Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Open forum: A very thankful Germantown Library

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It is hard to summarize everything that has happened at the new Germantown Library this year. We are now the busiest public library in the county.

New Americans are practicing English in our conversation clubs. If you enjoy talking with people and introducing American life, consider volunteering to help facilitate these groups.

Germantown teens have enjoyed ‘‘Dance, Dance, Revolution,” Harry Potter book discussions and films. Our youngest library users participate in story times tailored to specific child development stages and presented by our children’s librarians. While they make it all look so easy, I can tell you it takes hours of training and work.

We held a gala and a family day complete with music, the Chinese Lion Dance and food from our many restaurant neighbors.

We have solved numerous building issues, thanks to the support of the county Department of Public Works and Transportation. Pebbles have been replaced with bricks, wooden handout racks hold fliers with community and government information, and more furniture has been added. We continue to work on a number of other issues in what is called, ‘‘shaking down the building.”

Throughout all of this — closing the old library, moving, opening the new one and settling in — we have received excellent support. To all who volunteered, you are terrific.

Our opening celebration was both more solemn and more joyous thanks to Seneca Valley High School. The color guard raised the flags for the first time March 18 in a brisk wind under cold, sunny skies. The school’s jazz band played their hearts out in our drum area. SVHS is a wonderful neighbor.

The Germantown Library Advisory Committee, made up of Germantown residents who represent the community to identify needs that this public library should meet, and the Germantown Chapter of the Friends of the Library, which raises money for us, were with us every step of the way. Members of both worked to raise money and to provide moral support to the staff.

We would not have educational toys in the Discovery Room, posters in the Young Adult Mezzanine or baskets to hold all those books and DVDs without the Friends’ book sales. We would not have the new library without our Library Advisory Committee. The best way to guarantee a bright future for the new library is to join the Friends and the LAC.

The Friends chapter’s goal is to add 100 new members by Jan. 31 and help present more library programs this year. Applications are at all the service desks. A spring author series with Montgomery College is already in the works.

The LAC is looking for new members, especially young parents and representatives of the many ethnic groups that live in Germantown. The group meets bimonthly to advise the staff and to lobby for library needs with elected officials.

Many customers have identified noise as a problem. Identifying solutions to this will be our first priority for 2008. Customers can help with this issue. We ask parents to teach their children to use inside voices when here, to refrain from running, climbing, riding Heelys and calling from one area to another. These guidelines are also in place for safety reasons.

Cell phone calls are an increasing problem and we ask that customers use their phones in the lobby near the doors so that other library customers working at computers and tables or looking for materials do not hear conversations.

For public library staff, Germantown is a wonderful community to work in. Residents here love what we offer in materials and services. From opening day forward, we became the county’s busiest public library with an average of 71,000 plus items borrowed from here each month. Thank you Germantown for appreciating us.

Please continue to make suggestions on what you want added, what you don’t like or what you need more of. We are your gateway to information no matter where it resides. We are where Germantown reads, learns and meets.

Maria Pedak-Kari, Germantown

The writer is manager of the Germantown Library.