Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Library Branch Notches 1 Million Users

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Library Branch Notches 1 Million Users

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND & MARY MARAGHY

An eyesore-turned-library recently celebrated a milestone -- its 1 millionth customer.

The old Kmart building at 3435 University Blvd. N. found new life in October 2004 as the University Park branch library. The remodeled facility quickly became a community hub providing free meeting space for nonprofits, government organizations and community, civic and homeowner groups, branch manager Michael Rouse said.

"It's a rather new library, and this community has supported us so well," Rouse said.

The recent 1-millionth customer celebration was a way of thanking loyal patrons such as Anjill Herron of Arlington, Rouse said. When Herron walked through the double doors with her son, Kaleb, the librarians greeted her with a thank-you banner and a gift basket filled with snacks, a $25 Publix gift certificate and a Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library membership. Herron goes to the branch a couple of times a week to check out books by such favorite authors as Omar Tyree.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, Rouse said 227,000 customers checked out almost 375,000 materials. He said the library has customers of all ages, ethnicities and economic levels.

Its teen and children's programs have been big hits, while many users seek its free computer access, Rouse said. From 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, the Friends of the Library stage a book sale in what was once Kmart's garden center, with most hardbacks going for $2.

More good news:

-- Thirty-nine World War II veterans are taking an all-expense-paid trip to Washington today to see the World War II Memorial, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Orange Park Sunrise. The club created a nonprofit program, supported by community donations, to honor a dwindling breed of service personnel. More than 300 veterans from North Florida and Georgia have traveled to the nation's capital as part of the two-year-old program. For more information, visit www. …

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