‘A magical space’: South Lake Tahoe library offers much more than books
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Big things are in store for the South Lake Tahoe Library.
A grant of $410,000 was awarded to the library for the Safe and Secure project and an additional $205,000 is being matched by El Dorado County.
Carolyn Brooks, the director of library services of El Dorado County told the Tribune that the State Library recognized the extreme safety and security issues in need of funding for library infrastructure improvements to make buildings safe and secure. In response, legislation assigned funding to assist communities who needed help accomplishing that goal.
“We have so many big wish items but funding is hard to find, is what’s so exciting about this grant,” Brooks said. “Given the last three years and the crises we have endured, it is vital that our library be able to open and function whether there’s power or not.”
Brooks said the $605,000 in grants will be used, among other things, to purchase a natural gas generator to ensure that there is heat, internet and lights in the event of a power outage.
Additionally, work will be done on the IT infrastructure including the broadband, which will be updated for faster speed. Outdoor security cameras will also be installed.
“There will be no tampering on our watch,” Brooks said, and added that with the library serving as a polling place as well as a place where children frequent, security is top priority.
A glass barrier will be introduced to separate the children’s section from the remainder of the building.
Brooks added that the glass wall will provide noise abatement as well as security so children can’t dart out the front door and the rest of the building can remain unaffected by the nursery rhymes, singing, and giggles coming from behind it.
“Libraries are more than just books. We are the piece to navigating our community members to resources, especially during difficult times,“ Brooks said, and added that staff and community outreach are their main purpose.
She said, “When you walk in the doors you don’t have to have any hesitation about asking for assistance because that’s why we’re there and what we are going to do.”
The library provides extensive resources, including, but not limited to, books and DVDs, online materials such as audio books and online books, board games, as well as online apps which allow you to take classes. Classes include physical education, dancing, photography, GED/high school diploma, how to run a business, computer languages and job skills. There are also curated kits for children’s story time and kits for families of loved ones with dementia/alzheimers.
Brooks said, “If you can figure out how to ask us a question we can figure out how to help you.”
Local resident and mom Alicia Phillips said, “I love that they have all the books, the events, the play area, and the other families. Letting the kids interact is amazing.”
After attending Mother Goose on the Loose, mother Allie Zilinek said about the library, “It’s a magical space.”
Zilinek told the Tribune she was surprised about the connection questionnaire provided and the extensive resources the library promotes.
Brooks said she has been a part of the library staff since 2007, save for a brief 18 month stint at the State Library, during which time she was introduced to numerous available grant proposals.
Starting as a youth services librarian at El Dorado Hills Library, Brooks worked here way up through the ranks to become the library director for all of El Dorado County just before the pandemic.
Although retirement is right around the corner for Brooks, her 16 years of service will not be ending any time soon. She said she will continue to write grants.
On Tuesday during the Board of Supervisors meeting Brooks received a proclamation to acknowledge her years of dedicated service.
Brooks will also continue to lead the Hub mentorship program to help other counties to be the hub of resources for their communities.
El Dorado Community Hubs support people of all ages by connecting them to resources and services such as free food, utility discounts, and health insurance.
Individuals seeking resources can contact Anel Peterson, Hub Navigator or Mirelle Zamudio, Community Health Advocate at the South Lake Tahoe branch located at 1000 Rufus Allen Blvd.
In addition to Hub services Peterson specializes in early literacy and hosts story time and Zamudio helps to connect individuals and families to resources or services for a variety of needs.
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