It seemed like just another busy day at the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on Monday, as children and adults pored through books and clicked away on computers.
The 5-year-old library, though, had been closed since a car crashed through the southeast corner of the East Side branch on Jefferson Avenue in the early hours of July 10, the result of a drunken driving incident. The air conditioning system was damaged, but the library was able to reopen after the cooling system was partially restored, and with the temporary aid of well-placed fans.
About 60 people were waiting when the doors opened at 8 a.m., with about 200 coming through in the first hour alone, said branch manager Sandra Bush.
"It was like a homecoming. A lot of people came in just to say hello. Everybody said how happy they were that the library was open again," Bush said.
"I'm glad the branch is open, because people really need it here," Bush said.
Dorchell Harris, who lives within walking distance of the library, said she had inquired regularly about when it might reopen.
"I depend on this library a great deal, looking for employment and especially for the Internet connection. It's a resource in this particular community that is like gold; it's their life support," Harris said.
"When it wasn't available for me, it caused a lot of stress in my life," she said.
Others also spoke of how much they depend on their neighborhood library.
"I'm happy to see it opened. It practically ruined my summer because it was closed for like a month," said Candice Lowery, who stopped in after work to surf the Internet.
Lowery said the library would now give her little brothers and sisters "something to do and a place to read."
That was true for Tierra Perdue, 14, who used a computer to go on Facebook and to play games, as well as read.
"When the library was closed, I was very bored at home. This is like my home away from home," said Perdue, an incoming freshman at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.
Janeisha Ramsey said she also counted on the library for computer use, and to read books.
Mayor Byron W. Brown's 2011 Kids Summer Reading Challenge was on the minds of Christopher Wright, 7, and his grandmother Elizabeth Cummings as they looked for books on the suggested reading list.
Another grandparent, Herbert Dennis, was overseeing Zion, 5, and Izaria, 11.
"It was inconvenient for the library to be closed, but thank God it's back up," Dennis said.