It’s Not Your Mother’s Library Anymore
AUTHOR: JEANNIE MILLER
I can still feel my first library, located in the room off to the right as you entered Woman’s Club building in Safford, Arizona. Somewhat dark inside– especially when you first came in out of the bright sunshine, hardwood floors, a few free-standing stacks, and book-lined walls between the windows that looked out onto trees. Quiet. Always very quiet and the librarian behind the checkout desk reminding you it was to remain that way.
It wasn’t the kind of library where you could sit down at a table or on a chair to spend some time; there just wasn’t room for extraneous furniture. Actually, there wasn’t much room for people, either. But, there was enough room for me to discover the Wizard of Oz books and all fairy tale books with colors in their titles that lined the window sill at the back of the room. I found Cherry Ames, Student Nurse’s adventures, along with Nancy Drew’s on the shelves just to the left of the checkout desk when I was older and could reach higher than the window sill.
A book was checked out by hand with its due date handwritten on the ledger card that was then slipped back into the little pocket inside its front cover. Overdue books were not appreciated.
I wasn’t particularly literarily-inclined in my youth and I don’t remember that I got much further than Cherry and Nancy and the Hardy Boys at the Woman’s Club library.
Then, in college, the various libraries were located in Gothic-styled buildings, gargoyles boring their eyes into you as you approached the heavy doors. Inside, long rooms, high-vaulted ceilings, hanging lamps, and rows of polished walnut tables set the mood for serious business. These libraries were about learning, research, classics, and housing bound master and doctoral theses. I went to them mostly to study, while, needless to say, also to check-out whoever else might be hanging out there.
It wasn’t until I became a mom that I discovered libraries offered more than just lending out books and space to do homework. All those story hours and children activities were news to me.
In my “day job” information technology professional capacity, I was quite involved with the selection and implementation processes of cataloging and lending software applications, as well as on-line database resources for several municipal libraries, and was there when they upgraded telecommunications and in-house hardware and software to bring the Internet into the lives of their patrons. It seems like just yesterday, and yet…
Libraries “aren’t your mother’s libraries” anymore. Even though I was right there, smack dab in the middle of the beginning of the electronic revolution that so drastically changed how libraries view themselves and do business, I still am blown away by what libraries do for their communities using both newer electronic capabilities and good old-fashion person-to-person communication.
I offer for your consideration the Silver City Public Library and the WNMU Miller Library as examples of new models. Indeed, some of the other libraries in the area are very small but they, too, offer diverse programs for their communities. Visit these wonderful community resources by clicking on the links below. You may be surprised at what’s going on and the services they offer.
BTW, did you know that you can check out e-books at the Silver City Public Library?