Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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Scranton Library Plans Belated ‘Homecoming’ Re-Opening Bash for Oct. 1

It’s a party years in the making for Madison’s library-lovers.

Going back to the referendum in 2017 where voters enthusiastically approved an expansion of their beloved library—or even further if you want to count all the planning—Scranton staff members have hoped to celebrate in-person with the community.

That is finally happening on Friday, Oct. 1, according to Scranton Director Sunnie Scarpa, more than a year after members of the public were first allowed in the newly renovated downtown location with the whole town finally able to gather for music, food, prizes, and special demonstrations of new library projects in a grand re-opening extravaganza.

“We never got to have a party, and we want to have a party,” Scarpa told The Source. “It’ll be a chance for us to gather—with masks on—but other than that, pretty normal...this building is a big accomplishment. A lot of people worked really hard to make it a reality. We want to take a moment to celebrate them.”

Along with simply serving as an occasion to celebrate, the Oct. 1 party is meant in part to highlight all the new opportunities and provide a “forward-looking” picture of what the new building can offer, Scarpa said. Attendees will be able to test out a new virtual reality system, vote for the next addition to Scranton’s “library of things” collection, and potentially hear about new programs and initiatives scheduled for the near future.

After aiming for July 2020 as its reopening date, Scranton was forced to push everything back after the pandemic hit, eventually opening its doors in starts and stutters, either letting people in by appointment or in very limited numbers and hours. Some new staff hires last spring allowed the library to begin formulating a return to regular operations, and Scarpa said August was the first month they really got to see what the new building might look like in post-pandemic conditions.

“It’s been really validating to see the numbers coming in and seeing things really from May to now—everything going up, up, up,” she said.

In August, 500 people used library meeting rooms, according to Scarpa, an almost 600 percent increase over July. From June to July, Scranton saw a 10 percent increase in foot traffic with more than 6,700 in-person visitors that month, and a 20 percent increase in circulation. Just under 1,000 people attended library programs, including 604 showing up for children’s programs.

September is also national Library Card Sign-Up Month, which Scarpa said has been just another opportunity to help remind people of all the connections that their local library can create for them as in-person interactions become safer.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg, what we’re doing right now,” she said.

Scarpa said she was particularly excited to talk about and show off the “expanded possibilities” of the new spaces created by the renovation, which the library’s trustees and the long-running Building Committee have been “visionary about” for years.

These include everything from the aforementioned public meeting and study spaces, a special historic room, and the new children’s library, which will receive its own dedication the following day on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Along with the relief and validation of finally seeing the library open and watching Madison residents flock back to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by Scranton, Scarpa said a homecoming re-opening party is just a way to offer thanks to everyone who has supported and waited patiently with them.

“Whether you were aware of the history or not, everyone can come see what is now possible,” she said.

The Scranton re-opening party will take place on Friday, Oct. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. The children’s library dedication will be on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. For more information on the Scranton Memorial Library, visit www.scrantonlibrary.org.


Jesse Williams covers Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Jesse at j.williams@shorepublishing.com.

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