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Douglas County Library has more to offer than just books

Dawn Dailey, Douglas County Library director, says there are many activities and events for kids, teens and adults.

Douglas County Library
Patrons of the Douglas County Library browse the library catalog to find the items they are looking for.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press
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DOUGLAS COUNTY — Libraries are no longer a place where patrons get shushed from an evil-eyed librarian. Instead, libraries nowadays – at least the Douglas County Library – are a neutral place for people to gather.

Dawn Dailey, Douglas County Library director, said the Douglas County Library is a place for everyone, a place for people to study, to play, to congregate, to learn, to meet up with friends or even a place to meet new friends. She said it is a place for people to share ideas, recipes, favorite books to read, a place for people to share about their kids’ success or what’s happening with their family members.

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Dawn Dailey

Yes, sometimes it does get a little loud and maybe the librarians might ask people to be a little quieter, but she said they very seldom have to do that.

“There is more to libraries than books now,” said Dailey. “There are e-books, computers, printers, newspapers, magazines, events and more. We want to be your one-stop shop. You need to study, we got you. You need to print something, we got it. You need to scan some documents, we can do that. You need a state park pass, we got that, too. We got it all.”

Teen book section
The Douglas County Library has a new section for teen books and other materials.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Dailey said these days libraries are as important as ever and that the library provides multigenerational spaces. She said that besides being fun, multigenerational play has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits for both adults and children.

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“Families need these comfortable safe spaces to come together and play, and we offer this at the library,” she said. “Whether it's playing at the large ‘Lite Brite’ in the children’s area or the small interactive computers, we are seeing more families playing together.”

child playing with light board
Sunday Johnson plays with a new light board in the children's area of the Douglas County Library on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

She said there are also large puzzles out on the table and that everyone stops by and adds a few pieces at a time – adults, teens and children all work on it.

The library also offers events and activities for children, teens and adults.

Sarah Wethern is the children’s librarian and hosts many events, including story hours and a host of kid-centered activities.

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Sarah Wethern

Dailey said Wethern does a great job with children’s activities and planning all the events that are geared toward children.

Something new to the library is the new teen area.

“We’ve always had a small section, but we decided that teens should have their own space,” said Dailey.

The teen area features a new sitting area complete with reclining floor chairs, pillow and wobble chairs. She said there is a new dry erase board for teens to leave messages.

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Children's library
Kevin Boike helps his daughter, Brilyn, with a puzzle in the children's section of the Douglas County Library on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Melissa Wales is the teen librarian and Dailey said she would be starting a teen book club soon. In addition, Wales is in charge of putting together teen bags. Dailey explained that teens just need to fill out a questionnaire for types of books they like and Wales will hand pick the books to put in the bag and then teens can just pick them up.

“She really has some great ideas,” said Dailey.

Yeisa Fredrickson is the adult librarian and Dailey said she does a great job putting together events for adults, including a book club that meets on a regular basis, as well as many other programs. She said there are arts and crafts events, author events, painting classes, book folding classes and more.

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Yeisa Fredrickson

Dailey also noted that all the activities and events planned at the library are either sponsored by the Friends of the Library group or Legacy Funds or are in the budget of the library.

When asked why the library has so much to offer, Dailey simply said it’s to get people in the door.

“People get to meet other people here,” she said. “It’s a place that brings people together.”

For those who may not want all the hubbub, the library does offer quiet spaces, too. Dailey said there are study rooms and other rooms available for people to use. And she said, the library offers proctor services for those who need someone to proctor an exam. There is a small fee for that, she added.

man reading newspaper in library
Norm Anderson reads the newspaper in the reading area at the Douglas County Library in Alexandria on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.

When it comes to how many books are being checked out of the library, Dailey said on average, there are between 800 to 1,000 physical books being checked out each and every day.

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In October, 21,782 items were checked out and there were 2,533 e-books checked out in October.

“That does not include how many times the newspapers, magazines or other items are looked at or browsed through but never checked out,” she said.

Dailey added that on average, there are between 600 and 650 people who stop into the library each day.

“We are quite busy here at the library!” she said.

Library story time
Sarah Wethern, youth librarian, reads to children during a storytime event at the Douglas County Library in Alexandria on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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