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Gering city officials visit innovative library
May 08, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Several Gering representatives were in Colorado recently to get a firsthand look at how local libraries are evolving to meet community needs.

The Anythink Wright Farms Library in Thornton, Colo. incorporates an outdoor park into the 45,000 square foot main library building. It’s the main facility in Thornton’s seven library district.

Areas are devoted to technology with computers and a video and sound production lab for patrons to create their own productions. There is also a photography lab.

Gering Library Director Diane Downer was joined by City Administrator Lane Danielzuk, council member Larry Gibbs and members of the Library Board for the trip. On the day of the visit, young library patrons were watching several chicks hatch in the library’s incubator display.

“I was impressed with what they’re doing,” Gibbs said. “It’s way out of scale with what we could possibly do because their library district serves more than 300,000 people. And outside of their debt service, their annual budget is 11 million dollars.”

The library is also geared toward education for both adults and students. Quiet areas for study halls are part of the plan, which includes a large teen area. Continuing education classes are also taught at Anythink.

“It’s a beautiful library and they have the room to do a lot more than we ever could here,” Downer said. “But a lot of the services they offer we also have, like story time and the summer reading program.”

One of differences is that Anythink has moved away from the traditional Dewey Decimal system for cataloging books and gone toward a type of system used in bookstores. The tall book shelves have been replaced by shorter ones. That not only improves the sight lines, but also makes it easier for patrons to reach the book they want. Anythink also has a self-checkout service for books and also a drive-up window to checkout or return books.

“Their philosophy is to have people participate in what’s going on,” she said. “They have what they call ‘experience zones,’ but it requires a larger staff and more space than what we have in Gering.”

Currently, the Gering Public Library covers about 12,000 square feet of space on two floors.

“There might be some things we could try down the road if we could build a larger facility,” Downer said. “A lot of the things we saw are already offered here, so I don’t see a lot of changes. Anyway, my staff does a great job of serving the public.”
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