Farmington Public Library, One of the Most Beautiful in America

3/29/2021

The Farmington Public Library started from a private collection of books in 1921, owned by the town’s first librarian, Larena Mahany. Now, it's an award-winning work of art, serving San Juan County and beyond. Written by Donna Hewett

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A library is more than

its collection of books.

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It makes a community livable.

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It's a place of safety

where all are welcomed

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without cost to learn, have

fun, tap into valuable resources

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and to leisurely browse

high-anticipated book covers

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on well-lit shelves.

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To reopen the Farmington

Public Library's doors

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and keep them open amidst the pandemic,

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Director Karen McPheeters

had to switch pages.

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You're watching the Local News Network

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brought to you by CMIT Solutions

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and Express Employment Professionals.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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Just beginning her third

decade as head librarian,

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McPheeters found herself

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in a strange position last spring.

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You have programming to get

people in to use the library.

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We just did, for the last

year, we've done the opposite.

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We've done things to keep people out.

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So in that period of time,

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we were getting a lot of electronic use,

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digital downloads, eBooks,

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databases.

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We made an e-card, so you can

just get a library card online

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and check out books that day.

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The library closed for

only six or so weeks

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throughout the pandemic.

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Quite a feat when you

consider that many libraries

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across the nation remain shut.

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But for many readers, even

limited hours are a blessing.

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We are a busy library,

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and we're the largest

library for quite a few miles

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for a lot of people.

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We have people, cardholders

in Colorado, Utah, Arizona.

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And of course we serve San Juan County,

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which is about the same sizes

as the state of Connecticut.

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San Juan County's really big,

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so because of that, it gets used a lot.

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We've had years where the daily usage

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is around 2,000 people a day.

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We've been, right before the pandemic

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it was probably closer to 1,100

or a thousand people a day.

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Still, lot of folks who

dearly miss their routine

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of browsing the shelves, picking up books,

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returning them, are

keeping their distance.

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Some of the trends that

we've seen is that people

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are still being very cautious

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and that's probably a good thing.

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And when they're coming in here, we're

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we're doing everything

by the book, so to speak.

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I am

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cautiously optimistic

about in-person programming

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maybe

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next fall.

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I don't see us doing that this summer,

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so I'm a little worried about that.

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This year, McPheeters won't be hosting

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200 excited kids a week

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for her annual youth summer

reading program, inside that is.

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She's developed three large

outdoor reading events

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that have a more individualized

focus and a chance

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for the kids to compete for cool prizes.

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Because the library does serve

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a significantly larger population

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than just the city of Farmington,

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considerable demands are

placed on existing collections.

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The shorter hours have provided McPheeters

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and her crew a rare chance

to get caught up and ready

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for the return of readers en masse.

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Because we were limited hours,

we took the time to work

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on our collections and kind of catch up.

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We were so busy, a lot of the times

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we don't get to have that care

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and feeding of the collection.

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And so we put some

investment back into our core

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library services.

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And I think we're well positioned

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for that growth to happen again.

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We're going to be here when

they want to come back.

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The 10,000-square foot

structure, with 65 foot ceilings,

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opened in 2003 garnering numerous awards

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for spectacular lighting and

innovative native design.

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And it's regularly listed

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as one of the most beautiful

libraries in America.

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Farmington Library originated back in 1921

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when Loraina Mahaney turned

the parlor of her home

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on 506 Arrington Street into a study club.

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Mahaney would be gratified to know

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that 100 years later her private

book collection has grown

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into an iconic $7 million crown jewel.

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The Farmington Public Library's located

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at 2101 Farmington Avenue,

open 1 to 6:00 p.m.,

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Monday through Thursday

and 10 to 2 on Saturday.

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For more information on

summer reading activities,

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search #ReadFarmington

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or look for Tails and

Tales at infoway.org.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the local news network.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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