Thanks to the Mountaintop Public Library's librarian, Ivonne Martinez, who has been working there since 2008, the library's attendance has more than doubled, and its circulation has more than tripled.
However, as the library's patronage grows, the building, a diminutive structure comprised of two small prefabricated buildings, seems to shrink.
"When I was hired, our numbers were relatively low," Martinez said, "So, I started buying new books. Then more and more people started coming.
The Inter-Mountain Photo by Joe Hoover
Ivonne Martinez, Mountaintop Library’s librarian, stands in the children’s area, her favorite section of the library. Martinez is working to raise money for a new, larger library building. She will use some of the extra space to provide the community’s children with a larger selection of books.
"But, now we are out of room. We need more space."
One of the problems caused by the space limitation is the severe restriction on the catalog size.
"I'd like to have a larger selection of current material, but I am very limited by space," Martinez said. "If a book is not being taken out, we usually have to sell it or give it away so that we can get new books."
While slowly purging forgotten tomes from dusty shelves is a practice used by most libraries, Mountaintop's size makes maintaining a rich, reliable catalog more difficult than it might be if more space was available.
Martinez also said the space limitations place an unfortunate restriction on the library's selection of children's literature.
"I believe children's lit is timeless. There are a lot of books I would like to have for our children, but I just don't have room."
This is particularly unfortunate, because the library maintains a close working relationship with the adjacent Davis Thomas Elementary Middle School and because it draws a large number of children from the community. In fact, 20 percent of the library's patrons are children.
"We have kids come practically every day," Martinez said. "They read, check out books and even check their email. But, we can only fit so many."
Yet another setback caused by the library's size is the difficulty of facilitating an adult- and child-friendly atmosphere.
When there are a lot of kids in the building it can sometimes get loud, and the noise tends to bother adults who might be trying to read or work on one of the computers, Martinez said.
"After the economic downturn, we saw our Internet usage increase considerably. A lot of people now come here to check their email, search for jobs, fill out applications and write resumes. But, kids are going to be kids; it is their library, too. It is here for everyone. If we had a larger building, we could have an adult section and a children's section. I think everyone would be happier," she said.
Of course, there is still a lot of preparatory work that needs to be done before the dream of a new, larger library can be realized. Right now, Martinez said the library is organizing a feasibility study to gauge the community's needs.
"I believe that if people want to build a new library, then it will happen. But, if they don't want it, we won't build it. We need to know the community wants it," she said.
Martinez also said she, the Board of Directors and the library's friends group have been raising money for the new building for 14 months.
"Right now, our goal is between $100,000 and $150,000," she said. "We have made good progress, but we still have a long way to go."
Most recently, the library hosted a silent auction that raised more than $6,500 through ticket sales, bids and donations.
Martinez said the library also hosts an annual Memorial Day fundraiser, various raffles and other events.
"We also have a very active Run For It group, which usually attracts about 40 participants," she said.
"Our community is relatively small, so it can be difficult to raise large sums of money," Martinez added. "However, we are making progress. It is a community effort. It is a labor of love."
Anyone who would like information about donating to the Mountaintop Library can contact Martinez at 304-463-4582.