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Rowan Public Library celebrates National Library Week

Bookmobile

Submitted photo Children from St. John’s Child Development Center take advantage of RPL’s Bookmobile’s traveling collection and practice their reading skills.

SALISBURY – From the services and expertise they offer to the opportunities for creativity and engagement, 21st century libraries are vital to thriving communities.

This relationship is reciprocal as communities are just as vital to thriving libraries. National Library Week celebrates these connections, the contributions of libraries and library staff, and promotes library use and support. This year’s national observance, sponsored by the American Library Association, runs today through April 15, and the theme is “Libraries Transform.”

In our digital world, it’s a given that institutions must continuously evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the communities they serve. Rowan Public Library has risen to the challenge and provides resources like free internet access, computer labs, technology classes and programs for job seekers; RPL also offers interactive programs that are educational and enriching.

One such example is RPL’s Cooperative Lab, located on the second floor of RPL headquarters in Salisbury. The lab affords people the opportunity to experiment with new technologies, including a 3D printer. Patrons can learn about the tools and how to create their own designs or to commission their own pieces. Each month, the lab hosts a “Maker Monday,” where people can see the 3D printer in action and learn about its process from start to finish.

Abigail Hardison, adult services librarian at headquarters, oversees the Cooperative Lab. She’s observed a diverse range of people attending the Maker Monday events and notes, “Each and every one of them has left wide-eyed with wonder at the possibilities. It’s been a lot of fun for everyone, especially me.”

Additional Maker Monday events will be held April 10 and May 15, both beginning at 6 p.m. They are open to patrons of all ages, and families are welcome. To find out more details, contact Hardison at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or 704-216-8248.

Another vital program is RPL’s Outreach Services, which extends library services throughout Rowan County. The Adult Outreach Services has been a permanent program since 1977, and it allows RPL staff to provide on-site assistance at various meeting centers, lunch clubs and senior care facilities around the county.

“We’re bringing the library to those who cannot easily get here on their own,” Hardison explains. This broader access to RPL holdings includes large print books and DVDs, among other materials.

Many Rowan County daycare centers and preschools use RPL’s Bookmobile and its Stories-to-Go program. Tammie Foster, library associate in the children’s department at East Branch, is well aware of the Bookmobile’s importance.

“The children benefit from the Bookmobile coming on site, where they might not have access to library materials if it didn’t,” Foster says. She notes that even for children with access, the Bookmobile remains a welcome sight. “Even though my daughter Alexis has access to the library, she really enjoys the Bookmobile’s visits to her daycare at First United Methodist Church in China Grove.”

As part of National Library Week festivities, National Bookmobile Day will be observed Wednesday, April 12.

Libraries also offer the gift of imagination and inspiration. This year, all three branches of RPL – headquarters (Salisbury), East Branch (Rockwell), and South Rowan Regional (China Grove) – are hosting a “Special PJ Storytime.” This children’s event is, in part, a follow-up to the “Night at the Library” hosted in March.

Families dropped off a favorite stuffed animal whose nighttime escapades were photographed; RPL will provide free pictures and souvenirs to those families during “Special PJ Storytime.” Headquarters and South Rowan Regional will hold their special storytimes on Monday, April 10, at, respectively, 6:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., with East Branch’s on Tuesday, April 11, at 6 p.m.

At the heart of RPL’s many programs and services are the staff who make these endeavors possible. As the need for information literacy increases, so does the need for traditional librarian skills. The versatility of library staff allows them to enrich the communities where their libraries are.

By offering patrons unlimited opportunities for personal growth and lifelong learning, they level the playing field for any who seek to improve quality of life. On National Library Workers Day, recognized this year on Tuesday, April 11, library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries – school, public, academic and special – across the country each April. For more information about Rowan Public Library, including locations, hours of operation and programs, visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

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