Walk inside the building and you find the usual shelves of books,
magazines and newspapers common to libraries. But dig a little
deeper, and a person will find a growing list of exciting programs
that are available to the community -- programs designed to
encompass activities for preschoolers to senior citizens.
Cathy Maciariello was recently appointed director of community
programs for the library in Atlanta and has been ramping up the
program menu from a modest beginning in 2011 to a wide variety of
offerings today, some of them unique to the library district, such
as the Behind the Scenes programs.
One of the success stories is the children's programming, which
began with an outdoor summer reading program on the library lawn.
Other offerings during the year are a homework and reading lab,
kids' crafts, a summer creative writing class, and preschool reading
One measure of success is the number of area children
participating, from an initial 12-15 to a count of almost 30 kids at
a recent event.
The dramatic increase in participating children has created a
happy problem for the library. Currently, one section of the
octagonal building is dedicated to children's reading material and
events. The small area is now at the maximum capacity, and more
space is rapidly becoming a necessity.
Toward that end, plans are being made to convert the basement of
the library into a new area for children's books and activities. The
basement has at least double the space of the current area. After
the relocation of the children's area to the basement, the upstairs
space will be converted into an adult fiction area and reading room.
Initial plans are being developed to upgrade the infrastructure
of the basement with a new ceiling, lighting, heating and a
dehumidifier before the children's books and activities are
As with all remodeling, the new children's area will require
funding to proceed with these ambitious plans. Toward that end, the
Atlanta Library will have a fundraiser on Feb. 16 called "Bowling
Bowling for Books will take place at the Red Wing Bowl, just
across the railroad tracks from the library. Twenty-four teams of
four bowlers each will compete for prizes, with bowling times at
3:30, 6:30 and 9 p.m. In addition to bowling, a Chinese auction will
take place for items donated by area businesses.
The prime sponsor for Bowling for Books is Mattingly Automotive,
with additional help from Kitty Cat Crafts. So far, response has
been very positive, with many teams already signed up.
The library hopes to raise at least $4,000 to begin the basement
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"The momentum of community involvement in the library is
increasing," says Maciariello. "The fundraiser is providing an
exciting way for members of the Atlanta community to participate in
their library's improvement."
Sign-up forms for Bowling for Books are available at the library
and on the library website.
Maciariello sees the library as a magnet for area residents to
come together and participate in fascinating events, as well as use
the traditional library services.
In addition to the Feb. 16 fundraiser, another important date for
the library is rapidly approaching. Randy Brooks, president of the
Atlanta Public Library District, announced that a referendum will
appear on the April ballot, requesting an increase in the library
The assessment has not been changed in decades.
"We can't do 2013 work at the library with 1950s money," said
He stressed that when the assessment was last changed, all the
library had to offer was books. Now, in the digital age, libraries
are called upon to offer many more services. In addition to checking
out physical books, library patrons are requesting access to digital
reading material that they can download to their iPads, Kindles and
Money from an increased assessment will go directly into updating
the services and programs the library can offer its patrons, as well
as maintaining and updating the library's physical structure, a
historic building that needs lots of care.
Brooks said: "I can't stress enough how important a modern
library is to a thriving community like Atlanta, especially with the
increase in tourists coming to town for the Route 66 experience. A
modern library enriches the community."
Brooks and Maciariello are excited about the future of their town
and the Atlanta Public Library, and their enthusiasm is shared by
members of the Atlanta community.
For a complete list of the Atlanta Public Library programs and
special events such as Bowling for Books, go to the library website
or call the library.
[By CURT FOX]
Atlanta Public Library contact