”The day I discovered that one could go to the public library and take out books was one of the happiest of my life.” Columnist Liz Smith.
Today, Ms. Smith could add audio books, DVDs, magazines and music CDs to her list of items which she could borrow from the library. And now more than ever, this act can be viewed as an incomparable opportunity. It’s been said that if you want to feel rich during these lean times, just go to your public library and walk out carrying bags of assorted checked-out treasures – without spending a dime.
. There you may peruse the catalog of every item in all 9 branches of the Whatcom County Library System and those of the Bellingham Public Libraries as well. Place a request for your item(s) of interest for pickup at the location of your choice. (Birch Bay residents, remember you may arrange for your requests to go to the Bookmobile, which stops at Bay Center Market every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Returned items may be placed anytime in the WCLS drop box located on the north wall of the market.)
While visiting the virtual branch, learn how to download audio books to your computer and MP3 player. Take practice tests for the GED or SAT, or to become a border patrol officer or nursing assistant. Look for articles in over 2200 magazines through the premium content option, free to library cardholders. Early readers, their parents and grandparents will appreciate Tumblebooks, a collection of free, interactive animated talking storybooks by well-known authors and publishers, including children’s classics, large print chapter books and reading related puzzles and games.
Also on the WCLS website, you’ll find ways to support your local library through donations of materials, time, or funds. Your donated items may be placed in the collection or given to the Blaine Friends for book sales. Volunteer your time by serving on the Foundation Board, the newly formed political action group Yes, Libraries, the Blaine Friends of the Library, or by helping with adult or children’s programming. Monetary donations are tax deductible and may be made online to the Foundation, designating the Blaine Branch as the recipient, or may be given directly to the Friends of the Blaine Library.
Under the current struggling economy, more people are flocking to their public libraries. Like many other organizations however, the library system is facing tough budgetary decisions. Ironically, during this time of increasing use, a reduction in staff, open hours, services and or materials are very real possibilities.
In response, the library system will likely place on November’s ballot, a measure asking for a tax increase of 10 to 14 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation ($20 to $28 per year for a $200,000 home.) In 30 years, the library system has only gone to the voters twice – once in 1980 and again in 1994. To learn more and to voice your thoughts, plan to attend a community informational meeting on Wednesday, May 6, at 2 p.m., at the Blaine Library. As masterfully quoted by broadcaster, Walter Cronkite, “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”
In the meantime be sure to take advantage of the many upcoming programs available at the library including, storytimes, junior chess club, family and teen Wii nights, book discussions, bird movies during Wings over Water festival, and tips on growing tomatoes in the Northwest by master gardener, Dave Simonarson. Also, submit your original poem, “Why I Love Living in Blaine,” to celebrate National Poetry Month in April and win one of three cash prizes donated by the Friends of the Library. Call 332-8146.