According to recent Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016, 46% of adults ages 18 and older say they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. Western Suwannee County is on its way to topping that percentage due to the excitement surrounding the grand opening of the Jo Kennon Public Library on the campus of Advent Christian Village in Dowling Park. The library reported that over 800 people visited the new building in its first two weeks following its grand opening on May 11.
Most people are familiar with a library’s general purpose: It is a building filled with books that are available to borrow by anyone with a library card. But did you know that they also have audiobooks, DVDs, computers and free educational programs?
At the Dowling Park library, there are five desktop computers visitors may use to write a letter, to build a spreadsheet, or to browse the internet. They also have 11 portable laptops that may be used within the building. A glassed-in (and soundproof) play area offers parents a place to entertain their toddlers while their older children browse the bookshelves. And to tie the technology and kids area together, the library has two touchscreen computers with pre-programmed games suitable for those from age two to 12.
Got your own computer? The library offers free public Wi-Fi. The library isn’t just about books; it is a public space to be used for a variety of purposes.
Library and Branch Manager Rhoda Odom and her two library aides, Diane Bice and Wayne Casey, are available to help answer technology questions or help you find a new author.
The Kennon Library is part of the Suwannee River Regional Library System, which keeps its calendar full of all kinds of programs. June 10, the Dowling Park library invited Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses to present a program, and 102 individuals including families with small children, adults by themselves, and curious seniors attended. June 28, a demonstration was held for children about fire safety by the fire department. Monthly, the library currently hosts Suwannee County historian Eric Musgrove, armchair travels with Dowling Park resident Don Mott (video slideshows of photos from around the globe), and an adult book club led by Rhoda. If you would like to be on an email list to receive monthly program updates, send the library a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have an idea for a program — a lecture, class or activity? The library wants to know. Do you have a suggestion for an author or subject to keep in mind when the library is ordering more books? They’d love for you to share that with them as well. Do you have books, audiobooks or DVDs you’d like to donate to the library? They’re prepared to accept your donation, as long as the items are in good condition.
Located at 10655 Dowling Park Dr. in Dowling Park, Florida, the Kennon Library’s summer hours are Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m., and Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Rhoda is hoping to enlarge her staff this summer, which will allow her to extend the Tuesday hours to begin at 9:30 and to add Saturday hours in the Fall. (Interested individuals should visit www.suwcounty.org for information.)
To contact the library, call (386) 658-2670.