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story.lead_photo.caption Library-to-go lockers are accessible outside of the Holts Summit Public Library, even after hours, Callaway County Public Library Services Manager Sara Henry said. The branch has utilized the lockers, in addition to other COVID-friendly resources, to help patrons stay safe and have access to the library's materials. Proposition L, which was passed in June, will provide a budget increase for the library and allow its resources to expand more after Jan. 1. Photo by India Garrish / Fulton Sun.

The Holts Summit Public Library will begin making changes in the coming weeks after Proposition L's $540,000 budget increase kicks in Jan. 1.

Callaway County Public Library Services Manager Sara Henry said staff is excited about the 6 percent funding increase, as patrons have been looking forward to expanded hours since the Holts Summit library opened in March 2019.

"It's been two years in the making," Henry said. "It's finally come to fruition."

The proposition, passed in June, is the library's first funding increase since 1967, raising Callaway County property tax from 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 26 cents.

Over the past two years, proceeds from Retold Tales bookstore — started under the Holts Summit Community Empowerment Foundation to raise money for the library — have gone directly toward the library's operation. Retold Tales head Marty Wilson said in October the bookstore will move out of its location to make room for more business. The transition will line up with Proposition L funding starting in January.

With the transition, the larger Daniel Boone Regional Library system, which operates the Holts Summit branch, is making a few changes.

The Holts Summit Public Library will expand from 20 to 55 hours weekly and will remain open on Fridays.

Instead of hiring new staff, the current staff will have increased hours, Henry said.

Henry said the expanded hours bring mixed emotions during a time when in-person activities have been limited due to the safety of patrons.

"It's kind of odd because we're excited — we want people to come visit the library — and yet we're still right in the middle of this pandemic," she said. "There's still limitations on what we can do."

Although in-person programming looks different right now, they have still been able to provide services to the community, Henry said. They have been delivering books to homebound patrons and community centers via an outreach van, which will also be revamped under the new budget. They will also be adding another stop along the bookmobile route.

"As much as we can do contactless, that's what we're doing," Henry said.

The librarians have also held virtual programming throughout the pandemic, but they also look forward to doing in-person programs in the future.

"In this location, our programs have been a big draw, especially our family programs," Henry said. "But our librarians are itching to be able to do in-person programs again."

Online programs — like the free online tutoring and job coaching resource, Brainfuse, added in October — have been helpful for children and adults, as they adjust to remote learning and job searching, Henry said. The library also offers Wi-Fi hotspot rental.

"When schools reopened, we had a lot of parents asking, 'How do I do homeschooling or virtual learning with my kids?' So this was a way we could give them access to that," she said. "That was a big push on the library's part to give access to kids."

The branch has also used lockers so patrons can pick up materials after hours or without going into the main part of the library.

Henry said she hopes for a few additional changes with the budget increase, like expanding the library's collection and children's STEAM technology kits.

Ultimately, Henry said, the library wants to reach Callaway County at a greater capacity, in more areas.

"The main thing we're wanting right now is to be able to get out into the community more, and that's always been a goal — it's just been so heavily restricted — so that's going to be dependent on time," she said. "We just have to wait until it's safe enough to do that."

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