Kids Zone at the Grant County Library in Ulysses
Photos by Michele Boy
The heart of our cities, towns and counties: Libraries!
Grant County Library is more than books
Where can a family of all ages go to read, have coffee, research the world wide web, do crafts, sit by the fireplace, and more? Grant County Library. This multi-level, handicap accessible, community focused library is located on 215 E. Grant Avenue in Ulysses.
Serving a population of fewer than 8,000, this small southwestern town library offers more than a collection of books. And if you look back in history, Grant County has always had a big heart for its books. Thanks to a donation, in 1914, when the population was just 1,087, Grant County established its first library in the County Superintendent’s office. In 1930, the library was moved to the basement of the courthouse. Then, in 1956, a 7,000-square-foot structure was built next to the courthouse to house the library and museum.
As years went by, this great resource outgrew its space. With very little room for any more books, technology changing constantly, and the growing population, the building became cramped and outdated. So the community began to dream of a larger, more versatile building - one that better addressed the needs of the people.
Library Director Holly Mathes notes, “A small town depends on libraries much more than a large city. It is more than just books and materials. It is a community learning center, a place for organizational meetings, and a place that provides safe activities for children.”
In 2003, this dream became reality and the library moved into its new spacious 21,000 sq. ft. home. Today, this modern, three stories high, red brick structure with great windows that flood the rooms with light, more than meets the needs of their public. On average, 4,200 people access the library monthly, with a circulation between 4,500 and 5,000 books.
With more than a third of the population being Hispanic, Spanish books, videos and periodicals are on hand. Talking books for the blind and physically handicap are also available. And devices called Playaways similar to an mp3 player are used for audio books.
“In my opinion, these devices don’t have the romantic feeling of a book. They are cold metal without illustrations. Mathes said, “But some people love technology and we will incorporate it into the system.”
The building’s unique features include a great room with a fireplace, couches, and chairs, and over 145 magazines to browse. “Perks!” is a coffee shop that has coffee, snacks, and more. A young adult section has shelves of reference books, computers, and offers an after school program. But that is not all, besides a large conference center, computer lab, and outreach center, the library offers book clubs, summer reading programs, and after school programs.
The Childrens Room at the Grant County Library
One great treasure is the basement. It is a wonderland for small children. One side of the expanse is filled with bookshelves of easy juvenile reading books, audios, CDs, and lots of room to explore. Story Hour is a big hit from September through April for preschool children. The other side of the room is the “Aquarium.” It is decorated with a large mural of whales and fish, has a real aquarium, and a large crafting area for children to explore their creativity.
Because of a community’s dream and cooperative spirit, the tiny cramped building was revamped, remodeled, and overhauled. And today this library is cherished by its community.