By Rick Palsgrove
The modern library is a place where printed books and electronic digital formats blend together to offer readers a variety of options in which to freely gather knowledge.
“The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has responded strongly to our patrons’ expectations for digital offerings, but we’re also still in the book business here at the library,” said David Dennison, manager of the Reynoldsburg Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
The digital age
Dennison said the Reynoldsburg library has 41 public personal computers – three for kids’ use and 38 for adults to use, including 10 in the library’s Life Skills Center where people use them to apply for jobs, create resumes, do research and school assignments and practice computer skills.
The library also offers a large collection of digital e-books, e-audio books, free Wi-Fi, DVDs, CDs, and online streaming of music and movies.
“We also offer an e-Reader workshop once a month to help guide people through the process of learning how to use their hand held digital devices,” said Dennison. “We also offer basic computer classes.”
Dennison said the library’s digital offerings are growing.
“We expect more growth, too,” said Dennison. “We’re always adding titles.”
He said the library has 50 online research databases that all ages can use to find information on all kinds of topics from auto repair to history to professional journals to periodicals to legal forms and much more.
“There’s also the WorldCat database, which enables the user access library information from the all over the world,” said Dennison. “People come to the library for information and we strive to provide information in any container our customers want. We want to have a broad offering of options.”
Printed materials still thrive
Dennison said the Reynoldsburg Branch Library contains tens of thousands of books and other printed materials.
“The printed book has been around in some form for a 1,000 years,” said Dennison. “It’s going to survive a long time. Many people still prefer reading the printed page and the demand for printed material is stable and even growing. There’s a quote I like that goes, ‘Digital products won’t replace books any more than elevators replaced stairs.’ There’s a place for both.”
One way the library is making popular books in print more accessible is its Quick Picks program, which places a supply of high demand books, that normally readers may have to wait for on a reserve list, on display for browsers to look at and check out right away.
The library also keeps print readers in mind by maintaining a quiet area of tables and chairs where a person or group may take their materials to read and study.
The library and the community
“The Columbus Metropolitan Library is invested in the community,” said Dennison. “The library wants to help build a thriving community. Reading and literacy form the foundation of a good life and good education. We partner with schools and groups to ensure this for people of all ages and economic status.”
Dennison noted the library’s Young Minds Strategy as one example that illustrates this community building. Under this program, the library helps prepare children for kindergarten and assists students with getting ready for the state’s third grade reading test.
Walking through the library, one can see it is a place where people of all ages gather in a contemplative atmosphere to discover and explore the world of knowledge to be found in its stacks of books and banks of computers.
“We encourage people to visit the library or visit columbuslibrary.org to become familiar with all we have to offer,” said Dennison. “We’re here to help.”