Bookmarks: A Literary Gem in Our Own Backyard



A Literary Gem in Our Own Backyard

In recent years, the Osterhout Free Library, located on South Franklin St. in Wilkes-Barre, has undergone a resurgence in community outreach, peppering the literary landscape with numerous workshops and readings, thanks, in part, to one woman: Rachael Goetzke, the Early Literacy Outreach Specialist.
In her position, Goetzke helps plan the children’s programming at the library, promotes community literacy, and also visits 10 local daycares in the Wilkes-Barre area, where she reads to young children.
I recently spoke with Goetzke and asked her some questions about the library, upcoming events and the library’s literary magazine, Word Fountain.

Tell us a little about your library. How is it unique and how did it come about?
Isaac Smith Osterhout (“ooh-ster howt”) willed a substantial portion of his estate for the establishment of a free public library. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey decimal system, was an advisory board member. Dewey recommended that the board buy the First Presbyterian Church, an edifice built in 1849, and use it for approximately 10 years until permanent arrangements could be made. We are still in the original building.

How did Word Fountain, the Osterhout’s literary magazine, come about?
In 2009, a few creative staff members, also active in our growing creative community, thought it would be a unique venture. We saw the creativity all around us and thought that our library would be the perfect place to create and maintain a literary magazine. A teenage patron came up with the title through a contest we had. Since its inception, we’ve had a great community response. Currently our staff is myself, Edward Lupico and Iris Johston. To submit to Word Fountain, visit

What do you see in the future for libraries?
I’d like to think that libraries will always be important to the community. Personally, I will always value the history and nostalgia of holding a real book in my hand, and the human interaction that happens from physically being in the library. But the library is versatile and accommodates the changing needs of the community. We update our technology and learn about the latest developments so we can help people. That’s what we do, no matter the task. I just hope that people will always be willing to support us, especially with these daunting budget cuts.

Tell us about some of the events you have planned for the summer.
We always have an abundance of programs for all ages. We’re gearing up for our summer reading clubs (we now have one for all ages). Consistently, there are monthly book talks, writers’ groups, poetry workshops, story times, teen nights (Wednesdays at 6:30), computer classes, a monthly pajama story time for families, etc. We also have a new Classic Corner for seniors. On May 2nd, we will premiere the PA One Book Every Young Child. (book: Stop Snoring, Bernard!)
On June 8 at 7 p.m., we have a special program called O Jabberwocky! That is hosted at Arts YOUniverse (47 S. Franklin St. in Wilkes-Barre, just down the street from the library.) A local hula-hooping troupe will put on a special performance. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will go to the Osterhout’s Early Literacy program so that area children can participate in next year’s One Book Every Young Child initiative.
Also, the library’s annual book sale is June 18 through 23rd. We sell books, CDs, audiobooks, records, etc.

How can we become more involved in the library and its programs?
The best way is to just stop by. We thrive on volunteers, donations and services. We always have something going on and we’re always here to help!

For more information on upcoming events at the library, you can visit their website at:, follow them on Facebook, or call 823-0156.

Amye Barrese Archer is a writer and teacher in Scranton. You can read more about her at

  • Liter8

    Great article. I love reading Word Fountain. They are putting out a special issue to commemorate the flooding of 1972 & 2011. They are accepting submissions until May 12….any poem, story, memoir, drawing, photograph, artwork…any original work about the local flooding of 1972 or 2011 and anyone can submit.

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