Rediscover the wonders at your local library
June 4, 2013
By Joe Grove
When teaching high school English, I sometimes worried if we were entering a post-literate age, as there are so many students who don’t like to read or write. Are we going to again see a time when professional scribes carry the burdens and blessings of literacy?
News stories abound containing complaints about barely literate high school and college graduates. Human resource people look at résumés and shake their heads.
Literacy should start at home with parents who read and talk to their children about books. When that doesn’t happen, it leaves children at a disadvantage. To help make this happen, most communities provide astounding resources through free lending libraries.
In the early 1900s, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded 1,689 free public libraries in the United States, as well as many in other countries, including his native Scotland. Communities requesting funds to build Carnegie libraries had to participate in the expense, but the libraries were for public use. This encouraged a trend toward free lending libraries.
I lived for a year in the little town of Eureka Springs, Ark., which had one of the original Carnegie libraries still in operation in its original building.
A century later, King County has an amazing and extensive library system with great facilities here in Issaquah, Sammamish and many surrounding communities.
They have the usual books and magazines one would expect, but they are also up to date on technology, so when I wanted to get a particular book, I looked it up on the Internet and saw the system had 10 copies, reserved one and had it delivered to the Issaquah Library. They also lend CDs, DVDs and audio books. If I had lacked transportation, I could have also accessed their ebooks and had a book downloaded to my ebook reader, or I could have had it delivered to a nearby location with the Library2Go.
When I was puzzled about how to accomplish a particular task on my laptop, I took it to the library for one-on-one instruction. My problem was solved, and I was on my way in mere minutes. The King County libraries are also equipped for use with wi-fi, so I can use my laptop there, or I can use one of their computers.
Weekly, as I proofread the various papers at The Issaquah Press, I see the libraries in our area regularly sponsor programs for children and adults: readings, appearances by authors, book discussions, bilingual story times, teen writer’s groups, study zone, etc.
To see if KCLS has a particular book, go to www.kcls.org/databases. To find an ebook for your children, go to www.kcls.org/kids/ebooks. To find out about mobile library services, go to www.kcls.org/librar2go. For all the library programs and events, go to www.kcls.org.