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Lynchburg Public Library's downtown branch reopens

After being closed since March 2020 because of COVID-19 and then construction at Lynchburg City Hall, the doors of the Lynchburg Public Library’s downtown branch once again are open wide.

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Peter Hodges points at an object while playing a computer game with his sister, Claire, in the downtown branch of the Lynchburg Public Library located in the bottom of City Hall.

“We were closed a little longer than we would have liked because of the construction process, then we had to hire staff again. This was just the right time. We wanted to do it within this fiscal year,” Library Director Beverly Blair said.

The library, located on the ground floor of city hall at 900 Church St., experienced some physical changes during construction — one of the biggest being there now is a ceiling where it once was open.

Deborah Trefzger visited the library before its closing. At Tuesday’s reopening, she noticed the space felt different.

“It seems more open and inviting. The old one seemed rather dark and closed in,” Trefzger said.

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Cora Mickle browses books in the downtown branch of the Lynchburg Public Library located in the bottom of City Hall during its grand reopening Tuesday.

Internal changes also have been made within the library. Patrons can enjoy new programs and an updated book collection.

“The collection needed a lot of updating,” Blair said. “It was outdated. We have way more youth and teen materials, more graphic novels, more manga, more anime. We’re doing more children’s programs and just more programs in general to try to get folks to come back. We’re trying to do different things than have been done in the past.”

The programs include a family story time and adult crafts, both of which will be monthly series.

The updated book collection is an effort to lure in a younger crowd. Blair and Library Branch Manager Tracy Letzerich know Lynchburg is attracting more young people, and the downtown library is looking to adapt to that, whether it be through the book selection or book clubs.

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Elliot Spontarelli reads a new book in the downtown branch of the Lynchburg Public Library on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of college-aged people that are moving in. We’re trying to get a lot of the 20-somethings in. We’ll do this mostly through the books. We also have a book club we’re starting. It’s called Hill City Lit, and then we’ll have another one that we’ll be starting in the next few months to bring some people in,” Letzerich said.

Restoration and rejuvenation of the downtown area is something the library wants to play a role in. Library staffers will be at events such as Get Downtown and Hill City PrideFest to meet Lynchburg residents.

Past patrons may notice some changes. The downtown branch is adjusting and working to serve the people of Lynchburg, and will stick with its overall purpose of providing a place for work and play for everyone.

“We want to give people a safe space to come in and do what they need to accomplish,” Blair said. “That might be looking for a job. That might be needing Wi-Fi or internet access. That might be a place to come with their child and read a book or use a computer with their child. We want to be that space to meet the needs that the people have.”

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Sticky notes with handwritten messages saying what people love about the library are stuck to a board in the downtown branch of the Lynchburg Public Library located in the bottom of City Hall during its reopening on Tuesday.

“We’re doing more children’s programs and just more programs in general to try to get folks to come back. We’re trying to do different things than have been done in the past.”

Beverly Blair, library director

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