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Cloverdale Comments - January 2017

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Cloverdale Comments - January 2017

by Carol Russell

“Courage and optimism: driving forces of the future of libraries." Teresa Taboas

History shows that a healthy dose of courage and optimism were driving forces of  libraries in the past, too. In 1884, one of our county’s first such organizations, the Cloverdale Library Association, rented books for 30 cents/month from its Library Hall. After that burned down in 1911, our resolute Women’s Improvement Club (WIC) gathered contributions to open a new, all volunteer facility in the historic Citrus Fair complex.

In 1921, thanks to donated property plus a Carnegie grant, WIC wasted no time realizing their goal of building a combined club location and Cloverdale Free Library. Nestled next to another prohibition era landmark, Pick’s Drive–In, the classic, single-story, fondly remembered brown shingled structure is, appropriately enough, now home to Voss Signature Vintage clothing

Then, in 1979, twenty-plus years after joining the county system, WIC sold the property to help raise funds to expand into a new Cloverdale Regional Library building further up the Boulevard. 

Closed since last October for the three months required by its extensive “Refresh Project” and reopening December 20th to a most appreciative assembly of City officials, current and retired library professionals, County Library Director Lear, “Friends of the Library” members and local library fans of all ages whose delighted comments included: “Beautiful!”, “So open, bright and inviting!”, “Look, a new computer bank!”, “Really cool carpets and furnishings!” Yes! Our wonderfully refreshed library boasts improvements as varied as seismic bracing, a totally redesigned space layout, upgraded ADA parking, and new checkout technology. Yet, it is still our cherished place of safety, equality, entertainment, knowledge and discovery as well as the priceless brand of community and personal optimism public libraries both demonstrate and encourage.  

In charge of it all is Branch Manager Stephanie Hope-Cochran who just came aboard in September. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she was free to roam her public library, church and school. Teachers encouraged her to use the library as a safe place to grow and expand and, ultimately, to begin her career. 

After earning a degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University plus a Master’s degree in Library Science from Wayne State, Stephanie returned to Florida to serve in a Dade County Library as a “mini-Branch” Manager, working primarily with children. Her next position was with a branch in the Miami Gardens area – which she describes as a “challenged” location. Here she started a successful program emphasizing collaboration through photography, music, art, film, and the spoken word. With the result that many young people who never dreamed it possible went on to college.

Next, crossing the country to an opportunity in Westland, Oregon (just outside of Portland), she was mentored by an energetic library director who taught her the skills necessary to effectively manage a library. 

And, now, we’re pleased to say, Stephanie’s here in Cloverdale. A self-described “quirky” person who plays the piano and likes to fix things (just give her a tool!), when Reece recently spoke with her, she emphasized that the “service of people comes first” and believes the Library is not “just a facility” but, rather, “a central part of the community” reflecting all its diversity and positive aspects.

We’d like to leave you with this: Picture a little kid at the checkout desk. Tiny hands clutching books and brand new library card to tiny chest. Big eyes wide. Little face beaming excitedly. Mom, Dad or Grandparent proudly explaining it’s “the first time checking out a book all on their own.” Over the years most library goers will witness this once-in-a-lifetime moment, while a number of of us can recall experiencing it ourselves. Just as libraries have for the past 4,600 years of their evolution from simple records storage, modern library systems continue to evolve into their and our future – reflecting, nurturing and celebrating the positive changes brought about by optimistic growth, both within their home communities and their individual cardholders. 

Cloverdale Regional Library is currently open: Tues., Thurs. & Fri., 10am-6pm; Wed. 10am-8pm; Sat., 10am-4pm. Thanks to overwhelming passage of Measure Y, county libraries can look forward to a much improved library system. April is Cloverdale’s target for opening on Mon. from 10am-9pm and extending to 9pm on Wed. As 2017 progresses, we look forward to enjoying more library hours and additional programs.