May 21, 2007

Delano Public Library

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

Libraries have been a crucial part of a community, dating back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece.

Libraries not only preserve history and the knowledge of our past, they also bestow upon us a creative and deeper thinking that helps us move toward the future, and Delano has a fine library that will help to do just that.

The Delano Public Library is a great place for people of all ages. It offers a variety of programs for people, young and old, as well as providing the community a place to read and borrow items to bring home.

The Delano Public Library has been in Delano for 68 years, and has been a member of the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) since 1969.

“They are based out of St. Cloud,” Librarian Carol Plocher said.

The GRRL consists of six counties and 32 cities, providing each library with materials, such as books and magazines, and staff.

“We are all one big library,” Plocher said.

The Delano library has six employees, including Plocher, who has been working at the library for 15 years, acting as branch manager for the past 12 years.

The library building consists of 4,800 square feet of space for books, collection space, computers, group gatherings, and programs, and is totally handicapped accessible.

“There isn’t anyone who can’t come here,” Plocher said.

The area the library has is great for the wide variety of programs and events that take place there.

For example, when there are children who are taking part in activities, and are a little loud for traditional library visitors, there are quiet areas to go and read if the situation would arise, so everyone’s needs are met.

“I want everyone to love the library,” Plocher said.

One of the benefits of having extra room is the chance for growth. Presently, there are three computers with online access at the library, with wiring being put in for two additional hookups, including wireless Internet for the first time for those who bring their laptops.

“Everything is built for growth and expansion,” Plocher said.

Growth and expansion is a luxury the library has never had before, going back to when it was first organized in 1939.

It was organized when interest in a library became a priority with citizens such as Mrs. Ted Greenfield, Mrs. Harry Kuka, and Mrs. Frank LeBovsky, and it opened Nov. 11, 1939 in the old Brown Pharmacy, offering 80 books.

Originally, the library was only open to its 25 members, with membership costing $1, and their initial goal was to one day become a public library.

Then, in 1972, under the guidance of the Crow River Federated Woman’s Club, a fundraising drive began of card parties, dinner dances, luncheons, and raffles, to help with the restoration project of the fire hall, now known as the Historical Society.

The library moved there in 1974, and this was the library’s home until it moved to its present location at 160 Railroad Ave., in 2004.

The move to the old State Bank of Delano building in 2004 was spearheaded by Kathy Gow, Char Iten, and the Delano Friends of the Library in 2000, who raised money and help, renovating the building to what people see today.

The new building allows the library to offer a variety of programs and events for people of all ages. The length of this programs range from weeks to months, as well as events that just last one day.

The programs offered are geared toward art, photography, and, of course, reading.

“We are trying to reach everyone,” Plocher said.

The art show, which takes place every October, brings local artists into the library where they can display their pieces. The first Tuesday of the event, an open house takes place, and presenters come in and give a demonstration on different ways to make art.

“The presentations change every year,” Plocher said.

A photo exhibit takes place in March, and the photographers also hang their pieces in the library, with a presenter giving demonstrations during the open house on the first Tuesday of this exhibit, as well.

“Last year, the presenters did scrapbooking, photo framing, and digital photography,” Plocher said.

The reading programs the library has to offer go through much of the year, and focus on toddlers all the way to adults.

The library offers two story times throughout the year for toddlers and children, as well as winter reading for adults and teens during the school year.

For toddlers ranging from 18 months to 3 years of age, the program runs from January to March, while the children’s story time is broken up into three sections during the year, having two six-week programs in January and September, and a four-week program around May.

“We have three sessions of story time for the 3 to 5-year-olds,” Plocher said.

The winter reading for adults and teens is theme-based, and designed to get everyone involved in reading. Those who finish the reading goal receive a prize.

“Last year’s theme was movies, and everyone who finished received a movie-themed basket with movies and popcorn,” Plocher said.

The upcoming program the library is offering is the summer reading program, June 11 through Aug. 11. The program is designed for children and teens. The library sets goals for the readers to meet with prizes being given to those who reach the goal. The program consists of three groups: Read to Me, Go Bananas at your Library, and Get Lost at your Library.

“Literacy is definitely one of our goals here,” Plocher said.

Read to Me will be in its first year of existence for 0 to 3 year olds, with the idea that it is never too early to read to your children. It is designed to have the parent bring the child in, and participate in reading and other library activities, with prizes handed out to both the child and parent.

“It is brand new this year,” Plocher said.

Bananas at Your Library, for ages 3 to 12, is designed to have the children read 15 library books or complete time slots of 15 minutes and a half hour. Each student who completes the reading wins a book as well as other prizes, including a drawing for a special prize donated by the Friends of the Library.

“They can do more; they have the option to go up to a 100 books, and some do do it,” Plocher said.

Get lost at Your Library, ages 11 to 17, is a little different but has the same idea – reading. The readers read in four-hour time increments. Each time they read for four hours, they fill out a coupon, and it is entered in a drawing for a prize.

“We have drawings weekly,” Plocher said.

With all of the events, programs, and prizes the library does, it could not do it alone.

The Delano-Loretto United Way and the Delano Friends of the Library do a lot for the library through donations, fundraising, and volunteer work.

United Way donates much to the library, as well as sponsors most of the summer programs the library puts on.

“We are supplied mostly by donations from the Delano-Loretto United Way,” Plocher said.

The Delano Friends of the Library do a lot of volunteer work as well as fundraising for the library. The group meets eight times a year to figure out fundraisers and projects for the library, such as the annual book sale and Pizza in the Park.

“The Friends do a lot of volunteering, and they do so much for the library,” Plocher said.

Whether it is reading, art, photography, or working in cooperation with the schools in the accelerated reading program, the library has something for everyone, young and old.

With the support they receive from the Delano-Loretto United Way and the Delano Friends of the Library, it will continue to prosper in Delano, helping everyone to broaden their horizons.

“I hope we can continue to be a vital place in the community,” Plocher said.

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