Part 2: The library and its services
By LaDONNA GUNN
Delta County Libraries
When the Delta Library opened its doors in May 1912, it was following an American tradition of libraries providing their communities with opportunities to learn. For 100 years the Delta library's mission has not changed, but the materials, services and policies certainly have.
In 1933, the library had 9,266 books that 2,410 patrons checked out 32,588 times. The library was open 33 hours each week, mostly in the evenings and on Saturdays.
As a city chartered library, it was open to residents of Delta, but not everything was free. For over 30 years before, during and after the Great Depression, the library followed a 5 cent collection policy by renting fiction books to its patrons. After the rental on a book amounted to its cost, the book became free to all patrons. The library paid for a large part of its fiction collection in this way.
At different times during the 1930s, the library required those individuals, especially students, living outside of the city limits to pay $1 for a library card. Since "School District #1" did not have school libraries at this time, the Delta Library fulfilled this role. Even though the school district contributed to the salary of a library assistant, the library still had to charge "out-of-town students" for library cards. One young girl, who lived outside of Delta, remembered having to save her pennies so that as soon as she had one dollar, she could get her library card.
With a number of Hispanic workers employed with Holly Sugar Company, the library maintained a Spanish collection (871 items in 1933) for the "community rooms" that operated as a branch of the library. Besides the Spanish books at the community rooms, the library also delivered these materials directly to the sugar factory for easier, free access.
During the summer of 1934, about 150 children between the ages of 8 and 13 participated in "The Book Caravan," a reading program that took the children on an imaginary trip around the world. In addition to the books they read, the children learned about the Indians of the Southwest from Miss Agnew and about life in the Hawaiian Islands from Esther Homer.
In 2011, the Delta Library had 42,007 items (consisting of print books, eAudio books, audio CDs, DVDs, and music CDs) that 8,505 patrons checked out 122,357 times, and 35 public computers, iPads, and Kindles that were checked out 19,834 times. The library is open 50 hours each week, Mondays through Saturdays.
Besides offering a comfortable place to read the newspaper, access the Internet, search for a job, or play games on an iPad, the library offers regular fun and educational programs for all ages, with computer classes being the most popular. Last year the library had 231 children in its summer reading program. Even classes for English language learners are available as well as adult GED.
Today the best part of the Delta Library and the other Delta County libraries is that it is all free — no charge for a library card, checking out books, or using the computers.
Although the Delta Library holds true to its tradition of providing educational opportunities, it also recognizes its role in planning for future needs. In 1939, a Delta resident explained the library in this way, which is still relevant today.
"Now accepted as a matter of course, the Delta Library continues its forward progress in typical unspectacular library fashion. The library may lack the color and sensation to attract the attention of the public, but it proceeds steadily on its valued daily work of providing entertainment for readers from six to 90 or more years old, assisting those in search of knowledge, promoting interesting and instructive reading clubs for children, and in other ways making life more pleasant and profitable. Seldom indeed is the library deserted of readers. There is always a heavy flow of books in and out. Operated on an economical basis, the library represents one of the best paying investments a community can have."
Please join the Delta Public Library, and the Friends of the Delta Library, in celebrating its 100th birthday, Friday, June 1. A lunch for local businesses begins at 11:30 a.m., where donations will be accepted. The kids' carnival begins at 1 p.m. with carnival ticket sales being used as a fundraiser. A free performance by magician Ann Lincoln will begin at 6 p.m., followed by birthday cake and refreshments.
For more information about the 100th year celebration, contact the Delta Library at 874-9630 or visit the Delta County Libraries' website at www.deltalibraries.org.blog comments powered by Disqus