February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Fresh Paint: Doors Wide Open

Gum Spring opening dayOpening Day of Loudon County Library’s newest facility, Gum Spring Library, has come and gone. More than 6,500 people checked out 14,000 materials in just under five and a half hours, and we issued over 1,100 library cards. And those are just the tangible statistics! Teens finally found a place in their community to call their own! Caretakers can now stop driving 25 minutes to the nearest storytime! An entire region of northern Virginia learned what it feels like to have free resources available to them in their own backyard. The looks of amazement and happiness that I saw on Opening Day filled me with amazement and happiness. The Gum Spring Library has arrived, and we’re open for business!

The days leading up to Opening Day included the last-minute training of pages, a one-night volunteer orientation event, and no fewer than four walk-throughs of the entire building to make sure that trash cans, signs, and library card application stations were appropriately situated. There was very little panic and rushing in those days leading up to the opening because we all knew what needed to be done—we needed to be ready to serve our customers, and by gosh, we were.

This isn’t to say we didn’t have a few minor issues. For example, it took three adults to get the teen volunteers into and out of their mascot costumes. Times that by seven costumes and three shifts of volunteers, and we had a full-time, daylong task that required more time than we’d anticipated. Luckily, we had extra staff on hand to assist. A librarian from a nearby school, which provided nearly 50 percent of the day’s teen volunteers, was a huge help. She assisted our volunteer coordinator and the volunteers on her own time, and her selflessness did not go unnoticed.

Another problem we ran into was the demand for library cards. We thought setting up four stations in addition to the permanent desks would lessen the wait time. We thought wrong. Customers were waiting in line for approximately 10 minutes to obtain a library card, and although that may not be bad for most retail lines, we were hoping for shorter wait times. (Side note: I can’t imagine how long the lines would have been if we hadn’t created hundreds of cards before Opening Day at the various outreach events and schools we attended.)

What was the most unfortunate incident? I developed a massive head cold on Saturday, the day before we opened. I pushed against it as much as possible, but by Sunday, it had completely taken over. That’s what happens when one opens a library on Saturday, and a week later, gets married. That’s right folks, in a seven-day period, I was not only throwing a 6,500-person party at the library, I was hosting my own (albeit much smaller) “big day.” The anticipation, excitement, and yes, I’ll admit it, the stress, got the better of me. Next time I host a huge event, I’ll make sure to stock up on multivitamins and sleeping aids.

Fresh Paint charts the development of teen services at a new public library in an underserved community. Gum Spring Library is Loudoun County’s (VA) eighth branch and will serve more than 100,000 residents. It’s one of the county’s largest public-private partnerships.

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April Layne Shroeder About April Layne Shroeder

April Layne Shroeder is a Teen Services Librarian in a Northern Virginia public library system, and loves it! One of her favorite job duties is reading/being knowledgeable about YA literature, and discussing/recommending it to young people (and open-minded adults).

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  1. Love hearing about these new libraries and services!

  2. Amy, it really brings home the fact that libraries ARE relevant, ARE being used, and ARE being built/updated. What I didn’t mention in this article was the same month Gum Spring opened, one of LCPL’s smaller branches secured the $750,000 in private donations they needed to build a meeting room onto their existing building.