National Library Week highlights importance

By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

April 15, 2014

DARKE COUNTY – There are libraries in most towns in Darke County, and they all serve similar purposes, to educate people, and to provide resources, and even entertainment.

Over the years it has been a race to keep up with the constant changes in technology, with ever-increasing budgetary concerns, library directors agreed.

“With our limited budget…one of the bigger challenges is what to choose, out of the vast array of options, and having the money to be able to afford the choice you make,” said John Vehre, director of the Greenville Public Library.

Darke County libraries are beginning to offer electronic books, for patrons to read on their mobile devices; no paper books to carry, no worry of late fees, and a large variety of books keep people coming back.

“I have to say I am so thankful for the eBooks I get from the library app on my Kindle/phone!” Cassi Rehmert, a Greenville resident and mom of two, said. “My son and I read books together all the time. Its great bonding time with my children. Then after bed time I get mommy time reading books. I love the fact I can feed my reading addiction without leaving my home!”

Libraries offer many other important community services, though, including summer reading programs, after school activities, and adult programming. Many Darke County libraries have added a Lego Club to their list of after school activities, serving the imaginations of children of all ages, said Brenda Miller, director of New Madison Public Library.

Ohio libraries will hold a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) themed summer reading program, Miller reported, allowing students to not only explore literature, but also STEM-related topics, including scientific experiments, she said.

Meme Marlow, director of Worch Memorial Library in Versailles, said that Worch will be trying different experiments throughout the summer for their younger patrons, as well as an adult reading program.

Many libraries are working in conjunction with the Darke County Job and Family Services to provide basic computer classes, as well.

“Technology plays an important role in this time, because of the way job searches are done, especially,” said Marlow. “We offer one-on-one computer classes for anyone interested, as well…I think, personally, libraries are just as important as schools in the community. Libraries allow access to materials not everyone has access to, so as a whole, we’re providing information to our community.”

Providing access to reference and entertainment materials is the library’s main objective, but they’re also working to provide access to technology for their patrons. Greenville Public Library may have the stronghold on the number of units available for use, with 24 computer stations, but according to Miller, New Madison Public Library is working to add laptops for patrons to be able to use in the facility, but space is an issue, she said.

Despite the challenges that libraries face every day, they are still a thriving, central part of any community; they offer programs for patrons of all ages, and library staff is willing to help patrons in whatever ways they can, one patron commented. Greenville Public Library will soon offer a community seed bank, where members of the community can take seeds to plant, as well as information on how to preserve the seeds at the end of the season to bring back to the seed bank, visit the Greenville Public Library for more information.

April 13-19 is National Library Week, and area residents are encouraged to check out their local library to see what’s new, whether that’s in person or on the web.