I grew up in rural northeast Pennsylvania. When I was a kid, my access to the library was limited to school or visiting a bookmobile. As a result, I feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities to discover the world through books. I didn’t get to experience the journeys they can take you on the way I could have if I was able to get to a library on a regular basis.
That’s one of the reasons that I’ve made it my goal to make the library more accessible to everyone who lives in this county. For example, you may have noticed recently that the library is taking more of its services outside of our walls. We have hired Outreach Specialists at many of our locations to bring library programs to places where people gather – community centers, senior centers, Head Starts, neighborhood association meetings.
In the 21st century, libraries are about so much more than books – they’re about experiences, growth and lifelong learning. Our new Outreach team embraces this, and they’re putting it into action wherever they see a need. One of our new Outreach Specialists, for example, accompanied a group of senior citizens on a visit to Walmart. When he had visited the senior center, they told him they struggled with using the self-checkout machines, and the bus that took them to shop only gave them an hour. So when their designated shopping day was scheduled, he went with them and showed them how to use the machines. We also hope to bring library materials into the community for checkout in the near future, via book bicycles and a bookmobile.
Our first book bike, sponsored by the Sorosis of Orlando Woman’s Club, has been ordered and will be making its debut this summer – we can’t wait to bring it to a community event near you.
To me, getting people to come to the library is great. But if we can’t get them to come, we need to bring the library to them, so we can open up a world of informational, educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities and experiences they might not otherwise have access to. I don’t want anyone to miss out.