Winfield Library: 30 Years of Supporting Winfield
2019 is the 30th Anniversary of the opening of the Winfield Library Branch. Although Winfield Township has had borrowing privileges from the Crown Point Library since 1923, through a contractual tax levy, the township didn’t officially merge with the Crown Point Library until 1982. At that time, the name became the Crown Point Community Library. Services were extended to the area, especially children’s services, and those in Winfield Township took advantage of them. It became apparent several years later that the need and desire for an extension branch were warranted. In September 1988, a petition was presented to the library board for the creation of Winfield Library.
Things moved quickly from the initial petition. The following month a lease was signed in the Lake of the Four Seasons shopping center and plans for the branch layout were developed. Library assistant Cheryl Landske was appointed as Winfield coordinator to organize the new branch. All that hard, fast work paid off when the Winfield Library opened on January 16, 1989. Operating 17 hours per week, the Winfield Library was organized differently from the Crown Point Library. Instead of a traditional, Dewey decimal organizational system, it was more like a bookstore, a “browsing library,” where one could wander the shelves by subject. The approach worked for the smaller location, with its 2000 books filling 676 square feet. A new branch coordinator, Diane Keeney, was hired in March 1989; she implemented new and expanded programs for both children and adults.
The popularity of the Winfield Library was so great that it outgrew its initial space in 3 years! Moving to another, larger space in the same shopping center, the Winfield Branch doubled its space, as well as increased its circulation and programs with a new program room. Again, recognizing the needs of the community, the operating hours were increased in 1994 to 48 hours per week. By this time, Winfield was incorporated as a town on August 31, 1993, and in need of a government center. The town and library agreed to a new combined space to be built on Randolph Avenue, making both more visible and accessible to the growing community. After 2 years of building and planning, the Winfield Library opened at its new location, again almost doubling its space. In addition to the larger space, the library increased its services – magazines, free coffee, and a computerized catalog system which linked both the Crown Point and Winfield branch libraries. Renovations in 2000-01 of the Winfield Branch changed it from a browsing library to a more traditional library setting using the Dewey organizational system. It also brought about the beloved boat in the children’s section, the S.S. Winfield.
As Winfield the town and Winfield the library grew over the next decades, it became necessary to consider a new space for the library. Circulation was strong, interest in programs was beyond capacity, and basically, the library had grown too big for its space. Without wanting to move too far from the current location, exploration of available space began in the spring of 2015. Longtime Winfield Coordinator Diane Keeney retired in August 2015, and current Coordinator Brenda Thompson started the following month. Thompson was instrumental in the creation of the newest Winfield Library branch. Leasing and construction of the new space on Randolph Avenue, in the shopping center behind the government center location, coincided with Thompson’s arrival. The new space, again more than double the old, was gutted and designed to accommodate the needs of the community with a large meeting room, computer lab, children and teen space, as well as a social area to sit with a cup of coffee and read a book. The new and improved library opened in October 2016, and has been an asset to the community in many ways through its increased collection and programming.
What started as a small storefront of just over 600 square feet for a community with the same population, has grown to a full service library at 6000 square feet, again matching the population of the community. Through its programs and collection, the Winfield Library continues to be a necessary and impactful foundation to the community – not just for Winfield, but for the entire Crown Point Community Library service area.