Blanchard Public Library
An estimated 1,500 Blanchard residents lined the streets Wednesday morning, their human chain physically connecting part of their growing city’s past to its future.
They passed books – one person to the next, one book at a time, from the Blanchard Public Library’s longtime building on Main Street about a half-mile north to its new facility at 205 NE 10th St. The new building will open its doors May 24.
The line of people ranged in age from stroller-riding babies just a few months old to some nearly 90 years old, and they passed about 250 children’s books down the line. They’ll be among the first books to go on the shelves at the new library.
Many of the participants were students who walked a couple of blocks south from the nearby Blanchard Elementary School. Middle-schoolers also made their way to the line, as did hundreds of interested local residents with strollers, lawn chairs and umbrellas that got to stay put away, as the threatening clouds kept the sun off but also held off on dropping any rain.
The event was done in honor of a similar human chain in 1993, when the library moved from a building on south Main Street to its home for the past 17 years, the former United Methodist Church at 300 N. Main St.
The first book was passed out the door of that building at 9:30 a.m. It wasn’t long before the line north up Main Street was filled with colorful children’s books being passed hand-to-hand.
“Faster, faster!” urged a group of third-grade girls, as the books began to reach their part of the line.
“Just pass it,” one girl said to the boy next to her. “You can read it later.”
“We like the library, we go read books and stuff,” said 7-year-old Hunter Ellis, who with some classmates manned an area about halfway down the line.
“It’s fun,” added his buddy, 7-year-old Stace Stefanatos. “I like to play on the computers, check out books and movies. I’m excited about having a new library.”
Further down the line, 7th-graders Sierra Bailey and Colton Graves enjoyed being outside, and didn’t mind the fact they were missing pre-algebra and English class, respectively, to help out.
Charlotte Berryman, an avid user of the Blanchard library, has spent the last two days helping box up materials at the old building. Wednesday morning, she drew the tiring job of crossing books a few at a time across 10th Street while Blanchard police officers stopped traffic momentarily for her.
It won’t be long before she’s spending a lot of her time just down the street from that intersection.
“They gave us a tour of the new library and it’s just wonderful,” she said. “I really like what they do and offer.”
And almost exactly an hour after that first book came out the door at Main Street – unfortunately, nobody was sure for certain what it was – the last book, “Everything I Know About Cars,” by Tom Lichtenfeld, was passed by Blanchard mayor Greg Shupert to branch manager Janie Kimbrough.
“This is just a great day for us, a great situation for our community,” Shupert said. “I’m glad to get to be a part of it.”
Carl Lee, a longtime city historian, thought of all the growth he’s seen in the city over the years, in between snapping photos and visiting with people in the crowd.
“Look at that little girl,” he points out. “Every book that is handed to her, every book is just like a treasure to her.”
The new building, which has about twice the space as the former library, as well as a multipurpose room for library programs and other community events, is set to open May 24. While the library is closed, members can use any of the Pioneer Library System’s other eight facilities, which include the Newcastle, Norman and Purcell libraries.
For more information, call the library at 485-2275 or go online to www.justsoyouknow.us/blanchard.