If you've spent much time at the local public libraries in Hampton Roads, you know that they are about far more than reading the inventory of books and magazines confined within their brick-and-mortar walls.
Today's libraries not only provide a whole slew of services—from family-friendly events and learning/networking opportunities to tax and notary services and mobile units—but they now digitally connect to their patrons in multiple ways.
Via websites, patrons can check their accounts for overdue books and fines, and place holds on books, both paper and digital. They can download materials through third-party vendors such as Overdrive for books, Zinio for magazines and Freegal for music.
Via social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, patrons can interact with staff and each other, and discover what events are taking place at their libraries, most of which are low or no cost to card-carrying members.
"A library card is a passport to lifelong learning," is how Elizabeth Tai, director of the Poquoson Public Library, expressed library membership. Tai said libraries pick up where school textbooks end, and she has made it a priority to make sure local community members, especially students, know the value of their library.
She encourages readers to investigate programs and services listed in their monthly newsletter, "Bookmarks," which can be found both at the library and online. In addition, Poquoson library staff and board members visit schools during back-to-school nights to provide information about library services and recruit students to sign up for cards.
Kevin Smith, director of York County's library system, has similar goals. "My personal mission is that every high school student in York County has a library card," Smith said.
He has visited local high schools to let students know of the many educational resources available remotely. Included is access to Atomic Training by RB Digital. The training provides online tutorials for more than 300 popular software applications, such as Excel and Photoshop, Twitter and blogging, even how to use your iPhone and iPad. To access, go to rbdigital.com/yorkva/atomic.
At the Mathews Memorial Library, Director Bette Dillehay has reached out to teens as well. Concerned that teen space in the library was underused, she worked with the library's teen advisory council to get feedback. She sent out a survey, asking students to complete the statement, "I would use my public library more often if…." For their efforts, respondents were issued library cards.
The library is also preparing to open a new area just for teens, she said. "The need for teen space has not always been recognized, and usually it's a very boring space where teens don't feel welcomed," Dillehay said. "When we decided to add more space to the library, it was our goal to concentrate on teens….We want them to take advantage of it."
Teen Territory is expected to open in Mathews in mid-October.
The Hampton Public Library also offers remote access to services as well as onsite programs and classes for patrons of all ages. Of special note is the library's support of adult literacy through a collaboration with the Peninsula READS program, whose mission is "to provide adults the opportunity to attain the literacy skills necessary to participate fully in society," according to the program's website.
Resources and programs include books, audios and videos to assist with basic literacy, ESL, GED and more. For more information, go to http://www.peninsulareads.com.
Volunteers tutor in basic literacy and ESL, and computer-assisted practice is available in a number of disciplines—including reading, writing, grammar and punctuation. To learn more about the literacy program at the library, go to hampton.gov/index.aspx?NID=1267.
Sign up September
Why the push for library cards? The American Library Association designated September as Library Card Sign-up Month. It's never too late to get a card, but most local libraries have special events planned. Here is a sampling:
The Newport News Public Library System has a sign-up celebration going on, according to an email from Karen Gill, library community relations and programs coordinator. "Children ages birth to 11 years old who sign up for a library card at Main Street Library (110 Main Street) will be treated to a mini-celebration and take-home goodies." Call 591-5858 for information.
Those who love used book sales will want to mark their calendars for the upcoming used book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Newport News Public Library. From Oct. 24-26 at the West Avenue Library, 2907 West Ave., readers can browse through multiple categories of books and other media, with prices ranging from 25 cents to $3. For information, send email to email@example.com.
Program Services Director Patrick Golden of the Williamsburg Regional Library wants readers to know about a special commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Triple Crown victory by Secretariat, Virginia's own super-star thoroughbred.
The celebration kicks off with the Thursday Afternoon Movie Series. Every Thursday at 2 p.m., beginning Oct. 1 and continuing through the month, films featuring horse racing will be shown at the Williamsburg Library Theatre, 515 Scotland St. Scheduled, in this order, are: Marx Bros. classic "A Day at the Races" (1937), "Secretariat" (2010), "Champions" (1984), "Seabiscuit" and ending on Oct. 31 with "Francis Goes to the Races" (1951).
To complete the event, on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the library will host "Secretariat's Meadow—The Land, The Family, The Legend," a program about Secretariat's historic birthplace in Hanover County.
The Blackwater Regional Library, which services the greater area of Isle of Wight, Franklin, Southampton, Surry and Sussex, is trying something new this year: a virtual library card for accessing only electronic resources, such as ebooks and databases. According to Library Director Yvonne Hilliard-Bradley, in the past, parents have expressed concerns about students being liable for overdue fines. The virtual card erases that concern because virtual card holders won't be permitted to borrow print materials.
"Some of our schools have lost some of the databases due to the cost, so we're making them particularly accessible by saying you can access all our electronics (but) you don't have to worry about fines. This particular card doesn't check out print materials. Of course you can always get the card that does. We're hoping students will take advantage of this," Hilliard-Bradley said.
A cruise through the Gloucester County Public Library website reveals events scheduled for all ages, including classes and clubs. You'll also find information about available library resources, links to county government information, and a PDF entitled "52 Ways to Use your Library Card." To check them out, go to gloucesterva.info/library.
Leah Price blogs about the local writing community and is always on the lookout for what's new. If you have a new release or an upcoming event you'd like to share, contact Leah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 247-4745.
Want your own library card?
Blackwater Regional Library: Nine branches including Smithfield, Surry and Carrollton. 653-0298. blackwaterlib.org/policies/#Lib Card.
Hampton Public Library: Five branches located throughout the city. 727-1154. hamptonpubliclibrary.org
Gloucester County Library: Main Branch, 6920 Main St., Point Branch, 2354 York Crossing Drive. 804-693-2998. gloucesterva.info/library.
Mathews Memorial Library: 251 Main St. 804-725-5747. mathewslibrary.org/library-services/your-library-card.
Newport News Public Library System: Five branches located throughout the city. 597-2917. nnpls.libguides.com/librarycards.
Poquoson Public Library: 500 City Hall Ave. 868-3060. poquoson-va.gov/library and select "Get a library card" at the bottom of the page
Williamsburg Regional Library: James City County Library, 7770 Croaker Road; Williamsburg Library, 515 Scotland St. 259-7753 or 259-4070. wrl.org/sign-reserve-pay/sign/get-library-card.
York County Library: Yorktown branch, 8500 George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17); Tabb branch, 100 Long Green Blvd. 890-3377 or 890-5100. yorkcounty.gov/library/Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun