By Stacey Anter
The Library Detective
Have I told you, I LOVE MY JOB?! Being a librarian is so fitting for me. I love reading and writing, I love sharing my enthusiasm for reading and encouraging others to read. I love helping people use the computer to check their email or search for a job. I love hearing how lives have changed because of the library. This week is National Library Week! It’s also School Library Media Month, and April 15th is National Library Workers Day, and April 16th is National Bookmobile Day. One of my favorite books that show just how much libraries change lives is Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco. It’s a story about Aunt Chip, the Triple Creek town librarian, who quits and closes the library because of what she fears has come true: the town has turned away from books and toward their televisions. As a result, all of the townspeople have forgotten how to read. Books are no longer in the library, but they are used for other reasons that might make a librarian cry: books are used as doorstops, to fill in potholes, and most egregiously, used in place of the Triple Creek Dam. When Aunt Chip’s nephew asks her to teach him how to read, she does, and then she teaches all the other kids how to read. They find a book that they want to read but it’s buried in the pile of books holding up the Triple Creek Dam, and, well, you can read the book to find out how it ends. I can say that it is an inspiring tale where the library, and librarian, change lives.
I have heard people express to me how they never used to be a terrific reader, but now they read all the time and they are voracious readers. As a former school librarian, I understand that not everyone automatically becomes a voracious reader; some people are “reluctant readers” who just have difficulty reading for whatever reason. When we were in school, the older we got, the less “fun” reading was for us because we were moving from reading for enjoyment to reading for research. As adults, some of us have forgotten that reading can be enjoyable. For kids who have difficulty reading, I usually suggest that they listen to the audio book version while reading along in the book. Audio books are quite fun for adults, too. I have a friend whose eyesight worsened and he needed a series of eye surgeries, just when he was getting back into reading books. I started bringing him audio books and he’s been hooked ever since. Most audio books are read by actors who tend to give them a new twist with accents and attitude. That’s why I love listening to audio books. I can still read some fascinating and enjoyable books, but I can do it in the car, or while doing something else like going for a walk or doing housework (because No Housework Day was only one day, and it was last week.)
I also love being a librarian because I love solving mysteries (after all, I am the Library Detective.) Whenever someone has a question and I can’t find the answer right away, it becomes a mission. Whether you want to find out how to grow vegetables in the inner city, or if it is legal to have a wild animal as a pet, or which e-reader is best for your needs, or how to cook low fat meals when you are “culinarily challenged” like me, I want to help.
Libraries really do change lives. I remember visiting the Bookmobile every week to pick up some books. As a pre-teen, I picked up my first “grown up” book there: Sue Grafton’s A is for Alibi. I’ve been hooked on mysteries ever since. My favorite book from the bookmobile when I was a kid, however, was the Joy of Signing. I first got interested in sign language in elementary school and whenever possible, I would check out sign language books from the library. The bookmobile and the library instilled in me a love of reading and a love of learning.
Going along with the Aunt Chip theme, Coventry Public Library also has the office for the Literacy Volunteers of Kent County. They can find a literacy volunteer for you if you need one. Reading is one of the most important skills since the dawn of time. Libraries have so much to offer! We have computers for when you need to search for jobs, or do research, or check your email. We also have introductory computer classes at Coventry Library: Basic Computers, Intro to Internet, Intro to Word, Intro to Excel, and Intro to Powerpoint, and Intro to Facebook. Libraries are known as the people’s university. You can learn, or at least begin to learn about anything. We not only have non-fiction books, but we also have access to databases, through AskRI.org, and other specific databases to which Coventry Library (or your local library) subscribes. AskRI has such resources as World Book Encyclopedia Online, articles through EBSCO magazine databases, HertiageQuest genealogical database, African American Heritage genealogical database, Mango Languages, Tutor.com homework help and career tools, Learning Express practice tests and tutorials, A to Z databases for business and employment. AskRI also has an “Ask a librarian” messaging service, as do many other libraries. If you want to email us a question at Coventry Public Library, you can always send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org , or you can go to the Ask a Librarian webform by clicking on the Find Information tab at the top of our homepage, http://www.coventrylibrary.org/.
At Coventry Public Library, we have some great resources as well. We have Ancestry.com (which one patron at a time can access at the library), Access Science (a science encyclopedia), Chilton Library (automotive resources), Encyclopedia Britannica, Gale Legal Forms, Gale Virtual Reference Library (medical and environmental resources), Health and Wellness Resource, MorningStar Investment Research, National Newspaper Index, NoveList, Salem Press Encyclopedia of Energy, Salem Press Health, Salem Press History, Salem Press Science, and we also have Freegal, where you can get 3 free songs per week using your library card.
If you just want something fun to read, watch or hear, we have plenty. We have novels of all genres and age groups, audio books, music CDs, DVDs and we even have Playaways, which are audio books preloaded onto MP3 players. If you have an e-reader, an iPod/iPhone/iPad, or an MP3 player, we can help you download e-books and audio books from our E-Zone. To get to the E-Zone, visit the library homepage and click on the Catalog link. Then click where it says E-Zone Digital Downloads, log in with your library card number, and browse away.
If you feel inspired, come in to the library and tell us how the library has changed your life, or post on your Facebook status, or mention in a Tweet by using the hashtags: #NLW14 and #LivesChange. You can also visit the Coventry Public Library Facebook page and share your experiences. We want to hear from you.
I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about libraries and reading, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.