Children, parents, grandparents and other members of an excited community toured the collection of the new Holts Summit Public Library with wide eyes Tuesday as it held its soft opening.
"We're very excited," Sarah Kline said as she gathered the coats of her three sons and the books they had chosen to check out. "It's closer to home, so we can come every week and multiple times a week if we want."
The new library is part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library system, which agreed to open the branch after the Holts Summit Community Empowerment Foundation renovated the space in the Summit Plaza at 188 W. Simon Blvd.
Kline also has a baby daughter who will one day visit the library. As her sons Cooper, Dean and Thomas explored the rows of books, Kline said before now, they've had to travel to Fulton, Columbia or Jefferson City to visit a library. DBRL's mobile book stop, which regularly came to Holts Summit was nice, she added, but can't match what a dedicated space provides.
"We homeschool, so it may be used if we're studying something that we want books on," she added. "We may just come over and get them."
Margaret Conroy, director of DBRL, said the Holts Summit branch is an equal to the system's other locations in Fulton and Ashland.
"Really, the only difference is that we're only going to be able to be open 20 hours a week here, at least for a couple of years," Conroy said. "Hopefully, we will be able to expand to the same hours that we have in Ashland."
Holts Summit was the most popular location in DBRL's Book Mobile program, she added, so the hope is for that success to transfer to the new location.
Conroy said the library wants to stress it is there to serve southern Callaway County, not just Holts Summit. DBRL is planning to put a tax levy on the ballot in 2020 and would need it to pass to continue to support the new location, she added.
The Holts Summit Public Library's hours will be 3-6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. The location includes free wireless access, computers, meeting rooms and a collection shared between all DBRL branches.
Sara Henry, DBRL's Callaway County library services manager, said the Holts Summit Public Library will be run by four regular staffers in addition to her. Staffers from Fulton will also assist with library programming.
"We're really trying to just get a feel from the community of what they would like from the library," Henry said. "So, you know, what kind of materials are they looking for, what kind of services, how are they going to use the space, and kind of adapting to whatever their needs are."
Henry said the library is always looking for feedback and already has some outreach in the community. It will also try to work with area schools, she added.
Programming and activities are already planned for the new library through May, with March's calendar featuring activities like Lego building, a tea party and a lesson on animal sounds with live animals. A full list of the library's events can be found at dbrl.org.
Charles and Rose Salarano were at the library's opening with their granddaughter, Ella Dote, to check out the collection.
Dote will be attending elementary school next year and was excited to visit the new library, Rose said.
"I wish they would have had it sooner when my kids were growing up," she added.