COOS BAY — This isn't your grandmother's library.
After all, where else could a gentleman learn how to sell his bull or a woman who relocated to the area learn how to sell grave plots in Missouri on Craigslist?
"He tried to post it on his own, and something didn't go right, so he came to the class," library director Sami Pierson said. "While in the class, he posted it and got a response back during class time. It was nice to see some measured success."
Programming and classes like "Selling on Craigslist" are becoming more of the norm as the library attempts to meet the needs of its patrons.
"It's interesting because you always hear 'Libraries are becoming obsolete,' but you know they're not," Pierson said. "They're definitely changing more to what I've heard as the community's living room, to more of a social center, because, as with anything, things evolve. Change of format doesn't mean people are using the library less and in fact, they're using it more than ever."
Offering products such as e-books and DVDs and a host of different classes and programs like the aforementioned Craigslist class, the library is anything but traditional anymore, though books still constitute the primary purpose of patrons' visits.
"Programs are just another way we provide information, just in a different format," Pierson said. "It's been interesting because we've been experimenting with different things and we're finding what we thought might interest people bring in nobody. Some other things are crammed almost beyond fire code."
But that's to be expected for the library, which still remains the centralized hub to find information regardless of how "out there" or trivial the content may be.
"We get your basic 'How do you spell this?' to lots of questions about Bigfoot and 'How do I find him?'" Pierson said. "It really runs the gamut."
Pierson has even had her fair share of requests where she's learned more than she ever wanted to about certain topics that would not ever cross the average person's mind.
While some programming is hit and miss, the library is very receptive to feedback and requests so that it can give patrons what they want like the series of documentaries recently shown.
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"We had a series in January about healthy eating, and they've requested in February a series called Mindful Mondays of various awareness type programming," Pierson said. "It's nice to be able to respond fairly quickly when people request it."
As the library evolves to meet changing demand, it also has begun the process of determining what then new library will look like both in terms of structure and offerings.
Based on its needs now, the current building doesn't really fit.
"What I really hope for the new building is to see flexible space because everything is so solid in here," Pierson said. "If we have a bigger crowd, there's nowhere else to go. We can't open up another wall or we can't easily rearrange when demographics shift.
"We have a much bigger population of babies showing up when we having baby storytelling time. We can't just move the kids' room around to accommodate it easily."
With a large number of nonprofits using the meeting spaces, which Pierson estimated as half of the time, the library can't even get in to use its own space. But that and other problems should be on their way to a solution once the library chooses a firm for its needs assessment.
"We did the strategic plan which kind of set out the services, so now we're going to do the needs assessment, which sets out the space and what exactly do people want in that building," Pierson said. "We put out a request for proposal, which was due on the 15th of January, so now a committee is going through and evaluating them and we'll be interviewing potential firms for that the second week in February."
Most likely within a 6-month time frame, the hired firm will host community meetings, consult with library staff about what they want and get a feel for where Coos Bay's trends are going.
One of those is the influx of younger patrons at the library, which dispels the idea of the library becoming obsolete because as Pierson put it, "it's the next audience coming up."
"We're always going to be here for information," Pierson said. "It just a question of how that's going to look in the future."