Readers' Heaven

Payson Public Library expands services to young and old

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Faster Internet access and more state-of-the art computers have card holders flocking to the Payson Public Library.

The 13 new computers allow members of the library to have complete Internet access including e-mail, web mail and instant messaging at their fingertips.

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Rebecca Station, 9, and Jessica Station, 7, say they enjoy spending some of their free time reading books in the children's section of the library.

"The computers are always, busy, busy," library director Terry Morris said.

The popularity of the computers has Morris mulling over trying to acquire even more through a Bill Gates grant project.

The technological advances began last year when nine computers were purchased to be used for upgrading the card catalog system. The new system allows members to access the library's entire collection from their home computers.

Today, the library is far different than it was in 1921 when the Payson Womans Club organized a charter membership of 32 women.

At the first meeting of the Womans Club, the seeds of the modern-day library were sown when the members banded together to create a small library for the mountain community.

In the more than 80 years since that first library opened, it has grown to offer a myriad of services, including computer use, to about 14,000 Rim country card-carrying residents.

Inside the 15,765-square-foot building located in Rumsey Park is a collection of books that are available "to educate, inform, enrich, entertain and inspire," according to the library's mission statement.

Also inside are numerous casual seating and reading areas where patrons can find just the right spot to kick back and relax with a good book.

The library also features separate reading areas for children, teens and seniors.

In the children's room, a story time is held at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday.

Although the stories are geared toward children 3 to 6 years old, all children and their parents are welcome to attend.

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With 13 new computers in place, the library has become a source for state-of-the-art Internet research.

The library also hosts other children's events, such as the "Cat In The Hat" celebration held each March in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday.

"It's fun, but that's just one of the events we have," Morris said.

Other youth events the library hosts include the Read Across America summer program, national Library Week, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Tiny Tots Christmas and a series Young Authors programs.

Library Friends

One reason the library has grown into a success is the presence of Library Friends, a private, nonprofit organization that played a huge role in getting the new library built about four years ago.

For about 15 years prior to the library being built, Library Friends raised money to provide the funding to furnish the inside of the library.

The grassroots organization continues to serve as a type of booster club for the library, purchasing equipment and providing funding for programs that cannot be purchased in town and county budgets.

Last year, the library's new $23,000 security system was purchased by Library Friends. The digital system uses motion sensors to provide internal and external surveillance.

Library Friends also sponsor a General Education Diploma (GED) program for 12- to 17-year-olds who have dropped out of school. The program allows the teens to fulfill graduation requirements and obtain a diploma. Inside the library, more than 100 volunteers work to help make the Payson branch the best it can be.

Library Friends operates a book store that offers hardcover and paperback books at discounted prices.

Paperback books are 25 cents each. Hardcovers published from 2001 to 2005 are $3. Those published from 1996 to 2000 are $2 Those published prior to 1996 are $1. Compact discs, cassettes and video tapes also are available for purchase.

To become a member of Library Friends, call the library at (928) 474-9260.

Library hours

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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