Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Post: Library Love by The Biblio Brat

(I'm so excited to have J.C. Montgomery of The Biblio Brat here to share about her passion for supporting the library as part of a series of guest posts on the ways we get our books. Be sure to visit her blog after reading this...I know you will want to!)

Amy asked if I would be willing to write a guest post about supporting my local library, or really, why I love and support my local library.

I think I’ve made it clear through a few posts and comments left around the blogosphere that I tend to purchase most of my books from a group called Friends of the Library. They run a bookstore called Secondhand Prose that is managed and staffed by volunteers. Proceeds benefit the Washoe County Library System.

Their mission is “to strengthen public libraries in Washoe County. Backed by the belief that libraries are uniquely democratic, Friends promote, advocate for, and seek, funding for libraries. Through our projects, we strive to give children an educational head start, encourage literacy, and foster life-long learning and recreation for adults.”

An amazing but true fact: their volunteers recycle and use over 75 tons of books annually. Yes, that’s right – 75 tons!

Other than supporting breast cancer groups (diagnosed myself in April 2000), this cause is very near, and dear, to my heart. Supporting education, literacy, and the love of learning and reading. I just don’t know any cause that means so much to individuals and the community and one that all of us should be concerned about.

Now that is why, and how, I support my local library.

But how do I love thee? Let me count the ways….and in no particular order.

  1. One of the coolest Library Cards imaginable: one that fits on my keychain, just like those ones you can get at the grocery store. This makes it very convenient as I always have my number available for logging into my account. With their online access, I can check on the status of books or any other materials I need. If they are available and not at my branch, I can ask that they be transferred and held. I get an automated phone call to let me know they have arrived, or I can check online myself.

    Also, the bar code on the back also makes it amazingly quick to check out items as they are only a scan away.
  2. MP3 Audiobook titles. This new format offers iPod®, iPhone™, and iPod Touch support. Overdrive Media console for Mac's is also available.

    Not that I listen to books at the moment, but I know that many bloggers out there do. Until these peepers of mine give out, I still prefer the tactile enjoyment of leafing through a spellbinding tale. However, if I had a commute like the one I used to have in California, this would be a no-brainer. I am thrilled that this is an option I have available to me.
  3. How about cool programs for kids such as "Discover the Mysteries of the World @ Your Library” that encourages children of all ages to read for fun, knowledge and the opportunity to win prizes representing different countries. Children will select a reading log for one of 11 countries and when they have read 10 hours, will be eligible to win one of the grand prizes. Children may finish multiple logs with chances to win increased with each completed reading log.

    All library programs are free and children are welcome to participate at multiple libraries.

    How cool is that?
  4. Adults aren’t left out either with programs and reading clubs for every taste. They even have an event the first Sunday of every month called Conversation CafĂ©. This is an event where you are encouraged to drop by and get to know others in your community.

And really, isn’t that what this is all about: community and the servicing of that community?

Just as our tax dollars are used to support the Police and Fire departments, it is just as well spent on an institution that shows no bias toward any group, toward any age, toward any faith.

I cannot put it any better than this policy approved by the Washoe County Library System in 1993. The following are excerpts. The entire text can be read here.

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture... We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

This is why whenever I chose to buy used books, I always head to the store located in a small corner of my local branch; a place where I know that much of the proceeds are used to support the library and its programs, and truly, in the grand scheme of things, my community.


Anonymous said...

My library has the keychain card, too and self check-out!

Kara said...

I love the Friends of the Library book sales!! I buy a ton of books from them (in fact I am going to one this weekend). We also have the keychain cards too - great for accessing your account online.

Thanks for this fantastic post on libraries.

Marie Cloutier said...

Wonderful! Our public libraries are our national treasures and the best part is that they belong to all of us, and they need all of us to support them. Thank you for this wonderful post!

Alea said...

I love my libraries too. I know one has self checkout for sure. But I have a normal library card, no keychain action. You can find me at the library book store at least once a week!

J.C. Montgomery said...

Thank you Amy for asking me to share a little on why libraries are so important to me.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to read everyone's comments reflecting how they too love and support their local branches.

The blogging community is a vast one, but in moments like this, I feel that in our hearts and minds we are never that far apart.

I am so glad to be part of something as wonderful as this. Thanks to everyone, and especially to Amy, for helping to keep our community strong and vital.

Tammy said...

Wonderful post! I, too, love my library. Not only do they have a wonderful selection of books, but they also have many DVD's and CD's available for check-out. You can also get ebooks and audiobooks (although they don't have any that work on ipod, bummer). And the interlibrary loan system is great -- the last time I requested a book, I had it in less than a week.

Anonymous said...

We're also fortunate to have a wonderful town library (main library and one smaller branch), plus we're part of an extensive network of libraries in our county, including town/city libraries and some smaller/community/state colleges.

We don't have the key fob system (bummer!), but I do like being able to request books from home. I get an email when they're in, and, crucial to avoiding late fees, an email two days before a book is due.

It sounds like the Biblio Brat appreciates all the library (and the Friends of the Library) do! Thanks for sharing with us ... I bet there are treasures (programs) at every library waiting to be discovered!

Anonymous said...

In Baltimore County, where I live, the library is one of the busiest in the nation -- and for good reason. It's very consumer-friendly, right down to the coffee bar. One interesting program allows kids to bring their dog into the library and read to it. Eliminates some of the self-consciousness, and the kids never have to worry about the dog correcting pronunciation!

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I just left a comment about how I buy a lot of books online, but for sheer volume I think I must get the majority of my books from FOTL used sales. Every time I go I get at least 10, averaging more on 20-30. I think I buy that much online in a year, let alone a month like I do at the FOTL sales.

(There's one happening this Saturday from 10am-4pm at the Main Library downtown, if anyone's in Albuquerque.)
- Anastasia

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