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April 17, 2014

Libraries provide vital services

Cooperstown Crier

---- — Some people think that libraries are becoming obsolete due to the Internet and the growing popularity of e-books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Libraries are a repository for more than just the written word and reference materials. They provide a basic need for every community and will for the foreseeable future.

The Village Library of Cooperstown is a good case in point. Just on the topic of the Internet the library provides a valuable asset. At the moment we have five public access terminals for Internet use. Regular patrons use them all the time either because they can’t afford their own computer or theirs is on the fritz.

The library makes e-books and downloadable audios available through the Four County Library System. These items are offered free of charge for all patrons with library cards. With these titles there is no need to worry about overdue fines as the titles are encrypted and drop off your reading device at the due date.

People with laptops and iPads also value library services. Our free Wi-Fi connection is so popular that we can’t even keep track of the number of people who use it. Many patrons sit on the porch or in their cars after hours in order to stay connected.

Beyond keeping up with technology and offering it in an affordable and convenient manner, the library acts as a community center. Patrons use it for tutoring, book clubs, discussion groups, foreign language lessons, committee meetings, and socializing. Our children’s story hour, held every Wednesday at 10:30am, offers pre-school children an introduction to reading and crafts. For older children there is an after-school game club every Friday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The Friends of the Village Library sponsors several adult and children’s programs throughout the year. Adult topics cover the gambit from fly fishing to healthy living to people involved in international crises. Children are educated and amused by such entertainers as authors, storytellers, puppeteers, magicians, and police dogs. Adult programs run from September through May while the children’s programs run from January through August.

The library also hosts a weekly discussion group on current events every Wednesday at 3 p.m. and the women’s club hosts a book club every fourth Thursday of the month at 2:30 p.m. A knitting group, better known as the “Knit-Wits,” meets every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

Our DVD collection is becoming second to none. We currently have over 700 films available for circulation. Many are classics and current Oscar winners. DVDs are among our most popular items as it isn’t always convenient or affordable for our patrons to use Netflix or Redbox.

When it comes to the most basic library service, offering books, it’s a little too soon to think that the e-book rage is going to overtake the print version. Not everyone can afford reading devices, and many people still prefer reading the old-fashioned way. Circulation of e-books and downloadable audios are increasing but still account for only a fraction of the over 30,000 items that are checked out each year.

We are also one of the few libraries in the Four County Library System that is open seven days a week. Besides being open on Saturdays from 10 to 2 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. we have evening hours until 8pm on Monday and Wednesday. We operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. otherwise. Our whole purpose is to fill needs that are growing, not declining.

It may be intuitive to think that libraries are becoming obsolete because of the introduction of electronic media. That belief is completely false. Most people still value their public library because it offers something for everyone from the techie to the browser. The Village Library of Cooperstown is a community treasure and will be for many years to come.