ROYAL CENTER — The town’s public library is getting a new director — and a huge transformation — as it approaches its 100th birthday.
The library recently overhauled its hours and began scheduling weekly and monthly events taking place in its downstairs community room under the auspices of library director Julie Diesman, who succeeded Phyllis Gray upon her retirement at the end of March.
Beyond that, the library is transitioning to an online catalog system and culling outdated or little-used volumes from its 30,000-book collection.
Board members of the library thought the 99-year-old Carnegie library could serve Royal Center better by being open more and adding the programming and computer labs, according to board president Kyle Rans.
“We’re going to miss Phyllis, but we’re also looking forward to the next chapter and doing some new things,” Rans said.
Much of the library’s heritage is still visible in the building, where the original walnut library counter remains in use in the center of the small library’s foyer.
“From the woodwork to the plumbing, it’s in its original state,” Diesman said about the library building.
She said she loved the extensive woodwork in the building — most of which has never been painted. It’s one of the first things she noticed when she interviewed for the position.
Diesman had spent the last five years as director of library services for Ivy Tech-Kokomo region and had about 17 years of experience with Indiana University-Kokomo, where she directed the career services office.
But lack of remodeling presents challenges, too.
Among them? The building is inaccessible to patrons who use wheelchairs, Diesman said. And there’s little space inside for books — and even less for sitting.
Currently, adult and children’s books each take about half of the closely packed shelving units. DVD spindles flank the entrance in the foyer.