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Library growing into destination point

With a solid operating year to its credit in a new home, the West Fargo Public Library is showing marked gains in useage and in the number of materials it provides patrons, according to reports assembled for the 2006 year.

The Library moved from its former City Hall location to the Lodoen Community Center, 109 3rd St. E., in August of 2005. Figures comparing the two years are encouraging, with almost 14,000 more items checked out in 2006 - 77,806 total - compared to 63,957 in 2005; six new computers established for patron use had 8,936 users; and the number of new library cards issued totalled 1,839.

In addition to that, attendance was also up considerably at planned events, with over 900 individuals participating in story time and a host of other activities.

Library Director Miriam Arves said the increase can be attributed to a number of things. The obvious, with the rapid increase in City population, more people visiting the Library in its new location; as well as the ease of access in selecting and checking out materials. With over three times the space the old library occupied, there is considerably more room for visitors to browse and relax as they mull over their choices.

Inventory is also measurably higher, with approximately 50,000 materials in combined children, teen and adult categories, including books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, etc.; and the library boasts one of the most complete magazine sections you'll find in the area, featuring 150 different magazines sure to fit the reading interests of all age levels.

Arves said the computers have been receiving a real workout. Patrons frequent them often signing in for 30-minute time frames of use. There is one computer set aside for business use that can be reserved for longer term projects.

Several new work areas have also been implemented including a supervised Homework Center which is open during the week after school from 3-5:50 p.m. for students Grades 1-8. Library employee Diane Fink oversees this area, assisting students with their needs.

The Library also features an expanded Historical Center, filled with archived materials that can be accessed by appointment or by seeing personnel at the main desk; and a 'Parenting Library,' filled with materials donated by the West Fargo School District in combination with Library items already in stock.

Other highlights of 2006 included: the hiring of Sandra Hannahs as the Assistant Director; tours provided to over 40 kindergarten and elementary classes in May; utilization of the meeting room throughout the year for West Fargo Park District programs; a successful Summer Reading Program with over 260 children participating; a visit during West Fest of the mobile Bus Museum, containing an exhibit of German civilians held in camps during World War II; and a display on the 164th infantry from North Dakota, which remains open to viewers through April.

During the year, the Library also saw additional growth in personnel with five full-time and seven part-time employees now on staff. They are: Arves, Hannahs, Janice Bober, Mary Jo Moorhead and Mary Murray, full-time; and Jeri Bohlmann, Ginger Elless, Diane Fink, Rachael Grindberg, Raksha Harikrishnan, Nick Lund and Dorothea West, part-time.

Current Library Board members are: Susan Ellison, president; Lou Bennett, City Commission liason; George Hahn, recently appointed to fill Jeremy Dworshak's term; Julius Helm; and David Saxowsky.

Bennett said the vision for the Library for 2007 is clear, with continued useage and making the West Fargo library a destination point for all West Fargo residents' main priorities. "Our mission for the West Fargo Library is to provide timely, reliable and easy access of the Library's resources to our diverse community to expand individual knowledge, promote enjoyment of lifelong learning, and stimulate interest in learning by patrons of all ages," he said. "Our vision is to ensure the Library is a multi-media information source that supports the community's education, recreation, professional, economic, and cultural needs."

On that note, Bennett said that plans for the immediate future include several paradigm shifts in the image of the Library, among them: from being a physical space to open access any time, any place, any where; from being just a place for reading to a learning resource center; from having limited options for learning, to multi-media materials; and from being just a place, to achieving community, cross functional partnerships. He said when these and other goals are met, "the Library will be perceived as and indeed will be, a totally different destination place."

Anyone who has not yet had the opportunity to visit the newly expanded West Fargo Library facility is encouraged to do so. Hours of operation are: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Inquiries can be made by calling 433-5460.