Darien Library extends hours again on Tuesday
With more than 40 percent of town still out of power as of Tuesday afternoon, many Darienites are without the simple pleasures of charging a cell phone, sending an e-mail or reading a book by lamp light this week.
The Darien Library has stepped up to the plate, extending its hours of service to help make Darien residents more comfortable during the days immediately following the storm.
On Sunday afternoon, during its four hours of operation, the library served slightly less than 1,000 people; the library usually sees between 600 and 800 people on a "busy" Sunday, according to Director Louise Berry.
"I've never seen the library so full as it was Sunday," Berry said. "We had just under 1,000 people, and they were here for the entire four hours we were open, so every seat was full. We actually opened the auditorium to have more seating for people."
The library operated from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, its typical schedule for that day of the week, but extended its hours on Monday and Tuesday to help accommodate the need.
"Mostly people, I think, are interested in getting online. We had people waiting for the library's computer on Sunday, and lots of people on their own laptops with their wireless connections. A lot of people wanted to ether get access to the Internet to see what was happening, or check their e-mail and other communication.
"We're like this giant charging station," Berry said. "Every outlet, even in the hallways, had laptops and cell phones in them."
During the library's period of peak usage on Monday, 166 people were using the wireless Internet at once; average daily peak usage is 48 people at once, according to the library's assistant director for innovation, John Blyberg.
So many people made their way to the library on Monday and Tuesday that the library had to refer patrons to park elsewhere, with its own lot overflowing.
"Even though we normally don't refer to Thorndale Circle during the business day, we're sending people way back there for overflow parking," Berry said on Monday afternoon.
With schools closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, there has been an influx in the number of children at the library. Last Monday saw 531 children visit the children's library, a figure that Blyberg said is "typical." This Monday there were 2,181 visits to the children library.
In addition, the library itself saw 2,109 visitors, as compared with 1,287 the previous Monday.
"It's pretty much a snapshot of Darien," Berry said. "It's all ages. It's families and couples. Half the town doesn't' have power so we're seeing a lot of people come beyond our normal traffic."
The new library building, which was opened to the public last January does a pretty good job of housing large numbers of people, Berry said.
"Walking around the building Sunday, I just couldn't believe how full it was. We can absorb a lot of people in this building and have it not look full, and it looked full yesterday, because people were camped out," she said.
While the library is normally open until 9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, it kept its doors open until 11 p.m. both days this week in an effort to provide an extra level of comfort to Darienites.
During Monday's extra hours, 79 visitors stopped in, and Berry said she felt there would have been more if people knew the building was open. On Tuesday evening, the library will screen "American Idol" and "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock, at 8 p.m.
It will also screen "The Princess and the Frog" at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday to entertain Darien children; Darien Public Schools will be closed again on Wednesday.