Did you know the second week of April is National Library Week? It’s a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. But how often – actually or virtually – do you visit your local library?
Gone are the days of shushing, and quietly checking books in and out. Nowadays our libraries are vibrant, bustling centers of activity, information and community. They host book groups and wellness workshops. And you can even get a cup of coffee!
And while books – and DVDs and electronic books – continue to be checked in and out, the library of today wears many hats over the course of a day. Here are some of them, as suggested by the Ossining Public Library:
- Detective Agency. Finding information for patrons sometimes takes us on circuitous paths. One of our librarians was once asked for the name of a book with a man’s name in the title that was made into a movie with Kevin Costner. After some serious sleuthing, she deduced that it was About Schmidt (which actually starred Jack Nicholson, but she learned a lot about Costner’s resume that day). Completing a search and putting a patron together with an item they are seeking is tremendously satisfying.
- Cheerleading Squad. Some of our favorite moments are wishing our patrons luck – for example when someone we helped perfect their resume heads out for an interview. Or when an expectant mother checks out an armful of parenting books. We want our patrons to succeed.
- School. Yoga classes, language classes, computer classes, and art classes fill our busy calendar of programming and then there’s the teaching we do one-on-one – helping an elderly patron to connect with his grandchildren across the country via Facetime, or working on math homework with elementary schoolers. Watching the recognition pass over a person’s face as they master a skill is one of our favorite things.
To these, Briarcliff Manor Public Library might also add Restaurant since the library holds monthly cookbook potluck suppers; Dance Hall, as it’s the venue for the free square-dancing program on Saturday May 18th; and Play Space, for its Lego league.
Tarrytown’s Warner Library has another suggestion: Home Cinema. Fans of foreign films, classic movies and documentaries should check out Kanopy, a streaming service with over 30,000 films to stream on any device. And then there’s Hoopla, a digital collection of over 200,000 streaming and downloadable movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks that you can access on your computer or download to a portable device. Just download the apps, create a login, enter your library card number and away you go.
These days, libraries offer a much wider range of possibilities than the serious absorption of study, although there’s that too. Children get excited; teens find gratification at the discovery of the latest book in a series; adults are delighted by Sunday afternoon concerts.
It’s hard to think of another institution so dynamic, so fulfilling, so affordable and so close at hand.