Top 5 With...Bru Baker

Friday January 20, 2017

Top 5 (Surprising) Services Libraries Offer by Bru Baker

If you aren't using your local library, you're missing out on a lot more than the latest James Patterson release. Libraries are vibrant microcosms of the community and a great place to do a lot more than just read.  I've always been an avid library user, but before I started working for one even I didn't realize just exactly how many services local public libraries offer.

  1. Libraries deal in information. Gone are the days that libraries were  just repositories for books.  Today's librarians are ninjas schooled in the delicate art of Google-fu, and we have access to databases that are a goldmine of obscure information, too. You can ask us anything. In any given day, I'm part Siri, part news aggregator, and part tech guru. Oh, and I recommend books, too.
  2. Libraries bring the community together. Most libraries have multiple programs daily, and it's not just story time for preschoolers.  A few of the things my library has offered lately:  tech clubs for tweens, genealogy workshops, health and wellness seminars,  cake decorating classes, knitting clubs, monthly movie screenings, and even trivia nights.
  3. Libraries offer a lot of digital content. Most libraries, even branches in small communities, offer ebooks these days. Many also have options for streaming media (my library uses Hoopla, which has most of Dreamspinner's catalog available to borrow!) so you can stream books, movies, and music for free.  And it's not just books and music. A lot of libraries offer access to magazines online with apps like Zinio as well as a wealth of databases that can provide 24/7 access to a ton of information and even online classes.
  4. Libraries connect people to resources. In the age of WiFi and smart phones most of us take access to the Internet for granted. It can be difficult to navigate the world without it—which means people who don't have it can really struggle. Libraries provide computers and Internet access for patrons. I have an eighty-three-year-old patron who comes in for help with his online dating profile!
  5. Librarians love questions. We deal in information, remember? Librarians love it when you approach the desk and ask for help, even if it's as obscure as figuring out how much the antique porcelain doll you inherited from your great aunt is worth. We love a good challenge! And if you've reached the end of your favorite book series and need recommendations about what to read next? Be still my heart. You'll be my favorite question of the day.

Do you love libraries? What's your favorite thing about your local branch?