Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

July 20, 2015

Library Visit to Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

State Librarian Visits Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

On Monday, July 13, 2015, Bill Morris and I had the pleasure of visiting the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Our visit began with lunch at The Alcove Restaurant, which was established as a candy and ice cream shop in 1911. The walls of the historic restaurant are filled with murals depicting people and places important to the history of the city. Lunch gave us the opportunity to meet two of the library’s board members and gain some background information about the library and the community it serves.

After lunch, we were treated to a driving tour of Mount Vernon, with the highlight being the recently opened Ariel Foundation Park. The park is a 250 acre green space built on the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass Manufacturing Plant. Park developers opted to retain some of the ruins of the former factory, giving the park a unique look while paying homage to the city’s industrial history.

We then visited the Book Warehouse, a very large used book store operated by the Friends of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. It’s more than just a book store because the Friends also give away a substantial number of books to children, libraries, including some in developing countries, schools, military bases, and more. Former uses of this building included a meat processing facility and a pie factory. The Book Warehouse is maintained and operated by Friends President Roy Glaser, 32 hardworking volunteers, and two cats. Yes, two cats aptly named Hemingway and Agatha Christie.   The Book Warehouse is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and they generally raise between $25,000 – $30,000 per year to support the four libraries in the Mount Vernon/Knox County community including the Main Library in Mount Vernon and branches in Fredericktown, Danville, and Gambier.

We then headed back to the Main Library for a tour and the opportunity to drop in for a bit of the Maker Monday program. The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013 and is very obviously a vital part of the community. Programs for all ages are a big draw for the library, with program attendance numbering about 10,000 each year. One of the programs they have offered this summer is Maker Mondays. This program is open to everyone and provides the opportunity for adults and children to build, make, craft, and play. Offerings include Little Bits, Legos, an Ellison Shape Cutter, a button maker, Strawbees, and more. I made a SpongeBob button during my visit!

The Children’s Room boasts a Maker Collection, a Parent-Teacher Collection, a learning playroom for children 6 and under, and a large well-quipped story time room. Children’s staff have had training in developing and offering sensory storytimes and although response has been slow, they are committed to trying to build interest and attendance. The picture books are shelved by subject and library staff created small dividers featuring pictures or letters to help organize the books, making them easy to find. Murals on the walls of the Children’s Room were created by a former library staff person. Space for teens has been created using the office formerly used as the library director’s office.

Materials for adults include a robust print collection, including a strong reference department that includes a large collection of genealogy resources, houses in a separate room. Although digital magazine services such as Hoopla and Zinio are very popular, print magazines are still popular as well and several people were sitting in the magazine area reading popular magazines at the time of our visit. The adult collection also boasts a large donated collection of high-quality art books. One of the library’s special features is the Williams Memorial Room, a reading room located in space that once was the entryway to the library.

The Outreach Services Department delivers library materials and services to residents of the Knox County Library District who would otherwise have severely limited or no access to them. Staff from the Outreach Services Department regularly visit 11 Amish schools, the Knox County Jail, a variety of preschool and daycare centers, retirement centers and nursing homes, and a number of homebound individuals.

Bill and I enjoyed touring the library and the community and having the opportunity meet and talk with a large number of the library’s staff, board members, and volunteers. We are grateful to Director John Chidester, Mary McGavick.

Click here to view the photos and read descriptions on Flickr.