Any library will do.
Now imagine what the library has to offer.
There are books, right? Perhaps shelves of videos, DVDs and CDs, too. Maybe along one wall sits a row of computers.
What else does the library hold?
What services aside from reading hour, circulation and a reference desk does the library maintain?
Reality is reportedly better than the fantasy library.
According to Cleveland Bradley County Public Library Director Andrew Hunt, the local institution has much more to offer than the average resident realizes.
The list is so extensive that programs and services can be separated into eight sections: passive services; children; tweens; teens; reference and adult services; summer reading programming for all ages; other services; and partner programs.
Everyone seems to understand traditional books are at a library. However, the local library also has thousands of downloadable e-books through the Regional eBook & Audiobook Download System. Each patron’s library card number will allow access to the site. Items are then easily downloaded in an e-book format to everything from an iPad to a mobile device with a Kindle application.
Another online reading source is Zinio, a “mobile friendly” magazine service. Patrons with mobile devices and computers can now download up to 49 magazines. These titles include, but are not limited to: ESPN The Magazine; Elle Decore; Food Network Magazine; Golf Tips; National Geographic Interactive; Newsweek; O, the Oprah Magazine; Cosmopolitan; Rolling Stone; Reader’s Digest; Seventeen; US Weekly; and Men’s Health.
Hunt’s next project is to determine how the library can offer online streaming to patrons. The service is not without expense, and will be further explored before a decision is made.
“It would be another service that the library could provide,” Hunt said. “I think the library has a lot to offer through the materials, through the databases, through the programs, like computer classes.”
Additional programs some might be surprised to learn the local library maintains include: one-on-one mobile device assistance; monthly movie nights for various ages; Book Buddies for homebound individuals; boating tests; tax forms; writing clubs for tweens and teens; Lego Club; stargazing; and Teen Zone After Hours.
Additional adult programming covers affordable health care information, couponing, a daytime book club and budgeting and time management services.
Hunt expressed surprise over how many people are missing out on the library’s programs.
“The library is one of the places you can find information. It goes anywhere from entertainment to life help,” Hunt said. “It is not just for the rich, it is not just for the poor, it is for everyone. We try to get the word out about what the library [has to offer].”
Director of Children’s Services Keisha Parks said she would like to see more families and little ones in the children’s department.
Reiterated Parks, “I want families here all the time.”
Programs offered through the children’s department currently include: writing club for ages 9 to tweens; a Pokemon Club; reading hours for preschool and family reading hours on Saturday; Legos Jr. Club; Family Game Time; and Book Chatter for ages 6 to 12.
Librarians in the children’s department listen to what interests their tiny patrons.
Parks said they try to see what is fun, and what is “causing waves” at the national level.
Added Parks, “We read a lot to see what other libraries are doing across the country.”
The Legos Club Jr., Pokemon Club and Scribblers Writing Club were a direct reaction to patrons’ interests.
Parks and her associates try to tie every activity to reading. If the student is attending the Lego Club, then they are introduced to Lego-related books.
She said the children’s department tries to hit what the young patrons need on every level.
“We want our kids to connect with books, but we want them to connect with each other. We want to know what is happening in their lives,” Parks said. “It is pretty social with the teens, but in [the children’s department] it is more, ‘This is what I am reading now,’ and, ‘I am 5 years old, and I can read now.’”
Added Parks with a smile, “Those are good things. Those are real good things.”
Teen services director Nikki Branam said she likes to have teen input on the services offered. This is one reason the Teen Advisory Group was formed. Roughly 10 to 15 teens come regularly to the meetings which take place the first Monday of every month at 4:30 p.m.
The teen patrons then discuss what they want to see happen over the next month. Branam makes it her goal to meet their dreams — within reason.
Explained Branam with a laugh, “If they say let’s make a time machine, then I’m going to have to say no.”
Both Blind Date with a Book and the Zombie Prom have come from the advisory group.
The first found each teen attending the Valentine’s Day-inspired event the recipient of a wrapped book. Each teen took the book home, read it and then rated their “date” at the next meeting.
“They come back and we do a kind of game-style show to rate their date, or book,” Branam said. “We ask them questions like, ‘Would you date another book by this author?’”
The teens recently stayed in the library until midnight for an after-hours event. Branam explained this was to make up for the canceled New Year’s Eve celebration. The young patrons did Zumba before preparing for a night of Olympics-inspired activities.
“It turned into a Smash Brothers battle,” Branam said.
The Teen Advisory Group’s main goal right now is raising $6,000 to create a glass and door enclosure around the Teen Department.
Branam said the noise level can get a little loud, which is not good for the nearby reference section.
Friends of the Library has helped out the cause with a book auction. The teens are currently planning a zombie walk.
“More like a Walk for Life event — a much more sedate pace,” Branam said. “They will be dressed up like zombies. The theme is “‘No books, No brains.’”
Parks, Branam and Hunt encourage the Cleveland and Bradley County community to see what else the library has to offer.
“People think the library just has a bunch of books, but we have so much more. They don’t really know what we have going on,” Branam said. “They just think we are a building of books— and the books are fine. They are kind of my favorite, but the people [are important, too].”
Visit www.clevelandlibrary.org or the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library Facebook for more information.