While CADL has used many technologies to bring in more patrons, such as printing and faxing services, free WiFi at each location, a digital library and digital options, one of the biggest changes it has made was to increase community involvement. Instead of just a place to come for books and to study, the library has increased its services and events to provide for people of all ages, for a wide variety of activities.
“One trend we see is that, more and more, people view and use the library as a gathering place, or as a place just to come and ‘be.’ So far this year, we have seen close to 60,000 people at library programs and another 75,000 at our events out and about in the community,” said Associate Director of Public Service Jolee Hamlin.
The community events are diverse. There is something for just about every stage of life. Every branch hosts storytimes, which are times for toddlers to come and listen, play, dance, or do whatever is on the agenda for the week. There are quiz teams, movie and game nights, and studios to learning building or crafting techniques for youth and teens. For adults and seniors, there are book clubs and events that allow them to get out of the house and relax with other adults, such as coloring nights and film series.
Some of these events have even brought in authors.
“This past summer we had Newbery- and Geisel-winning author Kate DiCamillo. She’s a super inspiring speaker who aptly and powerfully was able to connect with both the children and adults in the audience,” said Julie Chrisinske, head librarian at CADL’s Williamston branch. But most events are more personal, bringing members of the community together to meet new people and try new things.
Johnston said that the Mason branch has changed her life. “I have been going to some of the adult stuff the library offers, and it amazes me how many people I didn’t know in a small town like Mason. I have a reason to be social and so many new friends because of it.”There are also events hosted through CADL that have a direct impact in the lives of residents. One service is providing free computer and Internet access for resume and application work, as well as mock interviews, to patrons working toward employment. CADL has also taken a role in lending a hand to refugees in the area.
“A favorite day is when we are able to introduce refugees to library services, including language instruction programs and offering them a library card, with all its benefits,” said Hamlin.
Long gone are the days when these libraries only provided books to card holders. With so many more options, CADL has taken an active role in the communities it serves, providing events, services and many different ways to access books, movies, music and information.
“We hear from some folks that we serve that the library and its resources are a lifeline to them,” said Hamlin. “It’s one we are so glad to provide.”