POSTED ON JANUARY 24, 2007:
Little Library Thinks Big
Imagination, hard work and faith in generous friends bouys Catoosa's public library
Just outside the Tulsa City-County Library system sits a little library not far from the heartbeat of Catoosa, population 5,838. The library was built only six years ago to service the basic information needs of the town's people, and now, Head Librarian Janie Ducotey asserts, the library can't grow fast enough to accommodate the steadily growing roster of local patrons.
Catoosa is a small town without a large tax base, and because it is largely a low-income area, there are few local or federal funds available to the library for growth and improvements.
That hasn't stopped Ducotey and the Library staff however, who hope to raise the money with the help of the Friends of the Catoosa Library, $25,000 in 2007, for the library's Children's Resource Challenge.
The funds will directly benefit the children's section of the library and would include computers for the kids to use, extra shelving space and books, and more programs in which school-age children can participate.
Since the library recently received a generous grant for 10 new computers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they would also like to add Wi-Fi to the library for patrons who would like to work on their laptops.
Much like Tulsa's Central Library, which recently added signage to their location, Wi-Fi access to two of their floors, and improvements and a snack area in their children's area, the Catoosa Library is trying to reach out to people who might not already be frequenters of the library.
They hope to appeal to a broader audience who might not be aware of all the library has to offer. Also, with more students simply conducting research online at home or even to attempt to attract students who might ordinarily be more interested in video games and TV than books, the libraries have to have pull to pique the interest of new, young patrons.
The location of the Catoosa Library is already a central gathering spot for Catoosans, as it is housed in the same building as a community center which hosts meetings, reunions and other special events.
Ducotey, however, would like to see the library become more of a destination in the town. She says that she has been seeing a steady increase in the number of visitors at the library, especially for special library events, and she hopes that the addition of the new computers will bring in new patrons.
"It's the people who use our library that make it special, not the library itself." She says she knows most of the children and adults who come in regularly, and that she even knows which new acquisitions to make for her most voracious readers. When she sees them, they often visit and laugh like old friends. It seems, then, that Ducotey is fostering an ideal environment in which the members of her close-knit town can thrive and learn, a true communal meeting place.
Ducotey is proud of the strides that the Catoosa Library has made since its opening in 2000. They have implemented kids' story times, Internet access, a Summer Reading Program and even an Adult Literacy campaign, but beyond their fundraising goals for the next year, Ducotey has other big plans in mind.
Even though the library has a small and frugal budget, her 5-year-plan includes launching a website and hiring someone to maintain it, expanding and updating their reference materials, purchasing large-print books, acquiring books on CD and more music, installing a security system and even expanding floor space.
In order to achieve these things, Ducotey insists that the Friends of the Catoosa Library group is the most valuable asset.
The Friends of the Catoosa Library, who are always looking for new "friends" to join in their cause, are committed to this fundraising campaign and promise to reach the monetary goal and raise and awareness for the library in the coming year.
They kicked off the campaign in early December with holiday festivities that included other Catoosa organizations such as the Masonic Lodge and the High School Music Department. The Challenge raised $1,372.93 on that one day, and Ducotey assures,
"This is only the beginning." The library staff and the Friends are planning a wealth of special events in the year to come, and they hope to involve as many people as possible from the Catoosa community, as well as visitors from neighboring towns.
Examples of these events include a visit from storyteller extraordinaire Terry Rollins on Sat., Feb. 3 from 11am-1:30pm, as well as a celebration for Washington's Birthday in February, where homemade Cherry Pies will be sold.
Please contact the library directly for a listing of upcoming events. They are located at 105 East Oak in Catoosa, and the phone number is 266-1684. For the next year, all fundraising efforts will go directly toward the Children's Resource Challenge.
Ducotey passionately calls on members of her town, and ours, to help their modest library reach its goals, reminding us that everyone can benefit from the contributions that libraries bring to our communities, both big and small.
She says that the library welcomes donations of any kind, including books, CDs and DVDs. People who are interested in becoming more directly involved in the Resource Challenge may contact the Friends of the Catoosa Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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