From Rebecca: Schlow Centre Region Library revisited

Greetings, Joe’s readers. Back in October of 2013 I wrote a post on libraries and Schlow Centre Region Library. I said a lot of good things in that one, so here is the link you can follow if you want to read it too. Since I wrote it I got faster internet at home and stopped using the library for their computers and internet, but I still go there once or twice a week to check out books and CDs. It is still one of my favorite places in the world.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that my mother-in-law might enjoy audio books and I wondered over to that section. Sure enough, Schlow has a large collection to choose from, including a lot of the J.D. Robb series that we both read. I knew about this section before, but until I was looking into them I didn’t appreciate it. It impressed on me one of best features of libraries, that they offer so many different resources and we might not need them for years, but when we do want something, there it is.

The upper level of Schlow contains the audio books, CDs, large print books, young adult novels, graphic novels, books for sale, public computers, helpful staff, non-fiction books, fiction books, a wide range of newspapers and magazines available to read, tables and chairs, two rooms with doors that close to use – one includes materials for crafts, and desks with plugs for people with laptops or who want space to study. The lower level contains the children’s section with computers, fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, helpful staff, graphic novels, and games. Thinking about it, I am amazed by the variety.

Last year, I was looking at books on a return cart and picked up the first novel in an unusual series, Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham. The main character, Fiona Griffiths, has a rare mental condition that she struggles with to do her job on the police force in the U.K. I would never have found this series without seeing it at Schlow. I wanted to read more of these books, so I looked him up in the catalogue, and the library only had the first one. So I did an interlibrary loan request for the second book in the series once I looked up the title (my first time doing an ILL) and waited about a month for it to come in. When I picked up the book, I noticed it had Schlow Centre Region Library identification on it, and looking through it I realized it had the signs of being a print-on-demand book. They might not have been able to find a copy in other libraries. I realized that Schlow bought the book to fill my request and to put in their collection. Wow. I know at least one other person read the first one because it was on the return cart, so I hope that my request helps someone else read the second book, and now the third book. I want to read the rest of the series, but knowing that Schlow would buy the book instead of borrow it, I waited a few months before requesting the third one, and will wait a few months before asking for the fourth one. There are six books in the series and I would feel guilty asking for so much of their resources in a short period of time. I don’t have the space on my shelves or the money to buy the series on my own.

I had already noticed some books on the shelves that looked like print-on-demand (Joe’s books from CreateSpace are print-on-demand so I know the specific look of the back page) and was impressed by the many ways that the library supports all these industries in publishing and entertainment. Yes, we the public use it for free, but the library bought it all. That is a lot of money going into the world, and libraries are constantly having to raise that money – from government sources, from selling books and items donated to them or off their shelves, from local fund drives, from business donations, and from patron donations. They also need to keep the lights on and pay the staff. It makes me proud that I donate two dollars a week; I couldn’t afford to give Schlow a hundred dollars in one go, but by the end of the year my two dollars adds up to that. They do some much for me and the community.

I want to close with one paragraph from my October 2013 post, which sums up what I want to share about libraries in general.

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.

Joe will be back next Wednesday with a new blog entry. Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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