In addition, Wales is in charge of making the bags for teenagers. Dailey explained that teenagers just have to complete a questionnaire about the types of books they like and Wales will choose which books to put in the bag and then teenagers can just pick them up.
“She’s got really good ideas,” Dailey said.
Yeisa Fredrickson is the adult librarian, and Dailey said she does a great job organizing adult events, including a book club that meets regularly, as well as many other programs. She said there were arts and crafts events, author events, painting classes, book folding classes and more.
Dailey also noted that all activities and events planned at the library are either sponsored by the Friends of the Library group or the Legacy Funds, or come under the library’s budget.
When asked why the library had so much to offer, Dailey simply replied that it was to get people in.
“People meet other people here,” she said. “It’s a place that brings people together.”
For those who don’t want all the hubbub, the library also offers quiet spaces. Dailey said there were study rooms and other rooms available for people. And she said the library offers invigilator services for those who need someone to invigilate an exam. There is a small fee for this, she added.
As for the number of books checked out of the library, Dailey said, on average, between 800 and 1,000 physical books are checked out each day.
In October, 21,782 items were checked out and 2,533 e-books were checked out in October.
“It does not include the number of times newspapers, magazines or other articles are viewed or browsed but never checked,” she said.
Dailey added that on average, there are between 600 and 650 people who stop by the library every day.
“We’re quite busy here at the library!” she says.