In the year since Geneseo's new $2.5 million library opened, circulation and usage numbers have been up.

In the year since Geneseo's new $2.5 million library opened, circulation and usage numbers have been up.

"In the first three months, our numbers doubled. We were told that would happen. People had a curiosity and everyone came in to see the building and check something out," said Geneseo Public Library District director Claire Crawford.

Though the initial burst of curiosity faded after the first few months, patrons are still using the new library with increased frequency.

"Over the past year, our circulation has been up 20 percent, our meeting room usage has doubled and our inter-library loan numbers are up a third," said Crawford.

In addition, Crawford said the number of visitors to the library from other communities in the surrounding area has increased.

"We're seeing more patrons from Atkinson, Cambridge and the Quad Cities come in. There's always the attraction of seeing the new building," she noted.

Officially opened on Oct. 29, 2011, the Geneseo library was constructed entirely with private donations.

Significant contributors to the building included the Geneseo Foundation, the Geneseo Communications Charitable Foundation, Margaret and Emil Klingler, Margaret and Charles Buyck, Leota Carlson and Sybilla Duncan.

"We don't have a building debt, which is very nice," said Crawford.

The new library has 16,000-square feet, up from the previous library's 6,900 square feet.

The new building was constructed with energy efficiency in mind, and Crawford said despite more than doubling the library's square footage, energy costs have only risen 20 percent.

With the new building, library board trustees also estimated for increased snow removal and lawn care costs. However Crawford said the lack of snowfall followed by summer drought conditions made 2012's numbers difficult to use in determining the true land maintenance cost for the new building.

"We really can't tell what our numbers will be based upon this year," she said.

The success of the library's new interior spaces have been more easily seen.

"We hear the most comments about our genealogy room," said Crawford.

The library's genealogy room features wrought-iron detailed bookshelves from the original Hammond Library.

The shelves — as well as some of the genealogy material itself — were stored in the basement of the previous library, unaccessible by the general public.

"The genealogy room is probably one of the library's greatest assets to the community," said Crawford.

Likewise, the new library features a separate children's area.

"The kids come in and talk about wanting to go to 'their' library. They view the children's room as their own," she said.

Meeting and study room space also has increased at the new library.

The main meeting room can be used as one large room or divided into two room areas. In addition, the new library has a variety of smaller study rooms available.

"There's a lot of after-school tutoring that goes on at the library, and the tutors and their students are able to use the study rooms," said Crawford. "We also have high-school students who want to rehearse speeches or plays come in to use the study rooms."

The availability of multiple meeting spaces has led to an increase in groups and organizations using the library.

Cribbage clubs, knitting groups and card making clubs offered by the library are among those using the rooms.

"We want the public to see us as a resource for the community," said Crawford.

Behind the scenes, the new library offers increased work space for library staff members.

"The space has made a big difference. The staff members now have their own space, instead of 16 people trying to share the same spot," noted Crawford.

The new Geneseo Public Library is located at 805 N. Chicago St., and during its first year at that location, staff members have welcomed a number of librarians from other libraries.

"Other librarians always talk about how much they love the light in our new library. Librarians love the light, the colors and the space. They say our building is very calming. And, of course, they love our study rooms. Who wouldn't want to have that many study rooms?" said Crawford.