This year has brought some major changes to the Bradford Area Public Library.
New staff members have joined the non-profit organization, and officials have also unveiled expansion plans for the children's room.
And from what leaders had to say during an open house held Monday night, these changes are key to the future of the ever-growing facility on West Washington Street.
The library doors were opened to the public on Monday night so the library board of trustees could introduce new executive director Lacey Love, give a progress report, and celebrate Fran Goodrich's 25 years of service.
"This year, we have gone through quite a bit of transition, which has only made our library stronger," said library trustee chairwoman Chris Minich. "Our community support has been astounding. The library is full every day."
And she said the library programming is expanding.
"So our participation from patrons is the foundation for the growth of the library," Minich said. "And we need that to continue on."
And one of the newest members to join the staff is key to moving the library forward, as well. She is Lacey Love, the new library executive director who started this month.
Love is from southern Pennsylvania and replaces Guy Bennett, who stepped down in August. She has a broad background in librarianship, since she has worked or volunteered in college and public libraries for the last six years. Before coming to Bradford, Love was a library assistant at the Scott Township Public Library, south of Pittsburgh.
She is still settling into her new digs at the library.
"But I'm really excited to get in there and make some changes," Love said.
A priority Love has is to market the library by using social media, having the website redesigned, and a newsletter could also be published. An intern from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is part of that process, Love said.
"So we want to figure out how to market our programs in the best way possible to lots of different demographics — seniors to teenagers to parents," Love said.
Love said she wants to offer more adult programs, especial technology related. That could include making Internet basics, how to create an email account and using Microsoft programs.
"I'm also looking forward to improving the collection and being able to offer different types of resources to our patrons, so more DVDs, more audio books" as well as books for Kindles, she said.
Love said she is looking forward to getting started.
"With Lacey's outstanding academic credentials and ... librarianship, her love of reading and dedication to literacy, the board is confident she will move the library forward and help us capitalize and promote the many resources our library has to offer," said board trustee Tina Martin.
Personnel isn't the only change at the library. The facility is getting an update as well.
Plans are under way for an Early Childhood Literacy Center that would be geared to children 0 to 5. The center is expected to be operational by the end of the year and is intended to encourage exploration in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
"We have developed an early learning team and we're in the process of creating a year-long literacy plan. We've named our project Story Seekers," said Sandy Caprarotta, who is the early childhood literacy consultant.
The Early Childwood Literacy Center will include stories and activities.
"Families will have opportunities to work together using a variety of materials to retell familiar stories and make up new ones," she said.
Themes could also include famous author studies, seasonal projects or study of the natural world, Caprarotta said.
"When young children learn how to make things with their hands, stories come to life and real learning beings and grows them into life-long learners," she said.
The library already has a large children's program, and the Early Childhood Literacy Center will help expand those efforts.
"The best part of this job is meeting the families," said Judy Carr, who is the community outreach and program coordinator at the library. "And I love being out in he community, also."
She has welcomed families to come in and read to their children.
"So we have several mothers that come in and we read to our children," said Carr who joined the library earlier this year.
Also, children from area daycares visit the library for storytime.
Also on Monday, library officials reflected on years gone by celebrating Goodrich's 25 years of service.
Goodrich has handled many duties at the library, and that continues today. She works at the front desk, does the memorials and honorians, orders books and manages interlibrary loans. Goodrich has also trained executive directors, staff and board members. She is a "kindred spirit to 'Whispurr' the cat," the feline that lives at the library, said trustee vice chairwoman Lee Ann Doynow said.
"She has given her wisdom, her service and her expertise to the board, staff and community," Doynow said.
Goodrich said she is proud to have worked at the library for 25 years, adding she remembers using paper cards with metal plates.
"We did things mostly by hand at that time, and we had manual typewriters. We had telephones you had to dial. Now the telephones are smarter than I am," Goodrich said.
Goodrich said she has formed many friendships with patrons and the community.
But it wasn't always a happy time at the library, she remembers. At one point the library was on the brink of closure shortly after moving into the building on West Washington Street in the early 1990s from Congress Street. Funds were running dry.
Seven or eight part-time staff were laid off, and the four full-timers took over the library, she said. The library stayed open to patrons to they could read newspapers and more, Goodrich said.
"There was a group of people that said, 'No, we aren't going to let this happen,'" Goodrich said.
The community needed a library and wanted a library, she said.
A grassroots committee formed, and members set up tables in the parking lot looking for donations, she said.
"They raised enough for us to keep open, and for that I am very grateful," Goodrich said.