Spring Hill Library abuzz with page turners

Spring Hill Library abuzz with page turners

June marked the busiest month ever at the Spring Hill Public Library as some 30,000 items were circulated, library director Alan Couch said.

June marked the busiest month ever at the Spring Hill Public Library as some 30,000 items were circulated, library director Alan Couch said.

The library staff has a full schedule of summer events planned to encourage even more reading, art and discussion among patrons, he said.

“We do all kinds of programs, author events, art exhibits, whatever we need to do to meet the needs of this community,†Couch said. “We host over 600 programs a year.â€

Couch said all of that rich programming is leading to the mixed blessing of relentless growth. In 2006, the library expanded from its then modest 4,000 square-foot facility to its present space of 17,000 square feet.

“This is the fifth iteration of the library so far, but we’re way beyond capacity for the space we need,†he said. “That is the one minimum standard for Tennessee libraries that we don’t meet, square feet per capita.â€

Couch said he is thrilled with the popularity of the summer reading programs that are divided by age level.

“With all of this growth in Spring Hill, more people than ever have signed up to read a book a week. This is the first time we’ve had an adult program, and over 200 adults are reading with us. It’s a way that parents can encourage kids to read and participate with them.â€

Adult readers get weekly prizes and are registered to win the season-ending grand prize, a Kindle Fire HD.

Couch sees a connection between the increased use of the library and the demographic makeup of those moving into Spring Hill.

“The city keeps growing and thriving, and we race to grow with it,†he said. “The two main kinds of folks you see coming in over the last 25 years are lots of young families with kids, and then lots of educated people. Well, those are the two main demographic users of libraries. As long as that growth continues, the library will have a challenge to keep services and programs up to demand.â€

The Spring Hill Public Library hosts over 600 programs a year. Ventriloquist Gene Cordova performed at the library Tuesday.

The library’s need to offer both variety and volume of programming is a reflection of national trends, Couch said.

“Most national libraries are transitioning to become like living rooms,†he said. “Rather than just providing content for the user, libraries are becoming places where people come to participate in creative activity. And we want [Spring Hill Public Library] to have dedicated spaces for creating content.â€

Couch and the library board will meet in August and September with focus groups to assess the needs for improving the library, to gauge the wishes of Spring Hill citizens, and to think about making more space. The library has already introduced many creative and useful services for patrons that go beyond the usual book borrowing.

“We have all kinds of groups using us for meetings,†Couch said. “We’ve recently held nursing classes here, the public schools gave ACT exams, and we even hosted a group who were doing a podcast recording. And I think it’s awesome for the library to be at the center of all that learning and creativity. We want to provide as much and as many different services to our patrons as possible.â€

Couch has been library director since early 2012 when he arrived after running several libraries in California. Prior to that, Couch directed a library near Philadelphia. He is originally from Mobile, Ala., and earned his Master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Alabama in 2005.

Children’s librarian Marsha Gallardo has several roles, including her work coordinating the weekly children’s events and publicizing whatever is happening at the library. Her latest event was held Tuesday in the large event room off the children’s library, where ventriloquist Gene Cordova taught and entertained a roomful of children.

Gallardo said that the library will welcome Mary Ann Weakley, “a former well-known resident of Spring Hill†who is now the author of a memoir, “Monastery to Matrimony.†Weakley entered a convent to become a nun when she was 17 and stayed there 20 years. Her memoir describes her struggle to resume life outside of the convent, her eventual marriage, and desire to write. Weakley will be at the library for a public event on July 24 from 4-6 p.m. to discuss and sign her book.

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for BrentWord Communications. Contact him at greg@springhillhomepage.com.

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