National Library Week celebrated

National Library Week celebrated

EDITIOR’S NOTE: This is the first part of a two-part series related to National Library Week, which began Sunday.

“LIVES CHANGE @ Your Library,” the theme for National Library Week now underway, had a special meaning for one Eastern Ohio little girl years ago.

Granted job searches are one life-changing aspect for many people at libraries, but one individual told Alan Hall, director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, that the library kept her “on the straight and narrow.”

Hall said the woman’s parents died when she was a child, and she had grown up with other family members who “were not the best influence on her life.” She discovered the public library on a field trip and found it to be “a beautiful refuge from the rest of her life.” he added.

The little girl would go to the library three or four times a week, and a librarian at that time sometimes would have the child read aloud.

“It made her a fabulous reader,” he added. The woman recalled how through books, she read about adventures and going around the world.

That was among the stories that the Jefferson County library received in 2010 when patrons were asked to tell about the library’s influence.

“Most people seem impacted (by libraries) as children. That’s why we focus on children during National Library Week,” said Hall.”It’s the first part of independence and decision-making on the part of the child.”

He added that libraries now have summer reading programs for children, teens and adults. In addition to the main library in Steubenville, the library serves Adena, Brilliant, Dillonvale-Mount Pleasant, Tiltonsville, Toronto and Steubenville-Schiappa.

“We’re the last public service desk in the community,” said Hall, who commented on things such as color copiers as well as the availability of tax forms and forms required by the state. Also available are notary public services.

Robyn E. Vittek, director at the St. Clairsville Public Library, commented, “I feel like the libraries change lives every day, because they’re open to everyone. We’re one of the few places where absolutely everyone is welcome. Everyone can find help here.”

Brenda Brown, director of the Barnesville Hutton Memorial Library, pointed out how libraries introduce young children to books and also give them the responsibility of taking care of someone else’s property in addition to reading.

Brown also mentioned how computers help with job searches and applying for jobs online. She told of one fellow who wanted a resume for the Job Fair at the Ohio Valley Mall. Although a librarian could have typed the resume in seconds, he was taught to use the computer and that will be a help in the future, she said.

“I feel that service to the community has always been a focus of the library; that aspect has never changed,” said Sandi Thompson, director of the Puskarich Public Library, Cadiz. “Libraries have grown and evolved in how we provide for the needs of every member of the community.

“Many people work and study here. It’s a trusted place where people can meet and share.”

As to life-changing aspects, Thompson mentioned technology classes and programs for job seekers.

Gaining knowledge at libraries is one way in which individuals change their lives, according to Kathy South, director of the Monroe County District Library. “We offer just about anything,” said South, who added people can educate themselves through libraries where they can let libraries know what is needed, and guidance will be provided.

The access to computers not only helps with job searches and resumes but also provides a way to file unemployment claims, she added.

“I think people that come to the library have access to all the information. They can take classes, and everything is free,” said Yvonne Myers, director of the Belmont County District Library. The system includes Martins Ferry, Bridgeport, Shadyside, Powhatan Point, Bethesda and the Victoria Read Library at Flushing.

Myers also said people can learn about computers at libraries, and she also noted how taking classes can change lives.

With the recent passage of a library levy, Myers said the district is able to obtain more bestsellers as well as television series and movies.

“I think we’re changing lives by enabling them to live like they want to,” said the district librarian.

Laura Cramblett, director of the Bellaire Public Library, said, “We provide them (library patrons) with information and in return, they become knowledgeable. We provide computer access that allows them to find jobs.”

Pointing out a library is a safe haven for teens and children, Cramblett also said the schools in that area no longer have music classes and school libraries so the Bellaire library takes books to schools where they can be checked out for middle school and elementary students. Also, music programs are held every week.

Librarians also reported how thousands of items were checked at their libraries in 2013. These figures are more than 267,000 items from the Belmont County District Library including its branches; Barnesville, 103,403; Puskarich Public Library, 164,265; Monroe, 173,000 items; Bellaire, 109,990; Jefferson County including Steubenville, 850,000; and St. Clairsville, 78,444.

Several librarians reported on an increase in the use of eBooks, and some libraries such as the Puskarich facility offer eBook training.

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