The people most connected to the day-to-day operations of the Christian County Library have some big dreams. They celebrated some of those dreams Saturday at the library’s Ozark branch.

The library hosted a grand opening of a recently revamped outdoor gazebo, the one year anniversary of the Ozark branch’s renovation, the conclusion of the 2019 summer reading program and a lot more on Aug. 10.

Library patrons counted the time they spent reading over the summer in record numbers.

“The end of summer is always a reason to celebrate for librarians. Our summer reading program is the biggest thing that we do all year. It was the biggest that we’ve had,” Christian County Library Ozark Branch Supervisor Jordan Gloyd said. “Close to 3 million minutes this community read.”

The gazebo has been modernized with new furniture that includes meeting tables for families and reading chairs for anyone who wants to kick back with a book in a fresh air environment.

Mabel Phillips, the former director of the Christian County Library, oversaw the original construction of the gazebo in 2000. It was originally built thanks to a donation from Genella (Kissock) Sondhi, who grew up in Ozark. When she returned for a high school class reunion in 1998, Sondhi approached Phillips about finding a way to make a lasting contribution to the library.

Phillips recounted that Sondhi had a list of objectives that included, “a waiting place for people who are finished before others who came to the library with them, outside story hours, spare meeting are and a break and lunch place for the staff.”

“A gazebo met all these needs,” Phillips said.

Gloyd said the gazebo renovation is the first part of a much larger dream that the library staff and stakeholders have for the outdoor space on the west side of the Ozark library. They dream of turning a hillside that faces Finley River Park into a place for people to enjoy library programs outside. The library would fund the projects through private donations. The first step would be to expand the gazebo.

“We would love to give it a second tier,” Gloyd said. “We’re looking at ways that we could turn our grassy hill into a public gathering area with a stage where we could have musical acts or other performers. Of course, that requires money, that requires time, so let’s see what happens.”

As the library’s trustees pursue the dream of an open-air theater, the librarians in Ozark still get guests who marvel at the changes that have been in place indoors for a year now.

“We get people every day—still every day, coming in and saying “Wow, this is the first time I’ve been in. It’s so much brighter. It’s beautiful,’” Gloyd said.

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