On January 6 the Carmel Clay Public Library (CCPL) Joyce Winner West Branch opened in the Village of WestClay. The 5,000 square feet of space is configured to offer a variety of services for patrons of all ages. The facility is the result of much planning, research and input from focus groups, and has quickly become a favorite destination for many.
“We kept hearing from the western part of Clay Township that it was difficult to get to the Carmel Clay Public Library,” says Christy Walker, CCPL communications manager. “We decided to concentrate on the west part of our service area and build a branch there. The new branch is named for the late Village of WestClay resident Joyce Winner. She was a member of the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation. She fell in love with the library and became a huge promoter of literacy and reading. Upon her passing, her husband Jim Winner gave the Library Foundation a significant gift.”
West Branch Manager Katherine Huddle adds that Winner would likely have been delighted to see the amenities at the new facility.
“This would have been her branch,” Huddle says. “Opening day was like Black Friday at Target. Within hours 1,300 books flew off the shelves.”
The branch has many unique features and a lot of character. The windows of the conservatory room allow light to flood in. During the cold months, patrons can sit by a fireplace and sip coffee while reading. While the conservatory is designated as a quiet space, there are two mezzanine spaces with open seating that are often used by pupils and tutors during after-school hours.
“There is a children’s area and teens have their own dedicated space,” Huddle says. “Right now the meeting room is open on a first-come, first-served basis. In the back of the building there is a 24-hour, drive-up book return. All materials that come from the main library can be returned to the branch. Materials can be ordered from the main library on the website and then be picked up at the branch.”
A conveyer belt moves books around at the branch and can be viewed behind a glass panel. The library’s wallpaper, flooring and upholstery all contain hidden words and letters.
“The CCPL partnered with The Great American Read program sponsored by the Public Broadcasting Service,” Walker says. “Carmel readers voted ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck as their all-time favorite book. The chandelier in the west branch honors the book by consisting of pages from it. They can be changed out in the future.”
Huddle says the local response to the branch has been encouraging so far.
“There is a lot of multigenerational use and we are seeing people come in on a weekly basis,” she says. “I was thrilled to hear a little girl say to her grandmother, ‘Can we stay as long as we want?’ If anyone is skeptical or has a concern with the future of libraries, I can say the library is alive and well. It continues to house collections of books people want, and it’s a community hub that offers connections that people crave.”
The Carmel Clay Public Library Joyce Winner West Branch is located at 12770 Horseferry Road in the Village of WestClay. For more info, call 317-814-3965 and visit carmel.lib.in.us.