LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Smyrna Public Library has outgrown its space

 

SSShhhhhhh…QUIET! This is the library… not the Smyrna Public Library. Yes, right inside the door there is a rack of magazines you would expect to see at any library. However, there are not people sitting around in comfortable chairs reading their favorite magazines or major newspapers.

What there is, as you enter the small room, is an immediate sense of serious, important activity. People are intently using computers and a copy machine; office equipment not available to them at home; doing research on the internet, applying for employment, faxing important papers, or typing documents. I have observed many users ask for, and readily receive assistance in using the unfamiliar technology. These kinds of requests are repeated all day long.

Behind the front area is the library desk where computer trained, friendly staff efficiently check books in and out of the library as people are pressed up against the desk. In my case, I have continuously requested books from the state library network. No longer able to afford any more books from Amazon, I have come to rely on obtaining the most recent or most popular publications from the Smyrna Library through this system. In a larger space, our own town library would have room for more books. Perhaps we would not have to wait for, and depend on, other libraries for as many.

I would have to say that the activity is far from quiet in this space which is too small for the important services which our library provides. Most of the activity which happens on Main Street in Smyrna is in our bustling, tiny library. While the library is not too noisy, it is obviously uncomfortably small. It is not an atmosphere that is conducive to looking over new books, flipping though the first pages of a book or even reading a book jacket, let alone sitting down to begin a book. For me, it means get what I have come for, and get out.

However, despite the cramped quarters, every single time I have been in the Smyrna Library I have left with a smile on my face. I am acknowledged as I approach the desk. Usually the book I have come to pick up is handed to me before I ask for it. I am referred to by name, though I am a fairly new resident of Smyrna. To my delight, often times an adult will be accompanying a child carrying a stack of books ready for return; eager for more. The last time a small boy could hardly wait to get his hands on the next book for which he had been eagerly awaiting.

Because of the friendly service which I received on my first visit to the Smyrna Library, I joined the Friends of the Library. However, I do not know any details of the negotiations delaying the process of building a new library space. There is no way that any time you might choose to visit our library that you would not be impressed with the amazing service to our entire community that is taking place in this tiny, inadequate space, at hours arranged to accommodate most people’s schedules. On my very first visit, I was immediately aware of the broad segment of the town’s population who are benefiting by the services being offered by the staff who serve the public in this difficult, cramped, work environment.

Nothing is more important to a democratic society than the easily availability of information on which to make informed decisions affecting our everyday lives. We can do better than this in Smyrna, Delaware. Please support the efforts to create a space that makes our town’s people want to come to our library to browse, to read, and to take care of their business.

Jacksie A. Chatlas

Smyrna

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