By Lynn M.
I just finished watching the library video story when my 7-year-old nephew knocked on my office window. Unbeknownst to me, he had been camped out under my window with his father’s watch to tell him when my work day had officially ended. The reason he was so excited? His favorite author we had been sharing together had released a new series he found at our local library. We began the original series together, first my reading to him, then progressing to sharing the reading together, and finally him reading the last three books to me. He was so excited he already read the entire book during recess, lunch, and the ride home from school. Neither his father nor his mother read for pleasure. While they are quick to pay for a new video game or toy, they do not buy him books. His love of reading is supported mainly by our local public library and his school library. Checking out my limit of books is how I devoured books when I first learned to read, and it’s so wonderful he has that resource available to him in this day and age of digital media. Without the resources a library provides, he would be limited to the books I buy for him as the only adult in his life that shares the love of reading. When he can devour a book in less than a day, it’s not a habit anyone less than a full library could sustain! It is so wonderful to see him just as excited by library day at school as he is by pizza day!
Our local library is a valuable community resource. Many of the community members use the computers there to take online enrichment and job hunting courses offered through partnerships with local colleges and the community education board for the city. The meeting room is filled every day with every type of gathering possible: from support groups for grief and addiction, resume clinics, story hour for children, collectable card games for teenagers, Lego building workshops focusing on teaching children the basics of design and creation, master gardening clubs who gather to research the latest information from the University, workshops on creative writing, and there is even a group that meets to play fantasy games. Because we have a rural library, our library partners with several different digital media partners to increase the books and magazines our community has access to, and there is even an interlibrary loan system to spread the possibility of being able to get the exact book you need on a particular subject.
Our community is actually on its second library, as our first burnt down in the late 1990s. So much history of the city and knowledge was lost when the library burned. The only good to come from that fire was the new library was rebuilt to include digital media options. We have an area filled with computers so those working on online education courses have space to work without requiring internet in the more rural areas. We have a resource desk devoted to all the digital offerings open to anyone with a library card, and this is in addition to a traditional resource desk for assistance with the physical materials. Recently, our library expanded to include digital media such as games, movies, documentaries, and video reference materials. They even added wifi so the high school and college kids can bring their laptop to one of the study cubbies to work in peace with high speed internet.
The best part about our local library? The excited look in my nephew’s eyes when I suggest we take a trip over there to see what new books have come in since the last time we were there. I’ve learned to bring a shopping tote, as his backpack never fits his full selection of books!