Upgrades to Frankford Public Library can probably be described in one word: “Space,” said director Liz Hamilton. “Wide open spaces.”
After closing for nearly three weeks in September for renovations, the building has more than tripled in size, from 1,900 to 6,200 square feet, stretching back onto a second lot on Green Street.
The bright building still smelled like fresh paint (“That new library smell!” said children’s librarian Dorothy Fisch) as librarians welcomed patrons back into the building this week.
“Most everybody goes, ‘Oh, wow,’ just like you did,” Hamilton said. “I think it’s different enough that it does have a little bit of a wow-factor, but what’s in here is similar enough that people can figure out what to do.”
From the former front of the library at 8 Main Street, the building looks almost identical, but it has expanded over the former north-side parking lot, and a freshly-planted lawn now faces the street.
Visitors can now park behind the library and enter a new grand entrance on Green Street.
A vestibule leads to the circulation desk. From there, patrons can walk a wide circular layout, past the computer area, main bookshelves, magazine racks, around to the children’s area and movie collection, approaching the entrance again.
“You’re standing in the children’s room and thinking, ‘This used to be the whole library,’” said Hamilton, who finally has her own office.
Those familiar corners are enhanced by new amenities: reading couches, study tables, family-sized restrooms and children’s computers with educational and entertainment software.
Adults can access programs for writing résumés, finding jobs and taking courses online.
The Frankford library will debut a special Teen Zone for patrons in grades 6 and up, which may even get a gaming center in the future.
Of course, the library hearkens back to its literary origins, with comfortable reading areas by a large bay window overlooking Main Street and the Frankford Fire Hall.
Millsboro’s Fabian Poppel is a frequent patron who uses the computers and reads at the library. He was most surprised to see “how lit up” the renovated Frankford library was with natural sunlight.
“The old one was a lot darker, more closed. … It looks good. Definitely a lot more space in the new one.”
The Frankford Public Library was established in 1931, with just 28 books. In 1958, it moved into a former bank building, which is now Frankford Town Hall. The current building, located just across the street, was donated in 1981, and, in 2002, the library purchased the adjacent Green Street lot.
“When I took this job in 2004, I realized there was a great need for additional space, and it’s taken from then to now, but we finally have the space,” Hamilton said, adding with a laugh — but truthfully — that it’s now time for her to retire.
All the major renovation work is done. Only minor touch-ups remain, such as painting, shelving books, assembling furniture and returning materials and the storage shed to the library property. Hamilton said volunteers and the work-release program did an “amazing amount of work” for the library, too.
“We’ve been working pretty hard,” Fisch said.
Now, the Frankford library can stride headfirst into the 21st century.
“I think that the space will serve the community in Frankford and our service areas,” which is 1,000 people and 8,000 people, respectively, said Hamilton. “We expect to see a lot of people coming back to see us.”
Frankford residents Leonel Lopez and Juan Ortiz registered for new library cards and toured the building last week with librarian Rosa Castro.
“It’s nice. You don’t find that many translators to help the Hispanic community,” said Lopez, who didn’t have an Internet connection at home but was starting college courses and work with the National Guard.
Ortiz was preparing to write a sports-medicine essay.
The staff at the Frankford Public Library hopes to host more programs in the future. With limited staff, they hope local folks will lead programs, too. The preschool storytime has already returned, on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.
“This is it! This is the community’s hub. But they’ve got a whole lot more library to look at,” said Hamilton.
The official library grand opening will be Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m., with speeches and refreshments. Frankford Public Library is also currently accepting donations for a Nov. 16 book sale.