Summer at the Library

Monday, June 24, 2013

I recently saw the list of 2013 summer activities in DeTour Village, Michigan, where I grew up. The list includes a summer speaker series and family movie nights, both at the library. The library didn't have summer activities when I was growing up. In fact, I'm not sure it was even open in the summer.

The only library in town was the school library, which I notice is now called the DeTour Area School and Public Library. Adults may have been welcomed when I lived there (many years ago), but I never thought of it as a public library. The closest one of those was 60 miles away at Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. We went every two weeks and I checked out the maximum number of books allowed. Even when supplemented with the books in the school library, I always ran out of reading material long before our next trip.

I have fond memories of libraries. When I was a child, they were the source of the books I hungered for. Later, when I was out on my own and living on a small income, libraries helped me feed my habit without spending money I needed for other things.

When my children were young, weekly trips to the library supplemented my growing stock of children's books, and summer programs kept Caroline and John entertained and motivated. Caroline still frequents the library to keep her reading habit affordable.

Of course, things are changing. More and more people--children included--are reading electronic books, but most libraries are keeping up with the times. Caroline frequently borrows electronic books from her small-town library.

Libraries have adapted in other ways, too. They offer computer use and Internet access to people who don't have those resources at home and to people who are travelling away from home.

Then there are the standard services that have stayed the same over the years. Traditional book lending. Quiet areas where people can study and work. Small rooms for group projects. Conference rooms for educational and non-profit activities.

And all those summer programs to keep children excited about reading while they are out of school.

What would we do without libraries? I hope I never find out.

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The picture shows the Lake County Public Library branch in Munster, Indiana.

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