Cone Park library celebrates its first year

A birthday cake sits on a table during the Cone Park Library birthday celebration on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Gainesville, Fla. The celebration was held to commemorate the branch's first birthday.

Matt Benson / Correspondent
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 6:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 6:38 p.m.

For a first birthday, Saturday's shindig at Cone Park was quite a celebration, with a magician performing head-scratching tricks, a DJ spinning tracks, honey for the tasting and a lounging stuffed bobcat that looked as if were an oversized pet cat stretching in the sun.

And the diversity was fitting considering that the birthday honoree was the Cone Branch of the Alachua County Library at Cone Park, 2841 E. University Ave., a place at which thousands of people a month come to learn about magic, music, beekeeping, taxidermy and a universe of other subjects.

"It's very convenient. It saves a lot of time. My kids like to come here, and they can do their homework here," said Cassandra Wims, who lives in east Gainesville. "Before this, we had to go downtown, and sometimes we didn't have the money to catch the bus."

The library opened in a temporary portable building adjacent to the Cone Park community center in November 2011. Branch manager Heather Sostrom said that the library drew 3,311 patrons the first month, a number that has climbed to almost 10,000 monthly.

Sostrom said that makes Cone Park the leader among branch libraries of its size in the county, though the number of checked-out materials trails some of the others.

"People are coming in the library and utilizing the resources we offer, but not necessarily checking out materials, which we are trying to push," Sostrom said. "We are increasing all the time, and I think our biggest challenge is just letting people know we are here."

The Cone library has books, audio books, magazines, movies, music CDs, computers and other resources and services.

Patrons say that having a library so close to their home makes them more likely to use a library.

"I enjoy coming, and I have a 12-year-old daughter who lives for coming," LaTica Williams said. "We stay right across the street, so it's great for us. We can come right over and get books and movies."

Saturday's party included entertainment and educational programs. Various community groups and agencies had booths, including free bicycle helmets from the city's bike and pedestrian program, a display of taxidermied animals from the city's parks and cultural affairs division, a display of jobs and employment resources from Florida Works, and others.

Future celebrations will likely occur before the permanent Cone branch is fully built. Construction is expected to start in early 2013, with completion expected by the end of next year.

Sostrom said the 10,000-square-foot building will be in front of the track at Cone Park.

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