Balloons, cookies, and a cheerful librarian greeted visitors at the North Adams Community Memorial Library on Tuesday — the first time in years that the library has been open on a Tuesday. The celebration marked the start of a new schedule for the library, which is now extending its hours from 20 to 30 per week.
The extended hours are a possibility thanks to additional income from taxes, said Phyllis Rickard, the library’s director. Funded only by state aid, penal fines, and donations, the library had to cut hours several years ago, Rickard said. So Rickard kicked off a millage campaign last summer, asking citizens to vote to allow the library — which provides services to North Adams Village and Township, Moscow Township, and part of Wheatland Township — to receive tax funding for 10 years. The ballot passed in an election on August 2.
Rickard said the extended hours will make it easier for people who work during the day to get to the library.
“I know we have patrons who cannot get in by 5 p.m. because of their work situations,” Rickard said, noting that the library will now be open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Rickard said the library has also been able to augment its book collection, start automating the checkout process, and add database resources with the new funding. At no extra cost, patrons can now access databases that offer language lessons, family history, audiobooks and ebooks, comics, and magazines.
Jackie Sutton, the vice president of the library board, said the new resources and funding are signs of a new, better era for the library since Rickard took over exactly five years ago. Before then, she said, the library was disorganized and running on an $8,000 annual budget. But Rickard came in, organized materials, brought in more donations, and successfully campaigned for taxpayer funding.
“She’s a miracle worker,” Sutton said.
Rickard was eager to point out the expensive shelving, front desk, and dozens of books that had been donated to the library in the past few years. She said it’s important to her to invest so much time in building up the library.
“A library is the most valuable resource a community has,” she said. “You can get the information that you need and learn anything you want to learn.”