Grandview Library boosts programming for students, community
Big things are happening at Grandview Library. From more community programming to an expansion of culturally-relevant materials to an emphasis on fostering a welcoming environment, staff have taken on multiple efforts to make the library a hub of community activity. Yakima Valley College students are among those reaping the benefits.
When Wendy Poteet took over as director of the library, jointly operated by the city of Grandview and YVC, one of her first tasks was a review of its collection. While 89% of community members in the library’s service area were of Hispanic backgrounds, only 3% of the materials were Spanish-language.
“It’s important for a library and its collection to reflect its community,” Poteet said. “I knew we needed to address that.”
Knowing that Spanish materials are more expensive than English materials due to a lack of U.S. publishers producing Spanish-language materials, Poteet set about finding ways to stretch the library’s budget.
She successfully applied for grants from Legends Casino and Wal-Mart, received additional budget from the Grandview City Council and its American Rescue Plan Act funds, and held a couple fundraisers in partnership with Barnes & Noble.
“We’re happy to see more people coming to the library and have Grandview Library be a place of vibrancy and a place that helps strengthen our community.” — Wendy Poteet, Grandview Library director
With that infusion of additional funds, the library has been able to double its book buying over the past year and purchase not only more Spanish-language materials, but also add to its collection of Indigenous and LGBTQ-related titles.
“The library collection is daily becoming closer to reflecting our community,” Poteet said. “So much of our community has had an issue not being able to read books that reflect them and their community. We’re focused on adding titles so that all of our community members can see themselves in positive roles.”
While progress has been made, Poteet said the library will continue its efforts to build up the collection.
Over the past year, the library also has worked to make sure YVC students at the Grandview Campus know they are welcome to come in and make use of the library spaces and resources available to support their studies. Poteet said it’s driven by a shift from seeing libraries as “quiet” spaces to places of vibrancy.
“Especially when it comes to college and high school students, they can be with friends talking and studying and it’s OK if they get excited or are working on a group project,” she said.
Since the beginning of 2023, Poteet and her staff have watched an uptick of students coming into Grandview Library to study and ask staff for research assistance.
“Our study rooms and study cubbies are constantly filled because we see more students in here, including some who are coming in every day,” Poteet said.
In addition, students and community members alike have benefitted for more programming being offered by the library.
“Wellness Wednesdays,” for example, offer resources and space for managing stress.
The library also led a summer reading campaign with activities for readers of all ages, with more than 250 reading packets handed out. Prizes such as books and clay modeling kits were awarded as people made progress in their reading, with the grand prize for adult participants being signed copies of Patricia Briggs’ “Mercyverse” urban fantasy series set in the Tri-Cities area.
“The kids who participated, it was so exciting to see their excitement,” Poteet said. “They were so voracious in reading our books and we saw them jumping in their reading abilities over the course of the summer.”
Joining a long-standing toddler story time program, the library also has recently started a book club for adults, a monthly non-fiction book club for all ages, an adult craft night and a family night with various activities.
Since November 2022, when Poteet joined the staff, Grandview Library has seen a 13% increase in patrons checking out materials.
“We’re happy to see more people coming to the library and have Grandview Library be a place of vibrancy and a place that helps strengthen our community,” Poteet said. “It’s something to build on.”