Karri Meares, a librarian assistant at the Carson City Library since 1994, used paper dolls to illustrate how demand for the library's services has increased in the past 40 years.
"Our patrons might have been wondering why we were sitting at the desk cutting out paper dolls," she said. Anyone going to the library can see the result of the handiwork.
Meares - and virtually all of the other library employees when they found spare time to help - cut out more than a thousand little drawings of people and assembled hundreds of tiny library books to illustrate increased demand.
"I wanted to do something that represented graphically how desperate the library is," said Meares.
Meares placed the little cutouts of people on maps to illustrate the city's population growth since the mid-1960s. Mini models of the library help to show increases in library use with more cutouts and the stacks of small books.
The Nevada State Library and Archives even helped Meares find the Carson City maps on which the cutouts stand, she said.
Old photographs, newspaper stories and an array of statistics accompany Meares' displays, and will be up for viewing through June 30.
The Carson City Library used to be in the basement of the Civic Auditorium - now the site of the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada - with about 4,000 square feet of space. It moved to its present location on Roop Street in 1971 and added a second wing in 1981, for a total of 21,600 square feet, according to Meares' display.
Members of the Library Board of Trustees are considering creating a voter initiative to help keep up with service demand, such as by creating a new funding mechanism or asking for approval of a bond to pay for a new library building. If so, it would be put before voters in 2008.
Obtaining enough money to keep pace with demand for public library services is a longtime struggle familiar to library employees across the country.
Locally, the city initially planned to cut the funds available to the library for materials this year. After some reductions in operations were made, the materials money was restored to a minimum level required for an array of grants and matching funds offered by the state and federal government.
"It was hard, but it was fun," Meares said of the experience. "Even if only a few people stop and look, it will have been worth my time."
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
By the numbers
Carson City Library
Number of people visiting each day
1966: About 75
2006: More than 1,000
Average cost of materials per item
Carson City population
Source: Carson City Library