By Perry Schaible
WEST CHESTER TWP. - Circulation so far this year at this booming township's library is expected to hit 1 million by the end of the month. The 15,000-square-foot library has been lending an average 100,000 items a month.
"Most libraries that circulate that many items are much bigger than this," branch manager Steve Mayhugh said. "It's phenomenal. It just doesn't stop."
The Cox Road library is busting at the binding, officials say. Talk of a larger library for the township has faded since it began in 2001.
Card-holders checked out 1.14 million books, movies and other items in 2003, a 5 percent increase from 2002.
Residents are noticing the growing pains. Some complain about the records-keeping system, an understaffed front desk and the lack of parking.
Tina Ellis of Mason visits the library at least once a week from her nearby office.
"They've outgrown their space," she said.
Mason resident Steve Schnell has been using the library computers while his condominium is being renovated.
"I couldn't even get in several times, and they wouldn't even take my name," he said.
Mayhugh said the front desk is fully staffed, but he admits that space is limited. The library has eight computer terminals for adults and two for children.
"We've got to make do with what we have. Until we get a new building out here, we just have no choice than to offer the best service we can out of this building," Mayhugh said.
A third bookdrop has been added outside the building, and book sales occur twice a year to make space for new material. The next sale will be Friday and Saturday, with a preview sale Thursday for "Friends of the Library" benefactors.
The West Chester Library is a branch of the Middletown Public Library, and there has been talk since 2001 of giving the township its own, bigger library. However, tight budgets have put that proposal on the shelf.
Trustee president Catherine Stoker said there are no current plans to split away from Middletown, but she wants to make a new library a priority.
"It's nothing really other than talk until it becomes an official township project," she said.