Open for business

In the hours leading up to the grand reopening of the Ashland Public Library, there wasn't much left to do except wait in anticipation when the doors would reopen at 10 a.m.

Branch librarian Amy Blossom had already received a phone call at 7:30 a.m. asking what time the doors would open, and a couple greeted her outside the back door at 7:45.

She hung up the "special event" sign on the front of the library, set up a table for cider and greeted staff as they trickled in.

"This is so perfect," Children's Librarian Margie Cicerrella said.

Poet Laureate Lawson Inada was set to provide a few brief opening remarks outside before the doors open, and Ashland Police Sgt. Malcus Williams planned to read the children long-awaited stories, but the librarians chose to keep the festivities to a minimum and let the library itself take center stage.

"We just think people are going to be so glad to be in their library," Cicerrella said.

Wednesday visitors will have unprecedented access to materials, because everything the library owns is on the shelves, including items ordered just before closing that have yet to circulate. The librarians themselves were shocked about the size of the collection.

"We used to complain all the time to the person who bought our DVDs""'Why aren't you buying anything?'" Blossom said.

She estimated that up to 80 percent of the DVD collection was checked out when the libraries were open, and she expects the overflowing shelves to return to normal in a few days.

Some staff returned to work a week before opening day, and the excitement has grown as they put the building back in order.

"I expect pandemonium, I really do, because so many people have said to me 'I have to be there,'" Cicerrella said after she reenacted a young man's triumphant "Yes!" when she told him the library was reopening on Wednesday.

In addition to shelving all the new books and magazines that arrived over the summer, staff have been faced with reinstating all the little things that make the library run &

getting the computers and recycling services up and running, dusting off the shelves, decorating for Halloween, even flushing all the toilets a time or two to get the water circulating again.

The indoor plants, which volunteers took home for the summer, are back and nearly double in size.

"We can't get over how much they grew," Blossom said.

And a few things will be left to do even after the crowds go home Wednesday night.

The Internet was still "iffy," and no one can reserve books until every branch has reopened. Outreach to homebound seniors will also return in the coming weeks.

"It was more important to make sure the doors were open and the services will follow," Blossom said.

Patrons will likely only notice minor changes, such as a one-week borrowing period on DVDs, Blossom said. LSSI has already ordered a slew of new materials, which should arrive soon and will be available for checkout with the same library cards for the same three-week borrowing period. LSSI warned librarians for a rush of new library card applications, but the staff is looking forward to the rush of kids, who will be allowed in first.

"I am so looking forward to greeting the little children, to dispensing lots and lots of hugs and kisses and listening to those joyful voices again," said Children's Librarian Perii Hauschild-Owen. "I've really really missed the masses of children that come in here. They have really missed this library, and I have really missed them."

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