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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Library Stories

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, October 3, 2010

Since the start of our library levy campaign, I have heard more library stories in 6 months that my entire 35 years of librarianship.


Each one is a wonderful story told with personal conviction, and people are delighted to share their tales with librarians.


A majority of the library stories relate to childhood, some to the fact that your library card is the first responsibility that most children experience.


Several people still have their tattered first library card.


Other childhood memories of a library experience relates to the new worlds opened by a book, and the travels made by the reader by reading a library book.


The sheer wonder of exploring library book stacks with the wealth of knowledge is a memory of many people.


The younger generation remembers their first encounter with computers and the Internet at the library, or searching the online catalog.


Older library users recall the card catalog, a mainstay of most libraries for a century.  Flipping through the drawers of cards leading someone to books is a memory of that generation.


The more poignant stories have the library as a safe haven from a difficult domestic life, where escape into a world of learning helped the person cope with their situation.


Those childhood memories of the library are often related to Summer Reading Club or Story Hours, which date to the opening of the library 110 year ago.


Picnics and parties that conclude Summer Reading Club are a favorite memory.


Some people remember the bookmobile bringing another puzzle or quiz to their rural stop as the summer passed and their list of books read got longer.


A smaller number of library stories relate to someone who discovered the public library as an adult.  Those stories find the individual to be surprised by what is offered by a library facility.


I know that readers are tired of hearing my “last public desk” speech, but the concept has been contained in several library stories.


Public Libraries have become the last place that people can come for help, with a person at a public desk.


Libraries will try to find and answer anything, and we are filling the void of offices that have closed to the public.


Forms and paperwork can be found at the library, or by using library computers, and even transmitted at the library.


Public notaries are available at many of our locations to complete the work.


I was at our Tiltonsville Branch and met with many of their supporters.  That location moved into a new facility in 2000 and usage has more than tripled with the move.

Book Clubs and programs for children and young people take place at the Tiltonsville Branch, and the excitement of people there was overwhelming.


Even a small location like that has access to 6 million items in the 75 libraries connected, with the Internet opening the facility to the world of information.


The importance of the public library to our community is underscored each time I see a child being brought to the library at the hand of a parent, grandparent, aunts and uncles, or a family friend.


Little do they realize the long-term impact that first visits can have on a child.  It can become a routine of visits spanning a lifetime.