"Libraries are more relevant than ever." This statement is the title of an essay by Luis Herrera, director of the San Francisco Public Library, for the New York Times' "Room for Debate" series.
Herrera's and other essays on the future of libraries were published in December to answer the question, "Do we still need libraries?" Despite many people feeling that we can get everything we need on the Internet, we need libraries more because of the Internet, not less.
This point was stressed by Susan Crawford, another of the writers for this series. She stated that for many minorities, the library may be the only access to the Internet they have for applying for jobs, doing homework, getting information about healthcare and more. She said that almost a third of Americans don't subscribe to Internet access at home, quite often because they can't afford it.
Even in our digital age, with all that is available, about seven in 10 library patrons who visited a library over a 12-month period intended to borrow print books or browse the shelves, according to a 2013 Pew Research study. It found that the next biggest categories of library use were researching topics of interest (54%), getting help from a librarian (50%) and using a research database (46%).
Many used the library as an extension of their living room, sitting and reading or studying. It is not just the homeless who do this — many people who live alone enjoy having other people around while they read. Conversely, some who have large families like to come to the library to get more privacy while studying.
I checked out several libraries' list of services. Santa Ana, for instance, has a page on the city library's website that describes the services to be found in its two library branches. Check out what is available at your library.
At the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library
The grand opening of the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library on July 31 was well attended. The new roof beams and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms were a big hit with visitors.
It was also the first day of that library's summer reading program. And the U.S. passport service was up and running at the library as well.
The next children's program is "Flights of Fantasy Story Theater" at 11 a.m. Monday. The program has a unique style of vaudeville storytelling that celebrates the humor and wisdom of multicultural literature, using mime, masks, props and costumes.
On Aug. 19 at 11 a.m., Georgia Frawley will bring her hands-on song program featuring American Sign Language. This playful program of signing and singing will soon have its audience learning and moving with sign language.
Duplo Day, from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 13 and 20, is for children of all ages. It develops concentration and builds math skills and vocabulary. Family Storytime, at 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and 22, incorporates both song and stories.
And for adults, the Romance Book Club will meet at 2 p.m. Aug. 21. Call Samantha at (949) 646-8845 for more information.
At the Mesa Verde Library
The big news at the Mesa Verde Library is that the new branch manager is now on the job. Her name is Tracy Li and she comes to us from a library in Irvine. Stop in and meet her!
The summer reading program is now over at this library, but there are still plenty of activities to attend. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) will bring its well-behaved dogs so children can read to them. Wednesday at 7 p.m. is Pajama Storytime. Preschool Storytime and Craft will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 20. And from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 21, it is Crafternoon time for arts and crafts.
At the Costa Mesa Technology Library
For those of you who may have missed earlier announcements, the Tech Library has moved to a small shopping center on the northwest corner of Fairview Road and Wilson Street. I think I have mentioned before that the new branch manager there is Nadejda Iotova. Stop by to meet her and check out the new location.
MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa branches of the OC Public Libraries.