The Woodstock Public Library celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016, and that milestone became a theme for the library’s activities throughout the year.
The public library in Woodstock opened March 23, 1891, occupying two rooms in what is now the Woodstock Opera House, then known as City Hall. At the time it opened, the library had just over 1,000 books on its shelves, and the city’s population was 1,893. Today, the library holdings include approximately 160,000 items, including digital and print media, just over 127,000 of which are books.
The effort to incorporate history into this year’s library programs started when the library redesigned its logo in January, including the words “Discover, Connect, Inspire.” Library staff wanted to embody the “discover” part of that motto by planning activities to attract members of the community who could see what the library has to offer.
The capstone of the year’s celebrations was a birthday party for the library March 23 with cake, ice cream, a raffle and other activities. Staff joined in the fun by dressing in 1890s fashions. Nick Weber, library director, said that, during the event, the first floor of the library was busier than he had ever seen it. The attendees included the mayor, city manager and a county board member. Officials from all over the state sent congratulatory notes, as did several other library directors.
“The party itself was probably the most fun, in terms of the amount of support and enthusiasm everyone had for the library,” Weber said. “It was really nice to see that level of participation.”
The library’s summer reading program for children celebrated the anniversary with a “Paging Through Time” theme. Each week, kids learned about a different decade; there was a future focus as well, when the children were asked to think about what the world — and the library — might be like in another 125 years. Children were offered toys from each decade, and they were thoroughly perplexed by earlier toys, such as jacks and the Victorian-era hoop-and-stick toy.
The annual Mini Links event this year also had a historical focus. For the past eight years, library staff have created an 18-hole mini-golf course running throughout the library on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. This year, several of the holes had a historical theme. For the past three years, Mini Links has included an after-hours opening on Friday for adults only, when the Woodstock Public House caters hors d’oeuvres and participants can enjoy beer and wine, a raffle and other activities while playing minigolf.
New activities this year included a selfie scavenger hunt in the fall, which provided clues around the city, many with a historical focus, and a trivia contest in February. The trivia contest had several history questions. The teams were a diverse mixture of young and old, and the trivia contest was so successful the library plans a repeat event in the fall of 2017.
The library has honored Woodstock’s rich history this year. Weber said that the library is planning to be here for another 125 years and welcomes any suggestions residents have for the next century and beyond.