Check this out: Lake Elmo library adds more hours

LAKE ELMO — Increased interest in, and use of, the Lake Elmo Public Library led library officials to increase the hours the  one-year-old facility is open.
The library is now open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to new director Linda Orsted. The library is also open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Orsted said the library board would consider adding more hours depending on demand.
“We believe in being as accessible as possible,” Orsted said. “The more we standardize our hours of service, the easier it is for people to remember when we are open. We are hoping to add some after-school hours on Mondays and Wednesdays if we can schedule enough volunteer hours.”
However, Orsted believes the recently added hours will benefit library patrons.
“We have more time for the public,” she said. “We need more volunteers, especially for the after-school program.”
Potential volunteers can stop in the library and pick up an application, or call 651-773-4926 to have one mailed. When the library is closed, the catalog and information about library services and programs are available at lakeelmopubliclibrary.org.
Orsted, who joined the Lake Elmo library in mid-July, said the decision to add hours came after the library completed what proved a popular summer reading program for kindergarten through sixth-graders.
“We had over 175 kids involved,” she said. “They seemed to be very enthused. They enjoyed the reading challenge. That’s what we wanted them to do; keep reading to keep their literacy skills up in the summer.”
Orsted said library officials would like to expand the summer reading program next year.
“In the future I hope we can expand it to more age groups,” she said.
Orsted also said a stable group of volunteers remain enthusiastic and committed to helping the Lake Elmo library.
“We have some people come in on the same day and at the same time,” she said.
Running the Lake Elmo library’s daily operations is the challenge Orsted sought when she looked for a job in Minnesota.
“I was looking for something new. I was looking for something a little different, a challenge, something that would bring me back to Minnesota,” she said.
Orsted came to the city-run public library that is still growing into its home in the Clock Building on Lake Elmo Avenue in the old village section of the city.
The Lake Elmo City Council voted in late 2011 to leave the Washington County Library system, take its share of a $250,000 levy and start a city library. WCL responded by closing and clearing materials out of its former Rosalie E. Wahl branch in January 2012.
Orsted said one advantage the city library has greater control. She noted that the WCL Wahl branch had 20 hours of open library time before it closed.
“Probably the main advantage is the control we have over our operations,” she said.
Orsted said the city’s library board communicates frequently with city officials about library operations and provides a monthly report to the city council to keep officials educated about the library’s mission.
Orsted said Lake Elmo residents continue supporting the library by donating materials and taking out library cards.
“The ones that come in are enthused,” she said. “It’s sort of a novelty to some. They come in to see what we have.”
If community interest continues growing, the Lake Elmo Public Library could be available more often to residents, according to Orsted.
“We’re hoping to get 40 hours a week. We’re not there yet,” Orsted said.

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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