The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 27, 2001


Parents find the perfect spot to socialize while their children attend the story hour. Library moms (left to right) are Ann Marie Durlacher with her daughter, Grace, Molly Sorrows, Muggsie Rocco, Anne Ketchen and GFio DiNicola. (Photo Mike Quayle)


Library improvements yield higher community usage

Residents have invested in Gleason Library renovation, and they are now reaping the dividends in a big way.

“We’ve seen a 16 percent increase in circulation,” confirmed Library Director Ellen Rauch. “Our registration [for new cards] is also way up.” In the past six months, 324 patrons have joined the library. That’s more than joined in all of 1999, with only 193 new members. The director, having held the position since November, 1998, finds it especially rewarding to greet patrons who hold old paper library cards. These date back at least 10 years to before the library became computerized, and it’s unlikely that Rauch had met these Carlisle denizens before.

The Gleason Library is currently part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium. The group unifies the collections of 29 towns, including Billerica and Chelmsford. The library locates books not on site for patrons over the extensive network. Concord belongs to the Minuteman network. Peggy Hilton, the former library director, made the decision to join Merrimack based on postal routes at the time, costs, and limited staff size.

“We get a lot more for our money,” said Rauch of the Merrimack network. She has also worked in another library which was part of the Minuteman consortium. “We are not constantly going to meetings. You are expected to contribute a great deal of time in the Minuteman network.”

Parking space

Increased traffic at the library appears instantly visible in the parking lot. The modest expansion to the library parking lot seems insufficient during the library’s busiest times, Saturdays and times when programs for children are going on. That Gleason Library staff elected to hold its annual pumpkin decorating and carving contest at St. Irene Church last October was primarily due to the greater parking space.

Children flock to library programs
The children listen intently to librarian Lyn Oleksiak as she reads to the group during the story-hour for 4 1/2 to 6-year olds. (Photo Mike Quayle)

The library’s story-hour programs for pre-school and kindergarten kids are definitely “in” these days. These programs tend to fill up on the first day of registration. Both Giovanna DiNicola and Anne Marie Durlacher have kindergarten daughters enrolled in a story hour that also features crafts. During the session, the two relaxed in the children’s books area for quiet conversation. Durlacher’s baby daughter crawled on the carpet of the new and entertaining children’s area.

DiNicola first came to Carlisle to live about 15 years ago when she was doing graduate work. She described the library as small and cramped. She eventually left Carlisle but was back six years later married to Steven Huberman. She decided to give the library a second chance, but finding it much the same, left again.

Durlacher moved to Carlisle eight years ago, and she concurred that the library had been in poor condition. After the library renovation, however, everything changed.

“The library is such an inviting place now,” said Durlacher. “We check out much more. We often spend an hour here together after story time. It’s a much more pleasant place to congregate.”

“I love it here,” affirmed DiNicola. “In a rural community it’s difficult to get a sense of community. Here [in Carlisle] the only places you see people you know are at the library or at the dump. This is a much more comfortable place!”

Registration for story-hour programs occurs every season with the dates publicized in the Mosquito. When DiNicola reads about it in the newspaper, she immediately posts an urgent reminder in her Palm Pilot(R).

The Gleason Library also sponsors events for adults, such as lectures and visual displays. As the numbers show, however, books remain the big draw for adults. If the parking lot is any indication, they are also spending more time browsing and socializing as well.