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The Yankee Express

Webster’s Gladys E. Kelly Library visitor numbers increase by 300%

The Gladys E. Kelly Library’s newest member tries out the new Magnetic Board with her dad.


The Gladys E. Kelly Library is alive, vibrant, and pleased to report a 300% increase in patrons visiting the educational institution over the past year. In 2021, visitors were tallied at 1,000. In 2022, the library experienced an increase to 4,000 users. The number is incredible and a testament to the voters of Webster who saw the future benefit of their library’s building and expansion of services offered. 
“We attribute our increased population to our new and regularly scheduled and dependable programs for all ages,” said Sondra Murphy, Library Director. “We have recently added a full-time Program Coordinator, Randa Cox, who has been instrumental in activity development. Our entire staff has been working hard to keep our programs and activities going. We are proud of what we have accomplished.” Staff members include: Evan Hale, Assistant Director; Andrew Tai, Children’s and Youth Services Librarian; Natalie McDonald, Children’s Assistant; and Jen Millett and Janessa Barrette, Library Assistants. 
The Library Board’s agenda recently included a five-year plan in accordance with state requirements and asked the town’s citizens to participate by placing the survey on the library website, in the library lobby, at the senior center, and in the town hall. As of this writing, over 100 responses had been received with a last submission date of February 1. Community involvement is the life blood of any public entity and the library’s goals have gained a great amount of momentum. “We have hired a consultant, Barbara Alevras, to assist us with our five-year plan. Our local committee consists off Donna Becker, Elaine Davies, Rena Klebart, and myself. We’ve created the community survey and after tabulating the survey results, we hope to have focus groups,” Ms. Murphy stated.
Brainstorming will continue with a look at the history of and future plans for the library. Once results have been compiled objectives and goals will be established for the strategic plan which will be reviewed and approved by the Library Trustees with submission to the state in October. The end goal is to use the plan to navigate the library’s future. “There hasn’t been a comprehensive plan done in a long time,” said Ms. Murphy, “but we will use this new information to learn what the community wants as we look at and plan for the future.” 
Ms. Murphy elaborated on the Kelly Library’s recent developments where they applied for and received a $9,000 grant for a Community Garden. “The Webster DPW is gracious enough to assemble the raised beds for our garden and we will be collaborating with local farmers for seedlings beginning in May. This project is part of our food literacy and outdoor education program. The garden’s dimensions will be 10 feet by 50 feet. We also have other new programs in the works including a Cookbook Club where members can take home cookbooks, choose and make a recipe, and bring that food item to the next meeting. A Spice Club is also on the menu where members can enjoy and explore new spices and their uses with the current spice-of-the-month being cardamom, a flavor native to the Indian subcontinent.”  
The Kelly Library was also fortunate to receive a grant from the Janet Malser Humanities Trust for STEM funding for children. They have added 15 new learning kits to their collection such as programmable robots and children’s learning games like the new Giant Magnet Wall, a light table, and wind tunnel. There are many other exciting events spearheaded by the Friends of the Library such as the Taste of Webster Event and Books, Bites, and Blooms. A new website has also been online for the past six months making it easier to navigate the library’s website. There’s so much activity going on at the library that you owe it to yourself to check out their building and to check out their website.  (508) 949-3880. Gladys E. Kelly Public Library, 2 Lake Street, Webster MA 01570.
Hours: Mon/Tues/Thurs 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Wed 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Fri 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.   

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” 
–Neil Gaiman  

Contact Janet at [email protected]