Joe is having dental work today, so you are hearing from me. He may be in some pain today and tomorrow, so the next blog post might be next week.
Libraries have been on my mind lately. I visit my local library, Schlow Centre Region Library, three times a week, and I love it. I use their public computers to be on the internet. I borrow two or three books, and three to four DVDs, from the library every week. I am a regular user. I know a lot of the staff by sight, and they are all nice, patient, and helpful. Someday I hope to have enough extra money to donate to the library that gives me so much.
Libraries have been in my thoughts lately because of two recent news items. The Centre Daily Times issue on September 27, 2013 reported that the East Penn Valley Branch Library in Millheim, Pennsylvania would close the following week, due to budget cuts in the county library system of which they were a part. I feel bad about any library closing, although in this case it is possible there will be a good ending. The community might open it up again on their own after the materials and resources from the library were donated to the Friends of the East Penn Valley Branch Library. And on September 17, 2013, the CDT reported that Schlow Centre Region Library may have to close for a week next year, to off-set money lost from state aid.
Libraries do so much for people. They are sources of information on government agencies, how technologies work, and they have manuals, non-fiction works, plus entertainment materials too. Often the local history archives for the area are in a reference section. They can provide a meeting place for organizations, and often put on events of interest, in a community room. The staff is usually able to assist people in finding information, on databases and websites, as well as navigate through the library system. They have newspapers and magazines available to read on-site, which may be especially helpful to someone looking for a job who cannot afford to buy a newspaper every day. I don’t know about other libraries, but I know that Schlow has made free downloads of ebooks available to patrons, something that costs the library a bite out of their budget for each e-book copy. On top of all that, they provide the latest books by popular authors, sometimes with multiple copies for books with long waiting lists, so that more people can read them sooner. They provide older books too, including the classics. Many people discover authors new to them in the stacks. The libraries have photocopier machines at either the same prices or cheaper than other places. They might also have printing available from the public computers, perhaps with a small fee to off-set the paper and ink costs. A community without a library within an easy visiting distance is poor in ways beyond money.
I remember going to Schlow library when I was a kid in the 1970s. It was called the Schlow Memorial Library then, in honor of the library’s founder, Charles Schlow and his wife Bella S. Schlow. It was, and still is, at the corner of Allen Street and Beaver Avenue. I loved being able to take out any of the books in the children’s section. At that time, there must have been a certain kind of cover for children’s library books, with a textured cover, a certain font, and muted colors, because whenever I hold a book like that now it takes me back to happy memories of books in my childhood. The children’s books were in the room downstairs, and stairs and an elevator led up to the room upstairs with the adult collection. I think there was a check out counter on each floor, or the checkout was downstairs in the lobby outside the children’s collection room. I am just not sure now.
When I was older, I became familiar with the adult collection too. The adult section had the reference books that no one could take out, photocopiers, (computers in the 80s and 90s), maps, records (later with tapes and CDs), and, in the back of the room, the fiction books. The non-fiction section was in a loft area over the fiction section, reached by climbing stairs. If you couldn’t get up the stairs, a librarian was available to get your selection for you. The children section and the adult section each had their own card catalogue, with cards for each book in long trays; a patron would write down the location information on paper provided. Now, of course, the catalogue is on computers.
Schlow went through a couple of renovations in the 70s and 80s. Then sometime before 2004, it was decided to rebuild the building from scratch. As I recall, a long fundraising project raised the funds they needed before they put the plans in motion. In 2004 the library materials and operations were moved to the old borough municipal building while the library building was torn down and the new building built. In 2005 the new library building opened, with the name Schlow Centre Region Library. The children’s collection in still downstairs, with a room with computers and a collection of video games, as well as the books and puzzles. The first floor also holds the circulation desk. The upstairs is the adult collection, non-fiction on the same floor as the fiction section and other resources. If you want to read more about the history of Schlow library go their website at schlowlibrary.org or click this link to their history page on their website. [Oops. The history page link doesn’t go there anymore. It does go to the website, if you want to click it anyway. – 4/24/15]
It all looks different from when I was a kid, but I still get the same warm feeling of home inside the walls.