West Lafayette Branch Library vital in community for 85 years – Coshocton Tribune

WEST LAFAYETT — For 85 years, the West Lafayette Branch Library has served to connect the village to the main library in Coshocton and the world at-large.
The milestone anniversary was recognized in a ceremony this week under the reading shelter built by the West Lafayette Rotary Club. It featured a presentation on the branch’s history, performance by the Ridgewood High School Choir, flag presentation by Boy Scout Troop 419 and singing of the National Anthem by Keeley Carter. State Sen. Jay Hottinger also sent a proclamation recognizing the occasion.  
Mayor Stephen Bordenkircher said he often uses the library himself and it’s an important part of life in West Lafayette and what it has to offer not only to longtime citizens, but new residents. He mentioned his children attending story times when they were younger and him listening to books on tape or CD when traveling. 
“It’s meant a lot to me in my life. It’s just been a hub for the community and a great place. I hope it’s still here in another 85 years,” he said. 
Jennifer Austin, executive director of the library system, said not counting the bookmobile, the West Lafayette outlet is the only branch they have. Statistics show it’s being used and reviewing its history illustrates how ingrained it’s become into the village. 
“We know how much the community loves the branch library,” Austin said. “We know there is a need in the community. We know there is youth that will walk here after school who live in the village. They come here to use the internet and to check out books. We know older adults as well, having a branch right here in the village that they can walk to is beneficial.” 
Andrea Schweitzer Smith is the current branch manager. She’s been with the library system for 34 years and started out working weekends at the branch at its last location. She also did preschool story times at the branchn and has been the manager for more than 15 years.
The biggest change she’s seen in her time is how the collection has expanded through digital means. Based on different platforms and agreements with other library systems, the amount of material one can access in a small village like West Lafayette is almost limitless.
It was announced at the ceremony that the Hoopla web and mobile library media streaming platform have enabled patrons to check out 10 items per month instead of 5. The branch also recently added mobile WiFi hotspots that patrons can check out and take home for use. The hotspots don’t throttle down and can be checked out for two weeks.
“We see people using the library computers to be online, but those statistics have changed where we’re seeing more WiFi users. They have their own devices, they just don’t have high-speed internet,” Smith said. 
The branch’s history
The branch opened Oct. 10, 1936, in a vacant, basement room of the West Lafayette School building on Main Street. Shelves and racks were built by the West Lafayette High School industrial arts class. Many individuals and community service organizations donated funds and services to provide books and equipment to get started. 
Nellie Moore Guilliams and Mary Ellen Moore Powell, among others, served as volunteer staff until Mrs. Jerry Newman was hired as the first librarian. Guilliams later became the librarian and served in that position for 42 years, with 64 total years of library service to her credit. 
In August 1946, the library was moved to the Rehard Building at 117 E. Main St. At the time, it had 3,000 volumes. It relocated again in Oct. 1975 to 108 E. Main St. At that time, the library had more than 7,000 books and started to broaden its collection to include books on tape and video cassettes. 
As the collection grew, it was decided a bigger building was needed. The former Apple’s Pennzoil Station at the corner of Main Street and Ohio 93 was converted into the new library and opened in July 1991. The new interior was designed by Pamela Maxfield-Ontko and constructed by Carl Cognion Construction. The West Lafayette Rotary Club, West Lafayette Lions Club and West Lafayette Junior Guild helped to transport materials and equipment to their new home. 
During this period the collection grew to 15,000 books. It also included subscriptions to three newspapers and 30 magazines, a copy machine and 430 video tapes.
The West Lafayette Rotary Club donated the outdoor reading shelter in 2005. In 2009, the West Lafayette Janusian Club and the West Lafayette Junior Guild provided patio tables and seating for an outdoor reading garden.   
Over the past decade, the branch has used new technology to expand its offerings with high-speed internet and access to a great deal of materials through digital databases. It also offers mobile printing, digital scanning and WiFi hotspots. As a member of the SEO (Serving Every Ohioan) consortium, West Lafayette Branch library patrons have access to more than 8.1 million physical items from 98 library systems at 258 service points from 49 Ohio counties. 
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