As it heads into its third month of operation, the new Central Rappahannock Regional Library branch in the Spotsylvania Towne Centre is exceeding expectations of both patrons and library staff.

Since it opened Aug. 8, the branch—located at the entrance near Macy’s and the U.S. Post Office—has issued 200 new library cards and checked out thousands of books and other items. Branch manager Christine Carlson said the response from visitors has been overwhelmingly positive. Some have marveled at the idea of a library in a mall, and others have suggested that every mall should have one.

“Many find us by accident as they walk in and out of the busy mall exit,” Carlson said. “More and more visitors are coming on purpose. They hear about us from the other branches or read about us in the paper and want to come and check us out.”

In addition to books and periodicals, the branch offers such services as copying, faxing and internet access. There are board games available, and many people stop by to play chess and teach others the game, Carlson said.

The computers are a popular draw, and many people spend hours at a time taking advantage of the library’s Wi-Fi and charging ports to work on their laptops, she said.

For children, the library offers Mother Goose and Alphabet Soup programs and two Grow a Reader classes offering literacy experiences for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Participation in these programs has surpassed expectations, library officials said.

“Alphabet Soup averages 25 participants, on par with other major branches,” said Carlson. “Yet the programs don’t feel crowded.”

For teens, the library offers Gaming Night on Sunday, which features Xbox gaming on the large branch TV, as well as dozens of board games.

“Teens have literally been running to the branch to participate,” Carlson said.

Central Rappahannock Regional Library Director Martha Hutzel said parents and youth aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the new branch.

“We are seeing many mall employees stop by, get library cards, check out materials, and use the space on their breaks,” Hutzel said. “It’s been fabulous so far.”

Two new programs kick off this week. PAWS for Reading, in which school-age children read to specially trained therapy dogs, will be offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. The October session has already been booked up.

Book Chat will begin Tuesday, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Starbucks just down the hall.

“Adults can read whatever they like then come talk about it with other readers,” Carlson explained. “It’s a great way to hear about new books, share your passion for reading, and expand your horizons.”

In the next few weeks, the library will put comfortable seating in front of the branch in the hall right outside the door. In December, the branch plans to add a Books Before Bedtime evening event for children.

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