Library, National Library Week, Reading, Writing

The Best Public Libraries Stay Current

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I’ve already mentioned the impact that reading had on my life and my professional path. That impact is so powerful that I just had to give one more nod to National Library Week before it ends on April 14.

Last week I talked about the types of books I’ve always gravitated toward when visiting the library. And as I mentioned, my tastes have always remained the same. Well, not the same, exactly. They evolved over time. As they should.

The same is true for libraries. While they’re always going to be the best place to find a good story in any genre, they’ve also evolved to keep up with the changing times.

As we’ve become more and more ingrained in our electronics, many people need an excuse to go to the library. If they want to read, they just rely on e-books – when they can break away from social media, that is. But libraries have answered the call by adding free e-books to their offerings. And the best libraries do so much more to attract today’s busy patrons.

The best libraries are tuned in to what’s going on in their communities and rise to the challenge of meeting those needs. I’ve traveled to and lived in a lot of places and seen a lot of libraries over the years. Two of them stand out as my favorite.

Athens-Clarke County Library in Athens, Georgia is nothing short of top notch. As far as books go, this facility is amazing. In addition to offering a vast selection of titles for adults, ACCL dedicates entire section of its website to serving children and young adult readers with book suggestions for all tastes. Not to mention all the fun activities geared toward bringing young readers to the brick-and-mortar site. Speaking of activities, ACCL also has a stage area dedicated to providing free live entertainment that includes anything from classical and jazz to Celtic and rock on a monthly basis. And oh yeah, there’s a café just inside the door to encourage readers of all ages to enjoy a beverage or snack while getting lost in a book. And I can’t overlook my favorite thing about this library: You can check out a ukulele. A ukulele! How fun is that?

Even all that I’ve mentioned is just a small sampling the ACCL offers for all ages. A prime example of why it’s one of my favorite libraries that’s done an amazing job of remaining such a strong fixture in its community.

The Town of Magnolia Springs Public Library, located in Magnolia Springs, Alabama is my other favorite. Where in the world is that, you wonder? It’s on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, just north of Gulf Shores. If you haven’t been to the area but watched “Hart of Dixie” on the CW or read Fannie Flagg’s “A Redbird Christmas,” you’ll be familiar with it.

This library is small and young, just like the town it’s housed in. But it’s got that special something, which is why it’s the most visited library in its county.

Librarian Alida Foster sets the tone with her bubbly personality and eagerness to help visitors find what they’re looking for. Plus, she opens the door for community members to volunteer in a variety of ways. My favorite is a volunteer program in which youth teach senior citizens how to use computers, smart phones, and other electronic devices. This is brilliant because it both provides a much-needed service while cultivating multigenerational relationships.

This library also holds numerous activities throughout the year that also encourage people to get to know each other. But one of my favorite features is the seed library. Housed in a recycled card catalog, this section boasts all kinds of seed from all over – including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello!

Magnolia Springs Public Library may be small, but its big on keeping up with the times and engaging the community.

Do you have a favorite public library? Share what you love about it in the comment section below.

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