Library’s longer hours are good story

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Volunteer Patricia Chrispell of Celestine sorted children’s books at Birdseye Branch Library on Wednesday. In a response to patrons requests to have the library open longer, beginning this week the library is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Herald Staff Writer

BIRDSEYE — Jesse Petry comes into Birdseye Branch Library every time it is open, but until this week, that’s only been twice per week.

When the doors opened Wednesday, Petry, 20, was ready to take his seat at a computer desk. He said he likely will be back Saturday, another new day for the branch to be open.

“They needed an extra day, at least one,” he said as he tapped commands into the keyboard to beat the game he was playing.

Because of popular demand, the library has added extra hours of operation for the small building at 100 State Road 145. Previously, the branch was open only from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, but those hours have been changed to 1 to 6 p.m. and the branch is now also open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“We just had requests. People were asking for more hours,” library Director Rita Douthitt said. “For being open two days a week, their statistics were growing. We were able to do it.”

In August, 265 people visited the Birdseye library and 40 have used the computers. So far in 2013, 1,654 books have been checked out and 1,216 nonprint items — including movies, music and audio books — have been circulating. A total of 448 people attended library events in the past seven months.

The branch saw 182 summer reading participants and has logged 260 volunteer work hours so far this year. Because the branch has only one permanent staff member — branch manager Ruth Gehlhausen — it relies heavily on help from charitable community members.

“We would love to have more volunteers,” Gehlhausen said, adding that she anticipates that Saturdays will become a very popular time at the library.  “There was a lot of talk in the community. It (the new schedule) is going to be wonderful.”

Patron Charlene Atkins agreed as she brought three books up to the counter for checkout. The Birdseye resident visits the branch at least once a week to fulfill her thirst for reading. She said before the branch was established, she used to check out materials from a mobile van of books that the contractual library sent to communities without branches, but that service was discontinued.

“I was very upset when they stopped the bookmobile,” she said as she enlisted help from library staff to locate a copy of a new book she wanted to read.

Atkins said she was “very glad” to learn that the branch would be open on extra days each week so she can check out and return books more often.

Contact Claire Moorman at

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