While there is never any question of just how important and necessary reading is to our quality of life educationally, socially and professionally, a question that does pop up from time to time on social media, news and professional sites, and blogs is just how relevant are bricks and mortar libraries in this age of kindles, tablets and IPhones? In my opinion, they remain extremely relevant.
In the last couple of weeks we’ve had the great pleasure of hosting school class visits and one of the things I emphasis to the kids is getting their own library card and making the library a routine destination. However, facilitating those initial visits requires the support and enthusiasm of parents.
My first public library experience was at the Fort Plain Free Library when every Friday night our family would “go to town”. My parents would drop me off on the corner of Willet and River Streets as they headed off to do the grocery shopping at the Red and White. The library director, Miss Charlotte Wetterau, ran a tight ship. The library was always quiet and we spoke in low, reverent tones as befitting her expected solemnity of the place.
What a treat it was to explore among the stacks, pulling off a book here and there, reading the dust jacket and wondering if it were a “keeper” for the week. It was at the Fort Plain Library where I rode across the purple sage with Zane Grey, raced neck and neck with Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and day-dreamed slightly dangerous, mysterious, romantic dreams with Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.
Perhaps you are a foodie and enjoy wandering a seasonal farmer’s market, or maybe fishing is your thing and a Bass Pro Shop is like dying happy and going to heaven. Now that summer has arrived baseball is front and center and who among baseball fanatics does not look forward to a visit to the Hall of Fame, cheering on the Mohawl Valley Diamond Dawgs or the Amsterdam Mohawks? As a reader, visiting the library for me brought those very same feelings of excitement, anticipation, and immense satisfaction. Simply put, I could not wait for Friday nights.
Once my selections were finalized I would take them to the front desk for check out which was no cut dried affair. As Miss Wetterau carefully wrote my name on each card and stamped the date due we would enjoy some conversation. We’d talk about the weather, the books I had brought back, the books I was taking out, and what was going on in town.
Each and every visit required me to take ownership of my responsibility in borrowing materials, articulate my thoughts, speak up with confidence, and look Miss Wetterau in the eye when talking with her while all the time being polite, patient, and respectful. My point is, those kinds of social interactions help a child develop their communication and related interpersonal skills; skills which have very little bearing when downloading an e-book.
Am I anti-technology; of course not. Our library provides public Internet access and as a member of the Mohawk Valley Library System our services include web-based information resources and electronic books. Personally, I email, post to Facebook and Google is my go-to springboard when diving into the World Wide Web. However, there is a time and a place for everything and with so many excellent libraries throughout the
I hope parents will take the time and make a place for their child at a library
of their choosing. Mohawk Valley