It’s the season to count blessings and assess the past year. Once I finish listing family and friends, another favorite is the local library and its wonderful librarians. No matter where I’ve lived or worked, these book lenders are critical to a town’s success. If you don’t possess one already, head to the front desk, meet that guardian of knowledge, and arrange the power to check out books and movies throughout the year. Heck, get a Kansas Library card while you’re at it and add research services.
During early statehood, these institutions focused primarily on loaning books. Over time, these magical passes permitted access to newspapers and periodicals affordable to few families. As one might expect, services have changed over the 150 years since community libraries first improved rural lives. Today, most patrons possess technology that lets them read on line so they don’t need to check out books. If they don’t own one, they can borrow a library device. So what’s a good librarian do to make certain patrons keep coming through their doors?
Over the last few years, even dinosaurs like me who enjoy the weight of a book in hand and the sensory thrill of flipping pages have observed that library services evolve constantly. Because more folks read digital texts, librarians don’t need to buy as many hard copies. As a result, more of us now depend on interlibrary loan to get our sniff of lignin from the printed page. Instead, limited budgets purchase videos, electronic games, audio books for travelers, and technology. In addition, small-town librarians design intriguing one-time as well as ongoing opportunities to explore the world. One friend serving a small library says it best--programming is everything.
Investigate your local library as well as those nearby. Enjoy tea parties and movie or game nights, receive homework help, listen to various speakers, learn genealogy, explore 3-D printing or robotics, and more. Every director works overtime to encourage residents of all ages to enter their doors several times a week.
Most facilities sponsor story time, which introduces toddlers to books and fun. Little ones might mime stories and march through colorful obstacle courses that begins a lifetime habit of recognizing characters and authors. One innovator creates a Lego based activity every week to keep little ones looking forward to their next visit.
Another friend in charge of a very small facility designed a teen corner where junior high and high school kids meet to play games, compare favorite books, and join a scavenger hunt. This creative lady took pictures of her town’s unique but rarely noticed architecture, trees, and other highlights. She ran off multiple prints of each photo and directed teams to find odd shaped windows, funky tree trunks, and other oddities. Combining laughter and learning built great memories.
If you aren’t a regular at your library, stop and visit. The librarian has a book, movie, app, or program you’ll enjoy. If nothing else, suggest something to add to the schedule. Odds are at least one other person in town would appreciate your idea. Sure, it’s Christmas time when we’re supposed to give gifts to others, but using your local library is a present you’ll savor all year long.