GI Library has 2020 Vision to be Lifelong Learning Center


Diverse, blue collar, and growing -- Grand Island faces challenges with a unique population. So it may surprise you what community institution is well-poised to be at the center of things.

The Grand Island Public Library is something busy moms like Melissa Vodehnal can count on, as she enjoys story time in "Bookingham Palace."

"I like all the programs they have, the opportunities for kids and the adult stuff, I've done some of that over the summer," she said.

The library has a great reputation, better than city services as a whole, according to a 2011 survey.

Grand Island has fewer college educated adults than its tri-cities neighbors, along with more poor and minority families.

So Library Director Steve Fosselman believes the library has an important role to play.

"Books are so important and reading is extremely important," he said. "We've decided we want to be a place where every child can learn to get ready to read."

That includes the 40 percent of kids who are Hispanic or Latino.

Fosselman said, "Children's services are bilingual now and we'll keep providing services like that, so we are responding to an increasingly diverse community, and doing it knowing that people appreciate the services we have."

The recently released "GILIBRARY 2020" casts the vision for the future and suggests a central library, as nice as it is, may not be enough. So bookmobiles or new locations could be in the future mix.

Fosselman said, "There are areas where transportation is an issue. We'll be taking a look at how the library could spread out into those sections, whether it's a branch or other services we provide."

The library already has what it calls a second branch -- its website.

"The library doesn't need to be open for you to use your library card," Fosselman said.

So in addition to library traditions like the summer reading program for kids, they expand with digital downloads and computer labs, with a vision to truly be a community center.

Fosselman said, "We're the most democratic part of our community in those terms. Everybody's welcome to get a library card, if you're a Grand Island resident, for free and you get so many treasurers awaiting you."

The library sees itself as a place for cultural and financial literacy as well, whether that's an immigrant working towards citizenship or someone looking for a job, they hope to have resources, including plenty of books.

The GILIBRARY 2020 report is online, and was formed with input from patrons and the Library Board.