Englehardt Library Celebrates 20 Years in Lowell

You’re invited to a birthday party!  This Saturday, May 13 from 1pm to 3pm the Englehardt Library will celebrate 20 years in Lowell.  Music, refreshments, and fun will be had by those who attend.  A dedication and groundbreaking will kick off the celebration.

History of the Library

There has been a public library in Lowell since 1878 with Robert Graham serving as the first librarian.  According to the Kent District Library site Lowell’s library is the “longest continuous history of any Kent District Library (KDL) branch” as well, joining the KDL system in 1956.  From 1922 until 1997 when the current facility opened the library was housed in what is now the Lowell Area Historical Museum.  Located in four rooms it covered 968 square feet.  

In 1997 the library moved to its current location along the Flat River.  The project cost just over $1.2 million dollars and is named for Harold Englehardt, a major benefactor.  Englehardt Library has 8,771 square feet, a vast improvement from the Graham home.  From 1985-2010 Jane Aronson was the branch manager making her the longest serving in this capacity.  Heather Wood-Gramza is the current branch manager having taken on the role during the summer of 2015.  She notes how libraries offer much more than they used to in past decades saying, “People are using the library to build skills, find jobs, work, attend school, and meet with others in the community.”

Work on the Rotary Reading Deck leading up to weekend festivities.

Celebration Activities

Starting at 1pm the celebration will kick off with a ceremony dedicating the Rotary Reading Deck.  The Lowell Rotary Club donated $8,000 to have the deck built.  The city paid to prepare the site for building and received a grant for landscape improvements.  The deck faces the river and will be a great place to relax with a good book.  

Groundbreaking for the Friends of the Englehardt Library Reading and Chess Garden will also begin the festivities.  The Reading and Chess Garden will be located in front of the building.  New benches and landscaping will improve the area.  A permanent chess board will be in the garden available for those who wish to bring chess pieces for a game or they can be checked out inside the library.  Currently donations are being accepted for this project including having a name put on a brick for a $75 contribution.   Information on how to make a donation toward this project can be found at the desk at the library.

The Lowell Area Historical Museum will be on-site to capture any memories people from the community want to share about the library.  They will also be showing off their The Past Online website.

Additional highlights include hands on activities for kids and adults, cupcakes, lemonade, and fruit infused water by Miss P’s Catering.  The Easy Idle String band will entertain with their bluegrass music.  

The front of the library will be turned into a Reading and Chess Garden.

More than Books

Gone are the days where silence is expected in a library.  At Englehardt KDLville is an area where kids are invited to play.  Items in the area are changed on a monthly basis.  Various programs geared toward children up to age six take place throughout the year.  Baby Time, Toddler Time, and Family Story Time are great ways to meet parents of other youngsters and introduce kids to the library.  There are also opportunities for school aged kids and adults.  LEGO building events, book clubs, cupcake decorating, and classes on how to use a cell phone or computer are a few examples of the numerous offerings available free of charge to patrons.  

Librarians often take on the role of teacher leading groups or showing patrons how to use the computer.  Lynda Austin has been at Englehardt for 13 years.  She is a Youth Services Paraprofessional who helps create and implement programming for those 18 months to 18 years of age both at the Lowell branch and other KDL locations.  She says, “I derive a lot of joy in connecting a patron of any age to a book that they love. I myself love to read and comparing notes with fellow lovers of reading makes this a dream job for me. But libraries are about so much more than reading!”  Austin thinks the Englehard Branch is one of the best deals in Lowell when it comes to items which are loaned out free of charge.  

Chris Straw agrees!  She has been working at the Englehardt location for seven years.  As a Youth Paraprofessional Straw works at the information desk, handles some of the youth programming, does outreach work, and is part of the Summer Reading Club committee.  “I feel the entire community can come to the library and benefit from all we have to offer from books, media, programs, assistance with mobile devices, internet, and unique ‘check out’ items.” says Straw of the library’s role.  She continues, “We are a welcoming, friendly environment to anyone who comes through the door.”  Did you know you can check out things like DVDs, toys, iPads, a sewing machine, cruiser bike, and even a hotspot from the library?  The BookMyne app puts searching for items, checking your account, and placing holds available while on the go.   Placing items on hold to be picked up at any KDL branch (return items to the same location) can also save time.  Items will automatically renew if available to help reduce late fees.

The library isn’t contained to four walls.  The new deck and reading garden will allow people to enjoy outdoor space.  And library programs travel to elementary schools and Senior Neighbors both in the Lowell community.  A list of events can be seen at the Englehardt Branch page on the KDL site.  

You’re Invited

The library is a place to not only check out books but experiences.  Come celebrate Englehardt Library’s 20th year along the Riverwalk.  “We are in the business of building community here at the library and are dedicated to reaching everyone with the great resources we have to offer.” concludes Wood-Gramza.  She and the rest of the staff at the Englehardt Branch are looking forward to welcoming you into their home away from home.  

When: Saturday, May 13 from 1pm-3pm
Where: Englehardt Library located at 200 N. Monroe
RSVP: Just stop by!  No need for gifts, but a donation toward the Chess and Reading Garden wouldn’t be turned down.

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