Cumberland County’s Headquarters Library is turning 30. A celebration is set for Sunday, June 12, in the Pate Room of the library from 3-5 p.m.
The downtown library was opened at 300 Maiden lane in 1986 and replaced the main library on Anderson Street, which opened in 1931. The County set a referendum in 1968 to build a new library but, it failed. In 1982, a second bond referendum also failed but the need was greater than ever. County government agreed that if a citizen committee could raise some money, the county would match it with the rest of what would be needed to build the library. In 1983, the citizen’s group raised $700,000 and County Commissioners authorized a bid for construction of the library of $4.667 million. Construction was started in September 1984, and the building opened on June 1, 1986.
“A modern library has more open spaces. We depend more on technology and less on books than we used to,” said Branch Manager Jane Casto. But she added, “the World Book Encyclopedia is quite useful for many patrons.”
The public is still checking out books and DVDs, and librarians help patrons in many other ways, including using data bases. Librarians can even be booked for one-on-one consultations for up to 45 minutes by appointment. In the information services department, there are five fulltime librarians and another five in the local and state history division. Several full-time paraprofessionals assist them.
“We have a very well established online presence for folks working from home,” Casto said.
For those who actually go to the library, there are 40 computer work stations in the adult lab, with another six computers in the children’s lab. Half a dozen laptops can be checked out for use in the building, according to Casto. WiFi is available for those with their own laptops and smart phones, and all services are free.
Casto and Library Director Judy Risacher like to say “We welcome everyone on library property.” Street people have accepted the open invitation for several years now.
“We encourage them to come in,” said Casto. “We have rules, but we want to maintain a welcoming environment,” she added.
One reason the downtown library is popular among vagrants is the convenient access to wash rooms. They’re located in the vestibule outside the interior of the building. Two security guards are on duty at all times when the library is open. They enforce the rules, one of which is that groups of four people or more who are being loud or blocking the entrance are asked to disperse.
The 30th Anniversary celebration is in the Pate Room of the Headquarters Library. Refreshments will be served and a video of an historic time line will be shown, according to Casto.