By Katie Dahlstrom
Some speculate Emma Lamb Young would know her way around the Clinton Public Library if she could see it today. After all, she donated the land where the more than century-old Carnegie building sits.
But would she judge a pie-baking contest, talk about plans for the future of the building or watch children snatch free books while rock and roll played in the background?
She did Saturday. In spirit, that is.
Clinton Public Library Director Amy Birtell donned an Emma Lamb Young-inspired ensemble Saturday during the library’s annual celebration. Birtell was able to channel some inspiration and excitement for the day, although there was plenty to go around.
The Clinton Public Library’s Autumn Fest brought dozens of Clinton- area residents together Saturday in a flurry of books, games and fun.
“It has been a fantastic day,” Birtell said. “I’ve seen a lot of new faces. It’s really been a success.”
Autumn Fest brought out dedicated patrons such as Natalie and Ryan Jackson, of Clinton, who have attended story time since their oldest son, Jake, 10, was a baby.
“We love coming to the library especially for events like this. It’s free family fun and it’s a beautiful day,” Natalie said.
While Saturday brought rain, it didn’t come until after Autumn Fest ended, leaving families and residents to enjoy themselves.
Among the games, face painting and balloon animals, children and adults were invited to walk through the book maze, where they could choose on free book from a variety that had been donated to the library.
“I really like the book maze and that everyone got to take a book home. That was a nice surprise,” Natalie said.
Artist Sarah Haas performed after a presentation from residents of sustainable living community, moonCatlife, which is outside of Fulton, Ill. One Brick Shy also performed.
In addition to bringing in families who frequent the library, the fest attracted some people who haven’t explored the library’s opportunities or heard the possibilities for the future.
Architect Rob Winters, who has been working on the library’s needs assessment, along with Birtell, presented the plans for a $12 million library renovation and expansion Saturday to around 15 interested residents.
Among them Pat Outzen, of Clinton, who was pleased to see what the library could look like with enough funds.
“This is my first time seeing the plans and I’m impressed with what’s been put together. It’s something we really need,” Outzen said. “I really like the building design. They talked about how it will look when you come over the bridge and I think what’s on the outside is impressive. What’s on the inside will be even more impressive.”
Birtell explained that if Emma Lamb Young could see the library today she would know the space, but be intrigued by how the library is used. The prominent role of technology, the need for small meeting rooms and adult literacy programs all contribute to the need for an updated space, she said.
While the Autumn Fest was a chance for fun, it also was a chance for Birtell to gain some insight.
“I have talked to so many people about the library renovations and gotten feedback from them. This is just the beginning of this kind of public presentation,” Birtell said. “We want to be able to show people what the plans are so we can address the needs of the library, which are the needs of Clinton.”