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Let me tell you what I love about libraries

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

Library Card Sign-up Month is underway at libraries nationwide, and Rowan Public Library’s recent preparation for our celebration has had me pondering what libraries have meant in my life.

To put it mildly, they’ve meant a lot.

I love libraries — I always have. The sight of neatly organized shelves, tables arranged for study and conversation, and quiet study carrels (which were usually my favorite spots) have always filled me with a quiet joy. Even the smell of libraries makes me happy.

For me, libraries represent knowledge and freedom. I grew up without the Internet and mostly without chain bookstores, so visiting the library and getting access to new books or magazines to read and new films to watch was amazing. I cherished those opportunities.

Even now, one of my favorite things to do when traveling is to visit libraries — they reveal so much about the local communities. When examined altogether, the content of un-curated flyer collages on community boards, the themed displays, the advertised programs and events, and even the aesthetic arrangement tell a story about what that particular library does. And that’s a story that I always enjoy reading.

Libraries and communities enjoy a reciprocal relationship in so many ways. Libraries are constantly in a state of change as they evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve. They develop programs, acquire resources, and strive to inspire — and all in ways that will contribute to the quality of life for the communities of which they are a part.

Throughout this constant evolution, though, one of the core tenets remains one of the most vital: Libraries are bigger on the inside.

One of my favorite “Doctor Who” episodes is “Silence in the Library” (reboot series 4, episode 8) — not only because it introduces River Song, but also because the entire planet is a library.

The. Entire. Planet.

Imagine that for a second. The concept makes me both giddy with excitement and a little sad — I’d never be able to read my way through an entire, continent-sized section or view every display.

Though our physical libraries may not be planet-sized, they still hold worlds of knowledge. And our engagement with those resources allows us to travel through time and space – without necessarily having to delve into the “big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff,” as Ten (David Tennant) puts it.

So, whether you frequent the Headquarters, East or South Rowan Regional branches of Rowan Public Library, you can explore lost worlds with books like David Grann’s nonfiction “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.” Or, you can travel back in time with stories like Erik Larsen’s historical narrative about the Chicago World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes in “The Devil in the White City.”

Those who prefer fiction can delve into countless worlds that range from Harry Potter to the estates of Jane Austen’s novels to the dystopian world of a post-Yellowstone super volcano eruption.

For those who enjoy films, RPL’s ever-expanding film collection may hold something of interest: It houses recent releases, classic cinema and documentaries, among other genres.

Book-to-film adaptations are a perennial favorite. For example, Grann’s book has been adapted into the film “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam, which is on order for RPL’s circulating collection.

“Doctor Who” is an example of a topic that transcends resource genres: RPL has several classic and reboot episodes on DVD, graphic novels, nonfiction books about the show, and even Justin Richards’ “Time Lord Fairy Tales.”

Remember, too, that many items in RPL’s circulating collection can be sent to your branch of choice. So, if you live in China Grove and want to check out “Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor” but find it’s only available at the Headquarters branch in Salisbury, you can place the item on hold and have it sent to South Rowan Regional for pick-up. This is a great convenience that I personally make use of on a regular basis.

For those who want to explore digital resources, researchers can quickly fall down the rabbit hole, traveling from database to database, searching out the articles and eBooks and other materials that are of interest to them.

Some customers express a lack of confidence in their skill at navigating online resources; if you’re in this group, I encourage you to take some time just to practice. Getting familiar with the way online resources work is imperative to feeling more confident. And, if you get stuck, call or visit your nearest branch for assistance.

The libraries in our lives allow us to explore universes galore — a fact I’ll always be grateful for, despite my eternal disappointment that I’ll likely never have the opportunity to explore them via a Tardis.

If you haven’t been to the library lately, Library Card Sign-up Month is the perfect time to do so. For more information about Rowan Public Library, its locations, services, and resources, please visit                 www.RowanPublicLibrary.org

Baby Time: Birth-23 months. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Toddler Time: 18 to 35 months. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.; South, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschoolers: 3-5 years. Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Mondays, 10 a.m.

Noodlehead Storytime: Pre-K to fifth grade. Interactive storytime. Headquarters, Thursday, 4 p.m.; East, Tuesdays 3:30 p.m.; South Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m.

