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ALTON - Whatever you need, the Hayner Public Library District might have it. From books to baking equipment to fishing supplies and so much more, it’s available at Hayner. The library has grown a lot in recent years, and the board is looking forward to another great year in 2024.

“I just want to thank all of our patrons for coming in every day and supporting the library. Over the years, we’ve made a lot of friends,” said Director Mary Cordes. “We have our regulars who come all the time, but it’s really exciting when somebody walks through the door who’s never been here before and says, ‘I didn’t know you guys had all this.’ That kind of makes it worthwhile and we hope that every day we get more people that come in and say that.”

Hayner Library has several books, movies, audiobooks and other traditional library materials available, but they also recently added a Library of Things so patrons can check out items instead of purchasing them. They regularly have activities for teenagers and kids of all ages, and they have several museum displays available at their Genealogy & Local History Library at 401 State Street in Alton.

This variety is important to Cordes and the board, who all believe that the library should be a place of community and service. They aim to reach more community members and share information about the programs they offer so that people know about the resources available to them.

“We’re there for the people,” said Kevin Botterbush, the board president. “We’re really trying to get information out to the people in different environments. It’s very important that we’re here for the people in the community. That’s why this library was created.”

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The library has several programs in place to meet this goal. For example, the homebound program delivers books directly to hospitals, nursing homes and households in the community for residents who can’t get out to the library. Hayner also hosts regular Foster Township pop-up library days to reach some of the district’s residents who live farther away from the library’s locations in Alton.

There are many online resources available as well, from ebooks to databases. The library also has 20 laptops that can be checked out. Whatever the community’s needs are, the library tries to meet them.

“I still use so many of the resources in my professional and personal life. We have a lot of online resources that I think people might not know about,” said Amber Sims, a teacher and the board’s secretary. “I believe that reading and literacy — this is the teacher in me — is so very important, and the library seeks to find ways that are engaging for young kids.”

The library holds many events that aim to engage older community members as well.. On Feb. 17, 2024, they will be displaying a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to an Alton resident in the 1800s. The letter is usually in the library’s safe deposit box, but they decided “it belongs to the people of the district and we want everybody to be able to see it,” Cordes explained. More information about this event will be shared soon.

Looking forward, the board hopes to do more in the community and find additional ways to serve the residents in the district. Botterbush said the board has been talking about long-range planning, and they are excited to make these decisions over the next few years to help the Hayner Public Library District grow.

“What you see today is something that has been accumulated over 30 years,” he added. “And now we need to step back, we need to look at this. Our community has changed. Our community has grown. Are all of our facilities in the right location? Is everybody in the community being served the way they should? We’re looking at that now to try and make those decisions. What do we need to do in the future? I don’t know what those decisions will be, but we will be involving the community in those decisions.”

For more information about programming, services and upcoming events at the library, visit HaynerLibrary.org.

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