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Nurturing Young Readers

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June 26, 2017 | By Daniel Brock

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Part of the Washington County Library System, the 75 year-old Bentleyville Public Library boasts a mix of physical books and an online catalog, all in spite of being housed in a temporary facility while renovations are being completed at its primary location.

Due to the smaller location, some of the older books are still being held in storage, but the library can send for books in other locations within the county library system to off-set anything the library doesn't have.

The library serves an area of 8,553 from nearby communities including Ellsworth, Cokeburg, North Bethlehem Township, Somerset Township, and Bentleyville. Despite the smaller location, the library is not hurting for visitors. In February, the library had 2,356 customers who walked through the doors. In addition, there are many library patrons who operate entirely online.

Christine Herko, who visits the library regularly with her children, praises the librarians on staff for helping to make the experience positive.

"The staff is very helpful, and they always make us feel welcome. They will go out of their way to help us find anything we might need," she said.

Herko likes the experience of visiting the library as opposed to just using the online features the library has at its disposal.

"I feel that going to the library is more appealing because I like to have a book in my hands and also, for my children to have that experience. They can also participate in many activities [that the library offers]," said Herko.

Inside-Library

Acting Director Charlotte Carpenter and her staff see value in nurturing the next generation of library goers. In addition to having child friendly events like family craft night once a month, and a Lego program twice a month, Carpenter has a goal that she strives for with the children that visit the library.

"If I could, I'd like to get every child that comes through these doors with a book in their hands," said Carpenter. "With the kids, we read, we have silly songs and the children love that."

Herko feels that the time the library is taking to develop a bond with the children is an important step to get children to see the value in the library when they get older.

"The relationship that my children have formed with the library will encourage them to visit as they get older. They love going there and they love books like I do," said Herko. "The interaction while they are at the library has been a very positive experience. They always see friends there and the librarians are great. I feel they have also learned how to socialize with other children while they are there."

Renovations to the library are possible due to the generosity of donors in the local community as well as grants that the library was able to secure. Carpenter is looking forward to hopefully being back in the primary building by December at the latest where she and her staff can continue to nurture library goers for years to come.