Last updated: March 16. 2013 11:38PM - 985 Views

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KINGSTON – Despite inundation during two historic floods, a disastrous mid-winter roof collapse and a technological transformation of reading habits, the landmark Hoyt Library is still alive and lending to a record number of patrons.

The West Side library is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year and several events – still unplanned – will be held to mark the occasion.

The Hoyt Library is part of the Luzerne County Library System, serving residents of Kingston, Forty Fort, Swoyersville, Edwardsville, Courtdale, Pringle and Luzerne. However, residents from throughout Luzerne County can stop in to use it.

Having public libraries like the Hoyt is very important, especially in today's economy, said Melissa Szafran, the library's director. In 2012, we had more than 92,000 visits.

The library offers many programs for children, youth and adults. In addition to books, it has reference materials, newspapers, computer use, audio books, DVDs and much more.

While the materials are more technologically advanced than 85 years ago, the concept has remained unchanged.

Early 19th-century roots

In 1810, Daniel Hoyt, a prominent resident of Kingston, formed a library group so that residents could have the mutual benefits of books. Hoyt's grandson Henry would serve in the Civil War and afterward was elected the 18th governor of Pennsylvania.

Many years passed before the book group was formalized, and when it did it remained a Hoyt endeavor. In the early 20th century Frank Weston Hoyt bequeathed the residence of his father, Samuel Hoyt, on Wyoming Avenue near Hoyt Street, to Kingston to be used as a public library.

With the financial support of Kingston Council, the Hoyt Library opened on Jan. 1, 1928. The first librarian was Margaret Jackson. Her successor was Frances Dorrance (the latter a prominent area citizen and a founder of the Wyoming Historical & Geological Society, now the Luzerne County Historical Society).

In 1986, an addition was built to allow for more books, meeting rooms and a children's wing.

On Valentine's Day 2007, the library roof of the new addition collapsed from the weight of snow and sleet. It took two years to rebuild and renovate the library; it reopened in October 2009. Kingston received a $1.8 million grant in state gaming funds for the reconstruction. The library established a Development Committee that raised $647,000 for the furniture, carpeting and other necessities. The committee received county and state grants and grants from foundations and private donations.

A busy place

The Hoyt serves more than 300 patrons a day and last week, Rita Jenkins of Forty Fort was one of them. Jenkins said she has been coming to the Hoyt for years – the last eight on a regular basis. She said the staff is friendly and always helpful when she has questions.

The library gives me access to all the best sellers, the newest books and the classics of literature, Jenkins said. I'm an avid reader, and at the library, I don't have to buy all the books I read.

Frances Yeager of Forty Fort likes the convenience of the library, where she has been regular for 15 years.

I can read here or take books home to read, she said. And they have movies too. And you can't beat the price.

Yeager said she likes the quiet atmosphere.

Szafran said the library is committed to education, self-help and lifelong learning. Whether you are interested in doing a job search, researching your family tree, looking for quality children's programming, in need of special resources (such as large-print books) or just learning to read, the library is for you, she said.

Szafran said that when you add up the money saved by people who use the Hoyt, the number is staggering – about $3.6 million worth of services.

The Hoyt offers after-school tutoring for students who need help with homework, or other services such as help preparing for college entrance exams.

Szafran said the annual budget for the Hoyt is around $500,000 and funding comes from the county, state and local governments. Jane Manganella, director of development for the Hoyt, said donations are vital to the library's existence. Several fundraising events are conducted each year, the largest being the annual campaign, she said.

The funding we receive from the county, state and municipalities is never a definite, Szafran said. We are constantly facing cuts. That's why we are always looking for ways to raise money.

Help the Hoyt
Hoyt Library stats

To donate to the Hoyt Library, 284 Wyoming Ave., Kingston, or for more information, contact:

• Jane Manganella, director of development, at 287-2013, ext. 235

• Visit the website: www.hoytlibrary.org

• 14,717 patrons attended more than 549 programs for adults and children. If users had to pay $10 each, it would cost $147,170

• If those 14,172 patrons used the Free Internet at $5 each, cost would be $70,860

• 517 uses of the free labs by tutors and students. If users paid $30 for each use - $15,510

• 341 uses of the Community Room by groups, organizations and individuals. If users paid $50 for each use - $17,050

• The Hoyt Library generated over $3.4 million worth of great services in 2011.

• More than 92,700 people visited the library Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011.

• An average of 311 people visit the library daily

• An average of 327 items are borrowed daily

• An average of 62 reference questions are answered daily

• An average of 48 people accessed the Internet daily

To see additional photos, visit www.times


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