Diving into Diversity at Dover

Dover Town Library in MA is quite something, especially for a community of only 6200. It’s a pretty tree-shrouded building in a bucolic central location.  Real estate agents frequently bring prospects by as it’s such a selling point for living here. 

Even in this wealthy town, the library is well used – in these tough economic times, they are busier than ever, so they’ve stopped doing summer hours.  The lobby reminds you of those in need with a food collection table for a Natick charity amidst upholstered reading chairs and Amelia Peabody’s statues.

Once inside, the patron’s learning capacity is increased by the beneficial rays of the sun.

Some natural lighting from skylight

The grounds are lovely with picnic tables as well as reading benches –

DTL grounds with more statues

– in a courtyard just outside the children’s area where their resident bunny resides.

Library pet

Check out the subject specific grab bags for parents in a rush.

Express RA

I saw kits for the symphony, pirates, babies etc.  Great idea for busy families.  And right before you enter the kid’s area there are cafe style tables where moms, dads… can chat and have coffee.

I like the high chairs in the teen area.

Inviting YA area

And this patron-friendly DVD shelving.

Easy-to-browse media

In May, when much of MA seemed to be under water, their children’s room flooded (they closed for three weeks and vacuumed every book!) so they opportunistically rethought the whole downstairs space to make it more accommodating.  A new gaming nook will include Nintendo, Xbox, Wii…  The light ropes don’t show well in this pic, but they look really cool.  I think it’ll be in great demand when finished. 

Coming soon-technology play area

They also have wifi and 22 patron internet computers (including eight laptops) and offer guest passes for travelers, and four iPads.  They even have eight Kindles which they let people check out for speed reads.  Wow, Kindle in a library (via a $1000 Amazon gift certificate), what a concept!  And they offer computer/tech classes (they’ll even teach people how to use their new cell phones – great idea for those confused by constantly changing devices).

We spoke at length to director Cheryl Abdullah Abouelaziz and I was quite impressed by her welcoming attitude.  No stern admonitions appear here.  The patrons’ needs are paramount and coffee is encouraged.

Coffee Station

She does everything she can to avoid saying no and fortuitously, her board of trustees is very community oriented.  They really integrate the library into the town.  DTL has Sundance films once a month on a big screen TV in their meeting/program room (which is also used as an art gallery), and there’s a tea every Thursday (75 people were at the last one) – people bring food and the Friends contribute snacks too.  They have passes to ten cultural institutions and to the PawSox, the Red Sox’s minor league team.   Another great idea – why stop at collaborating with stereotypical cultural institutions?  Sports are a huge part of our culture and should be part of any well-rounded education.  And after all, as Cheryl quoted, “Libraries are the people’s college.”

The town is quite diverse and Cheryl told us they’d had a Chinese New Year celebration that attracted about 300 people and really made many residents feel welcomed and a part of the library.  They even have a Chinese language storytime.

No wonder it’s ranked 7th in the nation and 1st in MA in its population category by Hennen.  They really offer an amazing array of services.

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One Response to Diving into Diversity at Dover

  1. Pingback: These are a few of our favorite things (at public libraries) | The Librarian is In

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