FAIRMONT — In the past two decades, libraries across the country have transformed their programming to become, in essence, community centers.
While libraries still offer printed books for check-out, they have adapted to new technologies and even offer downloadable apps, such as Kanopy and Hoopla, for patrons who have a valid library membership card.
Staff at Marion County’s public libraries celebrated Library Appreciation Week and showed their appreciation to patrons by passing out themed bookmarks and snacks.
On April 7, staff at the Marion County Public Library on Monroe Street in Fairmont hosted their weekly Story Hour and Toddler Time, which focused on animals, their young and the sounds they make.
Library member Lauren Huffman brought her son Parker to Story Hour and Toddler Time because she values the library’s programs.
“I never enjoyed reading — I could never sit still and I regret that now. So, I want to instill that in my kids, so they can grow up and love to read,” Huffman said. “The children’s program here is awesome. They’re very interactive. They bring a lot of classic stories in and I enjoy having my kids experience that.”
Library Outreach Services Manager Abby Haught said the library is keeping up with changing trends and innovations. Today, libraries look different inside than they did 20 or even 30 years ago.
“It’s not just about the material that you can come check out at the library, it’s the materials we provided, it’s the hub for networking in the community. There’s so many resources when people need information from anything from tax forms to research for a college paper,” Haught said.
“The libraries here for you as a free resource to help you out with those.”
Haught oversees the two Book Mobiles, Homebound Delivery and the Wise and Wonderful Program, among other things. The Book Mobiles cycle through a variety of locations including schools and nursing homes and provide library services to people who don’t have access to one of the library system’s facilities.
The Wise and Wonderful Program is offered for patrons 55 and older and focuses on lifelong learning skills. Home Bound Delivery is probably her favorite part of her job, though.
“There’s something really special about being able to pick out items for someone. You get to know them and what they like, you see a new release that they’re going to be excited about. A lot of these people don’t have another way to get these materials, so it’s very meaningful for their lives to get these deliveries,” Haught said.
Libraries also offer a variety of courses, resources and services that people might not know about, Library Public Relations Manager Cara Simms said.
There is a monthly book club for adults, sewing and crafting classes, 3–D printing classes, teen book clubs and a recording studio that can house up to four people, among other things. Most of the classes don’t require a library card, but do require online registration to ensure they are not too full, Simms said.
The future of libraries continues to shift, but employees are sure that they will continue to be a hub for the community, not just for checking out books, but for socializing and having a safe place to spend time.
“It’s one of the few places that doesn’t require you to spend money. It’s a place where you can just come and enjoy your time. You don’t have to worry about ‘Oh, I’m not spending enough money so they’re going to kick me out,'” Simms said.
Next Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Easter Bunny will visit the library for patrons to meet and participate in Easter activities. May 7 is free comic book day. A free comic book giveaway starts at noon and Aquaman will make his rounds around Fairview Public Library from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Mannington Public Library from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Marion County Public Library from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m..
To see and register for all of the events at the library, visit their website here.