by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Kathy Kucharski, Peterson Library manager, is right at home in Peterson Library. And boy, did her home just get an extreme makeover.
Infused with “quality of life” funds from North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, the Peterson Library has new furniture, new shelves and new book stands that make the library look as modern as any high-end bookstore. Ms. Kurcharski is thrilled.
“I’ve been joking that the staff is now the oldest thing in the library,” she said.
It was no joke that some of the book shelves were held together with rope and that the 25-year-old oak furniture was starting to crack. Ms. Kucharski was constantly worried that the 6-foot, heavy oak shelves in the children’s section were going to tip over. None of the computer desks matched and the wood-framed lounge chairs were clunky. But, the staff made it work, Ms. Kucharski said. The six-member library team continuously receives high praise for its customer service and the library is always adding new programs, including a whole line of college text books that Airmen can check out, instead of having to purchase, for their college courses.
The Peterson Library’s makeover began two years ago with $100,000 from NORAD/NORTHCOM. That’s when the library got a new, more modern circulation desk, cherry wood work tables and study carrels, leather chairs and sofas and café-style tables near the periodicals. The money also paid for DVDs – doubling the collection – more audio books and preloaded digital audio books and music players.
Now, the 20 computer desks are glass-topped, modern looking with sliding keyboard trays for more room to spread out work on the table – something customers asked for, Ms. Kucharski said. The other most popular new item is the Play Station 3 in the “Game Zone” at the back of the library.
This year, NORAD/NORTHCOM designated $106,000 toward the Peterson Library and Ms. Kucharski used it to buy new shelves, book carts and book displays. The money was also used to buy DVDs, which will be given out to families in the summer reading program.
And, there is more good news for library users. The 21st Space Wing has provided funds to the library to increase hours of operation. This past year, library hours were cut from 60 to 40 hours a week and patrons let Ms. Kucharski know they didn’t like the change. This fiscal year, money was added back to her budget to get the hours up to 56 hours a week. Patrons – and in fiscal year 2010 there were 95,000 — are relieved, she said, especially those who use the library on Saturday.
Col. Thomas Hensley, 544th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group commander, toured the library Oct. 28 during an open house celebration. He took command in July and said he wanted to find out more about the resources available for his Airmen and their families.
“I heard the library underwent renovation and I wanted to see what was available for my Airmen,” he said. “I want them to be aware of all of the resources available to them.”
The Peterson Library has new cook books, new books on health and two different language learning programs that offer instruction in dozens of languages. There are hundreds of new DVD movies for checkout and hundreds of “Literacy Kits” for children, which are backpacks with a DVD and book inside ready for check out.
“This place looks totally different now than when I started in 1999,” Ms. Kucharski said. “I’m really proud of it.”
The Peterson Library hours:
n 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday
n 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday
n 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday