Ferdinand library is 10 years old


FERDINAND — Back in December 2010, the Ferdinand Branch Library opened the doors of it new facility on East 16th Street.

It was a much needed upgrade from its previous and much smaller site on West 10th Street.

“We get a lot of positive comments about how much people love our library,” Library Manager Trina James said. “Over the years, patrons come in and tell us how helpful we are and talk about the beauty of the facility.”

James has been with the library since 1982. “Working in the old library, it was very small,” she said. “We only had books, magazines and newspapers.”

But the times changed, and with that, the community’s needs changed. “We start having VHS (tapes). At that time, we didn’t have any computers. There was no room to have very much programming. We did have some; we used our little tiny space. But we didn’t have like any separate rooms. It was all open.

It was clear that the library had to grow to cover this and other needs. So when the East 16th Street facility was being created, organizers kept that in mind.

“In this facility, we’re able to offer so much more because we have the space to do,” James said.

The Ferdinand Library started in 1966 in Ferdinand School’s former kindergarten building and moved to a facility on West 10th Street, where the Ferdinand Police Station is now located. In the late 2000s, work started on building a 22,000-square-foot facility. That building, the current library, was completed in October 2010; the new library opened two months later.

Opening the new Ferdinand facility and the library in Dubois, which turns 10 this summer, benefited those communities, said Christine Golden, director of the Jasper-Dubois County Public Library system, which includes the Ferdinand Library.

“It gave people an opportunity to find that sense of community,” Golden said. “And that’s what a library is, you know, that’s the biggest part of it is being part of a community.”

With the additional space comes more opportunities for the community. “Everything has grown,” James said. “We offer programming for adults. We also have the community room. Groups have been able to use our rooms. People have used our large community room for things like baby showers or bridal parties.”

The offerings have also grown. Along with books, the library has videos, music and audiobooks that can be checked out. Digital downloads of books are available. If the library doesn’t have something available, it can get it from another library using the inter-library loan system.

Ferdinand Library is now looking at making more changes, in particular with its large computer lab.

“As time goes on, we realized that we didn’t need that big of a computer lab,” James said. “We’re going to use that room for programming and for people to rent out if it’s available.“

So instead of having a computer lab, there will be computer pods available to patrons. “They’re computer stations scattered kind of throughout the library, instead of having it in that room,” James said. The library also has free Wi-Fi available to which patrons can connect their own technology devices.

COVID limited usage of the library for the last year. But traffic is starting to pick up again. And the library is still offering to take orders for books that people want to check out and place them on a table in the foyer for the patron to pick them up.

“As things are getting less restrictive, less restrictive, people are coming in more,” she said.

What is being used has changed.

“We used to have like a reference section where people would come in and need to do research, using an actual book. And now they use the internet,” James said. “ That reference section rarely gets used because people will just, you know, Google it.”

But in another vein, patrons come looking for DVDs.

“Now that so many of these video stores have closed up, a lot of people will come in and check out DVDs,” James said. “They have different options to do that (watch movies and videos), but they come here too.”

And as needs continue to change, the Ferdinand Library will continue to adapt.

“Libraries are changing. They’re thinking outside of the box,” James said.

“It’s not just about books anymore, although books are important. And we have a very nice collection of books.”

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