Nearly every day that the Greenwood Public Library is open, residents are using the facility for more than checking out books or doing work on the computer.
College students will pop in to use a small meeting room to study or work on projects that require more space. An adult tutors a student. Parents who do not have custody of their children might have supervised visitation in one of the small meeting rooms.
Usage of small meeting rooms at the Greenwood Public Library has been up over the last year and a half, as library officials say that a lack of free or cheap meeting space available to the community has driven people to their facilities in large numbers.
“We are just meeting the need of the people coming into the library,” executive director Cheryl Dobbs said.
Usage of small group or two-person rooms went up by about 41% already this year, Dobbs said.
Those rooms are best for a small group of six to 10 people. Others are smaller, and meant for meetings between two people, she said.
Large community rooms at the library are available, although those rooms have rental agreements. Non-profits can use those rooms without charge, Dobbs said.
Just more than 1,000 people had made reservations to use the small study rooms in the first five months of 2018. About 1,461 people had reserved the space in the first five months of 2019, she said.
The library has almost always had rooms where Greenwood residents can go to conduct business or study. However, other rooms were added recently and library officials added technology to make the rooms more useful and attractive. For example, a big screen television was added with technology that allows connections that project a laptop screen on to the television, Dobbs said.
“I suppose we did it to draw people in, but we did it in response to the need of people coming in the door,” she said.
More people have been clamoring to use the rooms because of a “gig economy” where people are not going into a traditional office setting and are instead working in rooms similar to what the library is offering, Dobbs said.
“There are people who do not work in a located space,” she said.
Greenwood residents are also doing more college course work online and they are being drawn to the library to use the extra space and the technology that they do not have at home, teen librarian Emily Ellis said.
The Greenwood library is addressing a trend that is happening everywhere, with people wanting to use free services offered by the library, Dobbs said.
“Everybody is trying to scramble and address this the best that we can,” she said.