East Helena — The library in East Helena is moving, and students pitched in by hauling materials in a wagon train book brigade.
Sahrara Peterson was one of the seventh and eighth-grade volunteers who happily pulled wagons through town on a sunny and warm Montana spring day. Peterson said she volunteered to help because she loves to read.
The move was prompted because of the library’s need for more space and longer hours, as well as differing Internet policies, so over the next month the East Valley Branch of the Lewis and Clark Public Library is moving out of East Valley Middle School into a full-service, standalone branch at 16 East Main Street.
Peterson said she’s not sad the library is moving, in fact, she thinks it’s a great idea.
“This will be good for kids around town to be able to get to books easier,” EVMS eighth-grader said. “It’s OK they are moving — they should have their own building since they are the public library.”
The wagon train book brigade is the culmination of a month-long project to support the relocation of the library, which has been located in the middle school in East Helena since 2001. The school’s annual Scholastic Book Fair is always intended to get students excited about reading and get some new books for the library. This year however, the additional focus includes supporting the library’s move by not only moving books, but also raising enough money to purchase a bike rack for the new location of the public library.
“The students surpassed their goal of raising money for the new bike rack, a testament to the ownership they feel for their community library,” said EVMS librarian Judy Salisbury.
Student involvement speaks to community support.
“Libraries truly are centers of the community as well as community centers,” said Judy Hart, Lewis and Clark Library director. “We are so thrilled to have the students this excited about helping with the expansion of their community library.
Hart said last year the library had a 6.7 percent increase in visitation, a 27 percent increase in circulation, and 33 percent increase in computer usage, which she anticipates will only increase with the new building.
“We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the East Helena School District and we are immensely appreciative of their help and support in getting our new branch up and running,” Hart said. “It truly takes a community to build a library.”
Salisbury admits she’ll miss the public library in the school. She says she’ll miss the fact that students can check out public library books through her during the day, but says the community is looking forward to a public library in East Helena with more hours of operation and more computers.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for them,” she said.
The carpet and furniture have been ordered, and library officials are hoping for a grand opening sometime in July.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or email@example.com