More Than Books

Cape Coral Living - - Radar - BY KALYN BROOKE

There’s some­thing about Cape Co­ral’s North­west Re­gional Li­brary that makes you want to curl up in a cor­ner with a good book and live there. Parts of the li­brary haven’t changed―a quiet place to read and study―but much has, both in the way li­braries now op­er­ate and how users con­tinue to adapt. In to­day’s dig­i­tal cul­ture, one even won­ders if li­braries have a place in the com­mu­nity at all. Re­gional man­ager Maria Pala­cio de­fends the space as more of a com­mu­nity gath­er­ing place, open­ing in 2009 to ac­com­mo­date the Cape’s rapid ex­pan­sion into north­ern neigh­bor­hoods, “which makes us the go-to place for in­for­ma­tion, study­ing and com­mu­nity,” she says. Aside from books, DVDs and mu­sic avail­able as part of the Lee County Li­brary Sys­tem, this par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion of­fers fun pro­grams such as col­or­ing for adults, book dis­cus­sions, mu­si­cal per­for­mances, English lan­guage classes and help with tech­nol­ogy, among oth­ers. And the best part is that events are free to res­i­dents. “The Lee County Li­brary Sys­tem has al­ways tried to of­fer new pro­grams and ser­vices in an ef­fort to meet the needs of our grow­ing and di­verse pop­u­la­tion,” Pala­cio adds. Rather than have the county fund these par­tic­u­lar pro­grams, Cape Friends of the Li­brary vol­un­teers work be­hind the scenes to sup­port events be­yond the li­brary’s lim­ited bud­get. Friends vol­un­teer Linda Can­teu, for in­stance, thor­oughly en­joys help­ing out at the North­west Re­gional lo­ca­tion. “We have monthly meet­ings to talk about the li­brary’s in­di­vid­ual needs and pro­grams,” she says, “then co­or­di­nate with li­brary staff to make it hap­pen. Our sole pur­pose is to sup­port the li­brary.” In ad­di­tion to unique li­brary pro­grams, an­other huge perk is wire­less ac­cess. Clau­dia West, a Lee County ref­er­ence li­brar­ian over the past 20 years, loves how the li­brary pro­vides in­ter­net and com­puter ac­cess for its users. “Not ev­ery­one,” she says, “is fi­nan­cially able to have their own com­puter or in­ter­net. The li­brary helps even out that play­ing field.” The li­brary's web­site also al­lows 24/7 ac­cess for pa­trons us­ing the many elec­tronic data­bases to con­duct re­search. They can also down­load books, mu­sic and stream movies—many of which are new re­leases—from plat­forms such as Over­drive, Free­gal, Hoopla and more. But if all that tech­nol­ogy sounds more like a huge learn­ing curve, Pala­cio re­minds res­i­dents that “the staff is al­ways ready and will­ing to help an­swer ques­tions, lo­cate a resource, and show users how to down­load these items or ac­cess them online.” Although the tra­di­tional role of the li­brary has changed over time, these pub­lic spa­ces con­tinue as bea­cons of in­for­ma­tion for shar­ing and learn­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, the North­west Re­gional lo­ca­tion re­mains an in­dis­pens­able resource for the Cape Co­ral com­mu­nity.

Sur­pris­ing perks at Cape's North­west Re­gional Li­brary

Kalyn Brooke is a writer and blog­ger liv­ing in Cape Co­ral.

North­west Re­gional Li­brary

519 Chiq­uita Blvd. N. Cape Co­ral 239-533-4700 lee­­brary

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