Milling­ton opens new read­ing room

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­[email protected]­coun­tynews.com

MILLING­TON — Two-year-old Liam East­man crawled up on a tod­dler-sized bench and opened a book Satur­day morn­ing, seated be­tween his grand­mother Shelly Hol­land and library pa­tron Jill Starkey.

Liam was the first cus­tomer for Milling­ton’s com­mu­nity read­ing room, which of­fi­cially opened to the pub­lic with a 9 a.m. rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony.

There are shelves and shelves of books and four com­put­ers, avail­able to the pub­lic at no cost.

But the “library,” what was pre­vi­ously a stor­age room in town hall, is not a branch of the Kent County Pub­lic Library. There is no paid staff and the pol­icy about lend­ing out books is very gen­er­ous. Re­turn­ing books is good, shar­ing them with other read­ers is prob­a­bly even bet­ter.

“You don’t have to bring books back, just keep pass­ing them on,” said Town Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jo Man­ning.

She said cur­rently there are more books — for chil­dren, young adult and grownup read­ers, plus col­lege text­books and re­search books — than there is room.

Starkey, whose 6-year-old son Thorn likes to read, a lot, do­nated two cases of chil­dren’s books and said she has enough books for a third case.

“I buy books so much,” said Starkey, who also is a day­care provider in Milling­ton. “In­stead of the books just sit­ting around af­ter they have been read, I de­cided to do­nate them. Any­thing to get our lit­tle library go­ing,” she said.

Thorn Starkey cut the cer­e­mo­nial rib­bon Satur­day. Mayor C.J. Mo­rales and all four coun­cil mem­bers, in­clud­ing Thorn’s fa­ther Wayne Starkey and Liam’s

grand­mother, at­tended.

Jackie Adams, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Kent County Pub­lic Library, and Joe Hard­ing, pres­i­dent of the library board, also were there to hold the rib­bon.

Adams said Milling­ton’s com­mu­nity read­ing room is part of the KCPL’s out­reach pro­gram. She cred­ited Man­ning with mak­ing it hap­pen.

“Jo was the real im­pe­tus,” Adams said.

The tim­ing was ideal as the KCPL was mak­ing up­grades to its Chestertown main branch. Car­pet­ing, fur­nish­ings, book­shelves and com­put­ers were re­pur­posed for a new home in Milling­ton.

Vol­un­teers and town staff — Man­ning, ClerkTrea­surer Mag­gie Pat­ter­son and main­te­nance man Jim Bax­ter — trans­formed the un­used stor­age space into what ap­pears to be a library in all the ways that mat­ter.

Cam­bio WiFi in­stalled the equip­ment and set up in­ter­net ac­cess at no cost. The read­ing room is a “hotspot,” which means stu­dents who need

the in­ter­net to do their home­work and adults seek­ing em­ploy­ment or up­dat­ing their ré­sumé can do so free of charge.

Man­ning said she ex­pects it to be a hap­pen­ing place dur­ing sum­mer va­ca­tion and any time stu­dents have a day off from school.

Cur­rently the read­ing room is open only when the town hall is open: 8 a.m. to noon on Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and Fri­days and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tues­days and Thurs­days.

Man­ning said hours could be ex­panded, with Satur­days as an op­tion, if she can en­list vol­un­teers to help.

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

Liam East­man, 2, of Up­per Marl­boro is the first pa­tron of the library room in Milling­ton’s town hall. Also pic­tured are Jill Starkey, left, who do­nated books, and Liam’s grand­mother Shelly Hol­land, a mem­ber of the Milling­ton town coun­cil.

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