PEACE DALE – For the first time in more than two decades, library patrons can now stroll through the front doors of the Peace Dale Library.
After receiving a $7,004 grant from the Champlin Foundation, the library was able to make the necessary repairs and restorations, according to Director Laurel Ann Clark. Although they've always been used as an emergency exit, the doors have long been out of commission since the handicapped entrance was put in by the back parking lot.
The day was months in the making, but on July 8, the doors were finally opened to the public for the first time in decades.
"Most people don't even know you can use them yet," Clark said, laughing a little to herself. "I've seen more people just walk right by. We have them propped open so that people will see they're open, but they've been closed so long that people don't even see that."
Clark, who's been at the Peace Dale Library for three years now, said she's not entirely certain of when the doors became an emergency exit only, but she has a good idea thanks to the library's longest-serving employee.
Reference Librarian Jessica Wilson, who's worked in the library since 1991, said the doors have been closed ever since she arrived for her first day on the job, but she does remember using them in the late ‘80s as a patron.
"I was an occasional patron here in the ‘80s," Wilson said. "I used to bring my daughter here when she was a little girl. We didn't come for story hour or anything, we would just pop in from the playground occasional, but we used to come in through those doors."