CLINTON — The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Clinton Public Library on Monday didn’t celebrate its grand opening.

That happened 115 years ago.

To kick off National Library week, the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce presented the city landmark with a Progress Award for its continuing innovation, including its seed library, fine-free juvenile materials and maker space.

“I think a library is just essential to the growth of the community,” Chamber President Maureen Miller told Interim Library Director Jill O’Neill. Miller remembered winning a trophy as a child for reading during the summer.

City Administrator Matt Brooke said he doesn’t have much time to read, but he enjoys a good book when he can find time.

“Reading is the backbone to everything we do,” he said.

O’Neill is excited to offer juvenile material free of fines, something she has actively advocated for.

“It will reduce the barriers for children,” O’Neill said Monday.

Many people have old fines that they simply can’t pay off, O’Neill said. By not assessing fines on materials for children, the library can keep reading materials in their hands.

For library patrons who do more than read, the library has cake pans and cookie cutters that they can check out like books. The service will be helpful to people who need a pan in a specific shape one time only, O’Neill said.

Next to the cake pans and cookie cutters are several shelves of Binge Bags. Each plastic bag contains several genre-specific DVDs and a bag of microwave popcorn, perfect for family night, O’Neill said.

The seed library allows patrons to take seeds home in exchange for bringing new seeds to the library after the plants grow. O’Neill calls it Borrow, Grow, Share. Patrons can take vegetable, herb, fruit and flower seeds and enjoy what they produce for the price of returning seeds from the produce.

Growers fill out an inventory so the library knows what seeds they’ve taken, but the program will operate on the honor system, O’Neill said.

“We definitely aren’t going to hunt anyone down,” she said.

The seed program has already seen use, though “It literally came out at 9 a.m.,” O’Neill said.

On its lower level, the library has what it calls a maker space. Patrons may use the sewing machine, embroidery machine, Cricut machine or laminating machine for minimal cost.

The library is trying to grow as patrons’ needs change, O’Neill said.

“We’re just trying... to do everything we can to meet the needs of Clinton,” she said.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.