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Library turns page on first 25 years
Library turns page on first 25 years
By SUE HOFFMAN
The Bainbridge Public Library will host a 25th anniversary celebration at 2 p.m. Oct. 17. The celebration, sponsored by the Friends of the Bainbridge Library, will feature entertainment and homemade refreshments. Varsity Jazz, a Kenston High School choral group, will perform. The event is free and open to the community.
The event has brought back memories for library officials and the Friends group.
The former Bainbridge Library was located in a tiny rented facility in a strip mall on East Washington Street, according to Deborah O'Connor, Geauga County Public Library director.
It was crowded, she said. "Books were even shelved in the restrooms. Poetry happened to fall in the men's room," she said.
In fall 1985, the new library opened at its current location at 17222 Snyder Road, at the corner of East Washington Street.
"Because the library was built out of the library system's operating funds, it was only possible to build the current 10,000-square-foot facility," said Mrs. O'Connor, who started with the library system that same year. "During the mid-1980s interest rates were very high, but the library board was able to pay off the library relatively quickly."
A plaque in the foyer of the library shows the official opening took place on Oct. 13, 1985. Among the Geauga County Public Library trustees named on the plaque are Mona Trybus, president, and Paul A. Newman, who continue to serve on the board.
What a difference 25 years make, according to Donna Fried, current manager of the Bainbridge Library. Mrs. Fried, a former school librarian, started her county library career as a children's librarian in the former Chester Library, now Geauga West Library, in 1981. She joined the staff in Bainbridge as the library manager in 1993.
"When the library was built, we had a card catalog and manual system of checking out books," Mrs. Fried said. When a person took out a book, the patron's library card number was imprinted on the card. "If 800 books were taken out one day, we had 800 cards to alphabetize and sort the next morning.
"It was totally manual," she said. "That's how we started the day."
Card catalogs had to be updated, too, she said. Hundreds of 4-by-5-inch cards were kept together with a rod at the bottom of the drawer, she said.
In 1988, the libraries were computerized, Mrs. Fried said.
"The library has gone from books and magazines and vinyl records to CDs, DVDs, audio books and downloadable books. The catalog's computerized. With one click, you can see when the book was written, checked out and due back. It's so much easier and faster."
Of course, the transition to a computerized system took time. Veteran employees recalled sitting at tables for the task. Patrons brought in their old cards, and the staff inputted all the information from their driver's licenses before issuing new cards. Bar codes had to be added to every item in the library.
A renovation took place in 1993, in which the entire collection had to be moved to a trailer. In 2008, the library received a Library Services and Technology Act grant for a "face lift," Mrs. Fried said. Appropriately sized chairs and toys were added to the children's section, and a teen space was created.
Hours changed over the years, too, Mrs. Fried said. The library is now open every weeknight, as well as Sunday afternoons during the school year.
Elaine Witmer, assistant manager and head of adult services, came to the library a month after it opened. She had started working with the Geauga County Library in 1974.
"The last 10 years saw the most change," she said about the reference area. With the Internet, people changed their methods of reference.
"We're in a society that expects everything instantaneously," she said. However, she said, "You have to dig to find the answer. That still holds true today." The library offers a variety of sources -- both print and nonprint -- to help patrons find the best answer, she said.
"What's constant is that the library is still a service organization and the patron comes first," she said.
Friends of the Library reflected on how important the library is to the community.
"To me, I have used it not only for leisure, but also for business," said Howard Miller, a resident of Bainbridge and president of the Friends group. "For awhile I had computer problems, and I used the library's computers. I have used the library for research and for pleasure reading. When I'm traveling, I use the audio books on tape."
The Friends group donates $3,000 to $4,000 annually. In addition to contributing to programs, the group provided the wood end panels in the adult wing, which are decorative and have room for displaying books.
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