Li­brary of­fers more than a good read

The Gar­land County to a Li­brary dances new tune, of­fer­ing me­dia classes & dig­i­tal

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - News -

Anew re­port by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter in­di­cates free ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy in pub­lic li­braries is as im­por­tant to Amer­i­cans aged 16 and older as printed books and ref­er­ence ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to Gar­land County Li­brary staff, lo­cal pro­gram­ming is in step with those emerg­ing national trends.

“We’re not just your grand­mother’s li­brary any­more,” says Di­rec­tor John Wells. “Yes, we still of­fer tra­di­tional ser­vices – like print books, mag­a­zines and re­search col­lec­tions – which have been the back­bone of our sys­tem for gen­er­a­tions. Now, we are en­larg­ing our vi­sion to in­clude the in­creas­ingly broader ex­pec­ta­tions of our com­mu­nity. When it comes to tech­nol­ogy, how­ever, most pa­trons are sur­prised at the wide range of op­tions al­ready avail­able to them.”

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy com­prises one whole sec­tion of the Gar­land County Li­brary web­site. “Th­ese days, a li­brary card and pin num­ber be­comes a vir­tual win­dow to the world,” says Adam Webb, adult and tech­ni­cal ser­vices li­brar­ian.

“For most pa­trons, the added value of be­ing a li­brary card holder in­cludes priv­i­leges ac­ces­si­ble from any­where through the li­brary’s web­site.

“Our pa­trons can browse dig­i­tal ver­sions of mag­a­zines through a ser­vice called Zinio on their lap­tops, tablets or smart­phones. In­di­vid­ual in­vest­ment re­search is avail­able through the li­brary’s sub­scrip­tion to Morn­ingstar. Doit-your­self me­chan­ics can take ad­van­tage of our sub­scrip­tion to Chilton’s Re­pair Man­u­als,” he said.

“A par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar topic is ge­neal­ogy re­search, avail­able through a va­ri­ety of por­tals on our site. And we pro­vide ac­cess to a plethora of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion classes on a num­ber of top­ics, in­clud­ing homeschool­ing, dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, spe­cialty cook­ing and com­puter tech­nol­ogy.”

At the li­brary it­self, card hold­ers can check out DVDs, com­puter soft­ware and videos for one-week pe­ri­ods. Print books and Play­away au­dio de­vices pre­loaded with e-books may be checked out for three weeks. Fish­ing en­thu­si­asts may bor­row from a se­lec­tion of rods and reels (Yes, you read that cor­rectly!) pro­vided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion, avail­able from the chil­dren’s sec­tion of the li­brary.

“One of the most pop­u­lar ben­e­fits on­site at the li­brary is our lap­top com­puter loaner pro­gram, avail­able to card­hold­ers to use up to four hours a day,” says Webb.

“Also in­side the li­brary, pa­trons may ‘try be­fore they buy’ any of a va­ri­ety of dig­i­tal tablet de­vices. We have one of nearly ev­ery­thing that’s avail­able from the big box stores. But what we’ve dis­cov­ered is that most peo­ple want an op­por­tu­nity to ex­per­i­ment and com­pare de­vices in a no-pres­sure-to-buy set­ting. Af­ter we spend time help­ing them get com­fort­able us­ing a par­tic­u­lar for­mat – like Nook, Kin­dle or iPad – they usu­ally end up buy­ing their own de­vice so that they can down­load dig­i­tal books di­rectly from our li­brary site, but from the con­ve­nience of their home.”

Tiffany Hough, youth ser­vices li­brar­ian, says her di­vi­sion also makes Nin­tendo DS units and games avail­able for in-house use. “Our Nin­tendo Club, which is open to all ages, meets ev­ery Wed­nes­day from 5-7 p.m.”

This sum­mer, Hough’s staff co­or­di­nated and su­per­vised 120 chil­dren’s pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties in an eight-week pe­riod.

“We con­sider it a priv­i­lege to pro­vide a rich va­ri­ety of low-cost or no-cost pro-

“We’re not just your grand­mother’s li­brary any­more…Now, we are en­larg­ing our vi­sion to in­clude the in­creas­ingly broader ex­pec­ta­tions of our com­mu­nity.”

John Wells

Di­rec­tor Gar­land County Li­brary

gram­ming for the chil­dren of our com­mu­nity. It used to be we were slammed with ac­tiv­i­ties only dur­ing the sum­mer, but ev­ery­thing slacked off when school started. Now, we have a steady stream of pro­grams all year long.” This fall, Paws to Read be­gins again. “Or­ga­nized by Hot Springs Pet Ther­apy, this pro­gram was orig­i­nally de­signed to help chil­dren with read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties im­prove their skills by putting them in a re­laxed set­ting where they can read aloud to ther­apy dogs – who lis­ten with­out judg­ment. Thanks to gen­er­ous vol­un­teers, the highly suc­cess­ful pro­gram is now open to all kids who want to par­tic­i­pate.”

Be­gin­ning Sept. 28, card­hold­ers aged 12 and younger will be able to check out Hal­loween cos­tumes. “We have about 200 do­nated cos­tumes in our col­lec­tion now, all gra­ciously cleaned at no charge by John­son Clean­ers,” says Hough. “Next year, we hope to add sizes for teens.”

Spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties at the li­brary are not limited to chil­dren. “Through­out the year, we ro­tate classes,” Wells said. “We’ve had ev­ery­thing from tai chi and yoga to belly danc­ing and Zumba, square danc­ing to Ir­ish reels. Richard Stephens’ wa­ter­color classes are al­ways pop­u­lar, as are the adult gui­tar classes and craft ses­sions. And plenty of folks re­ally like our blue­grass jam ses­sions, held in the li­brary’s au­di­to­rium each month on the first Thurs­day evening from 5:30-7:30 p.m.”

Webb says the big­gest change he’s no­ticed in pa­tron be­hav­ior is the ques­tions they ask. “It used to be things like, ‘When is Grover Cleve­land’s birth­day?’ Now, it’s more like, ‘How do I do this or that with my smart­phone.’ The good news is, even though the ques­tions have changed, we’re still here to help.”

Zak Cabibi-Wilkin, 11, and Matthew Cabibi-Wilkin, 13, dance with Wii, at the Gar­land County Li­brary dur­ing a rcent Dance Gam­ing ses­sion.

Par­tic­i­pants in the Blue Grass Jam ses­sion at the Gar­land County Libary gather around on Aug. 1.

Avery Ilen­feld, 5, of Hot Springs pets a fawn af­ter Thomas Young, Arkansas Na­tive Plant & Wildlife Cen­ter di­rec­tor and or­nithol­o­gist and mas­ter fal­coner, teaches chil­dren about wild an­i­mals in a pre­sen­ta­tion at the Gar­land County Li­brary June 20, 2012.

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