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
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 gatherings.
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 relocated there.
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 for Books."
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
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 renovation process.
"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.
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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 district's assessment.
The assessment has not been changed
"We can't do 2013 work at the
library with 1950s money," said Brooks.
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 Nooks.
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
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