By Ashley Rader
The Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library will celebrate its 20th anniversary in its current location by hosting Patron Appreciation Day Thursday, Oct. 11.
The library moved to its current location on the corner of E Street and Sycamore Street in 1992 because the library had outgrown a smaller building. A portion of the library is in the old Elizabethton Post Office, which is listed on the state’s historic register.
Before the move, the library was on Sycamore Street between the Elizabethton STAR and the old Franklin Clinic.
To mark the occasion, the library will host an open house Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. During Patron Appreciation Day, the library will have a fine forgiveness day, which means any overdue materials returned on Thursday will not be fined. A slideshow on the library’s history will be played throughout the day, and light refreshments will be served.
Library Director Mel Goff said a larger celebration is planned for 2014, when the library celebrates its 85th anniversary in operation.
Goff provided statistics to the Elizabethton Library Board on Tuesday relating how the library has grown. In 1972, the total number of items in circulation in the library was 16,325. By 1992, that number had grown to 31,395 items, and for the fiscal year 2012, circulation for the library totaled 70,950 items.
Along with the circulation, the needs of the library have grown.
Goff told the board that the library has currently reached its maximum capacity in many areas for collection display, work space and public meeting areas.
She said all areas of storage for the book collection were at or were reaching their limits, noting that the library staff has limited space to work, and often ends up “running on top” of each other when they have to work in the same area.
The library has seen an increase in demand for public meeting space, and in some cases has had multiple requests for the meeting room on the same date.
“It is a good problem to have,” Goff said. “It is something that we need to address and resolve.”
She said library staff members are working to use the available space they have in the most efficient manner possible.
She said she had also looked into what it would take to convert the upstairs portion of the old post office into offices and possibly a public meeting area.
Goff said the city’s building department and the fire marshal had looked at the area and gave their approval for the space to be renovated if needed. The next step is getting approval from the state, because the building is on the historic register. Then the city and the library would look into securing funding for the changes.
The upstairs area does not have a heating or cooling system in place, but Goff said the duct work and other equipment was nearby, so it would just have to be hooked into the space. There is also no wiring for the networking needs of the library, which would need to be added. For fire safety, steps or a ramp would have to be built in front of the designated fire escape window so visitors could exit the second story to get on the roof in the case of an emergency. If the space is used, Goff said the city would also have to make changes to make the second story handicap accessible.
Goff also told the board that city council would officially establish the archives at the library during its meeting Thursday. This will allow the archives to apply for grants and other funding opportunities.