If your childhood memories of the library conjure images of dusty books, stern librarians and drab surroundings, then it might be time to revisit your local public library.
Today’s libraries are often community hubs, where children can create arts &crafts projects, adults can surf the internet and teens can hang out and discuss books or get help with homework.
In South Snohomish County, the Sno-Isle Regional Library System has libraries right in your neighborhood — Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mill Creek, Brier and Mountlake Terrace. In North King County, Shoreline, Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park are part of the King County Library System. Each library tailors its programming to the community it serves. While tax dollars provide the foundation for these services, it is often “Friends of the Library” groups who volunteer time to raise supplemental funds for their neighborhood library when public resources are in short supply.
Here’s a sample of what you can find at your local library:
Information resources. First and foremost, all libraries serve a common purpose: free access to information resources. Both local library systems offer not just books, but videos, books on tape, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, magazines and CD-ROMs. Computer stations offer not only access to the library catalog, but provide access to the Web, search databases and software programs such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Publisher. Several libraries, like those in Mill Creek and Lake Forest Park, offer free classes in computer basics.
Children’s activities. Storytimes are a regular part of local library schedules, and are usually geared to specific age groups and attention spans. Arts &crafts classes are a big draw for libraries and usually center around holiday or theme projects.
Teen activities. Some libraries, such as Richmond Beach, offer after-school homework assistance programs. Lynnwood Library has a writing group for teens, and several host book clubs for teen and pre-teen patrons.
Adult activities. Book clubs, computer classes, job search resources and lecture series are all available to adult patrons. English as a Second Language classes are offered at several libraries, including Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline and Richmond Beach, as are study aids for GED, U.S. Citizenship and Adult Basic Education. Free tax help can be found during tax season, when some libraries coordinate with groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Arts &entertainment. The arts feature prominently on library calendars, with any number of free music, theater and dance performances and author nights throughout the year. A scrapbooking group regularly meets at the Lynnwood Library. The Edmonds and Lynnwood libraries are among those who feature art exhibit space and curate shows with their respective city arts commissions.