Greenwood, Del., June 24, 2014: The Greenwood Public Library is beginning a new chapter in its 36-year history, as Sussex County officials, local and state dignitaries and the public gathered to take the cover off a new $3.1 million facility that promises to serve as a state-of-the-art information hub for the community.
The new 10,400-square-foot facility on Mill Street, in the heart of downtown Greenwood, opened to the public Tuesday, June 24, after County Council members, Department of Libraries staff, state leaders and other invited guests celebrated the end of a more-than-two-years-long construction project with a ribbon cutting and open house.
The new facility is nearly triple the size of the building it replaced, and features a stocked bookshelf of amenities, from more than 32,000 print and audio books, DVDs and other media, to more than two dozen computer stations, broadband wireless Internet, dedicated seating, activity rooms, and community meeting space – something that was lacking in the old facility.
“This is one book the community can proudly judge by its cover,” County Librarian Kathy M. Graybeal said. “Looking at it from the street, you see a beautiful building that is inviting and expansive, full of information and adventure to endless possibilities. The true story, though, is not the materials that lie within, but the people who make up our local library – from the dedicated staff to the people of the community who look to this library as their social and cultural center.
“We’re hopeful the community that depends so heavily on this library will come here and enjoy the access to knowledge and information we have contained within these walls,” Ms. Graybeal said.
The unveiling and opening Tuesday was the culmination of a project first envisioned as early as 2008, when plans began to circulate for a new library to replace the aging, cramped structure that had stood on site since 1988. Prior to that 3,600-square-foot building, the Greenwood Public Library had been contained in a mobile home, which was first lent to the County in 1978.
Over the years, as attendance, circulation, and programing increased at the library, County library staff were forced to branch out to other facilities to meet the community’s need. Eventually, planning began for a new, expanded facility, and with funding in place -- $1.55 million from the State of Delaware, $1.55 million from Sussex County government and $150,000 from the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library group – construction began in the winter of 2012. During construction, the library relocated to a temporary facility on U.S. Route 13.
“We’ve had some weather delays along the way, to say the least, but we’re finally here,” County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “I know our staff is glad this day has arrived, but more importantly, I know the people of Greenwood and the patrons of this library are excited to have this project complete. Now they can enjoy their library and the many years of hard work.”
The Greenwood project is the last of a years-long effort by the County to update its library facilities, with previous expansion projects having been completed at Milton and South Coastal in Bethany Beach, Ms. Graybeal said. The Greenwood Public Library is one of three County-owned facilities that, along with 11 independent libraries, form the county library system.
Contrary to misconceptions some in the public might have, technology is not making libraries obsolete in 2014 – it is enhancing the experience, and with the downturn in the economy in recent years, many households turn to their local libraries as sources for media, information, and as job resource centers, Ms. Graybeal said. Hence the need for projects like this.
“The format is what’s changed; we’ve gone from papyrus to the Internet,” Ms. Graybeal said. “But the mission remains the same as it did 2,500 years ago. Libraries are here to stay.”