Art programs: Pre-K to fifth grade. Learn art terms, techniques and work on art projects; 30-45 minutes. Art in the Afternoon, headquarters, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; Bethany’s Brushes, East, Tuesdays, 4 p.m.; Canvas Kids, South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: 7 to 9 years old. Children can practice reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Canine listeners provided by Therapy Dogs International. Headquarters, selected Tuesdays, 4 p.m. Call 704-216-8234 for details. East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m., Call 704-216-7842 for details. South, by appointment only. Call 704-216-7728 for details.

Teen programs are open to sixth- through 12th-graders who are 11-18 years old.

Chapter Chats: Weekly book club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. Resumes Sept. 11, 5 p.m. at East Branch, Rockwell. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Random Fandom: Celebrate your favorite fandoms with a mix of trivia, craft projects and film screenings. September fandom is DC/Marvel. Headquarters, Sept. 12, 4:30 p.m.

Give Back Saturdays: Help us give back to the community through various crafts and projects, which we’ll donate to local charities. Teens can count participation to meet community service requirements for school or other organizations. Headquarters, Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, 11 a.m.

Monthly teen program: Escape the Library. Using only your wits and a couple of hints, see if you can work with your teammates and find a way out in our very own RPL escape room. Headquarters, Sept. 19, 4:30 p.m.; East, Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m.; South, Sept. 28, 4 p.m.

The Write Stuff: Lessons in and practice with creative writing, led by Jenny Hubbard, young-adult novelist. Headquarters, Oct. 3, 6 p.m.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” book release party:  Celebrate the release of the illustrated edition of the third Harry Potter book with crafts, snacks and a screening of the movie. We will not have copies of the book for sale. South, Oct. 3, 3 p.m.

Teen Hour: Bring your favorite games to challenge friends, talk about your ideas for upcoming events, or just hand out. Headquarters, Sept. 26, Oct. 24, 4:30 p.m.; East, Sept. 11, 6:30 p.m. South, Sept. 14, Oct. 26, 4 p.m.

Lego Saturday: Legos are available for children’s creative free play. Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at South.

Build A Story Saturday: Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-noon, headquarters. This program is designed for second- through fifth-graders, though all are welcome. Children will find words hidden in the library and write their own stories with those words or draw their own stories based on those words.

Superpower Saturday: Sept. 16, 10 a.m., South. Using templates, create a mask that reflects your superpower of choice and then watch select episodes from season one of “Teen Titans” (PG). Attendees are welcome to come already dressed in costumes, too.

Tech Tuesdays: Introduction to genealogy, South, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. This one-hour computer class, held in South’s computer lab, introduces participants to basic online genealogical resources and practices. Questions? Contact Paul at 704-216-7737 or Paul.Birkhead@rowancountync.gov

September film series: 2016’s “Batman vs. Superman,” (PG-13, 151 minutes), Sept. 16, 10 a.m. East Branch. Free, open to the public and all ages welcome. An adult must accompany children under 13. Free popcorn and lemonade. Part of Library Card Sign-up Month celebration.

• “Teen Titans,” South, Sept 16, 10 a.m. Enjoy select episodes from season one of “Teen Titans” (PG). Free, open to the public and all ages welcome. An adult must accompany children under 9. Free popcorn and lemonade. Part of Library Card Sign-up Month celebration.

• “Lego DC Superheroes: Justice League — Attack of the Legion of Doom,” 77 minutes. Free, open to the public and all ages welcome. An adult must accompany children under 13. Free popcorn and lemonade. Part of Library Card Sign-up Month celebration.

Tech Tuesdays: Introduction to Genealogy, South, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. This one-hour computer class, held in South’s computer lab, introduces participants to basic online genealogical resources and practices. Questions? Contact Paul at 704-216-7737 or Paul.Birkhead@rowancountync.gov.

Library Card Sign-up Month: At headquarters (201W. Fisher St.), East (110 Broad St., Rockwell) and South (920 Kimball Road, China Grove) branches. Join us as we celebrate 2017 Library Card Sign-up Month through a combination of active and passive programming. See story on this page.

Downtown Beats — Rowan’s Impromptu Chorus: Sept. 18, 6 p.m., headquarters. Everyone is welcome. This community sing requires no experience and no commitment. No charge or prior registration is required. Arrive at 6 for a short practice of two pre-selected songs. The sing will culminate with a final, videoed performance. Questions? Contact Abigail at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or at 704-216-8248.

Displays: Headquarters, Constitution Week by Daughters of the American Revolution and Hispanic Heritage Month by Icela Trujillo; East, celebrating the octopus, by Emma Rose; South, artisan jewelry by Myrtis Trexler.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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