By Heather Mullinix
I've always appreciated a library. As a person who loves to read, who wouldn't love a building filled with books? But recently, I've been making more and more use of our fabulous Art Circle Library at 3 East St. in Crossville.
Turns out I'm not the only one.
In January, the library served 17,938 patrons. That's up about 600 patrons from last January, and up almost double from January 2010, when 9,882 patrons were served at the old library location.
And all those folks aren't just taking advantage of the shelves and shelves and shelves of books — though that's the draw for me. They're using the computers there to access the Internet. They're taking advantage of the many periodicals available. They're participating in the many programs offered, like Quackers Story Time or the special Wednesday noon concerts or watching movies or expanding their horizons with arts, crafts and music lessons.
That's what the library is really all about, isn't it? Expanding the horizons of those who walk through the doors.
I had a library card for many years in Cumberland County. I confess I didn't put it to good use until recently.
I'd gotten hooked on a book series and was having trouble finding the books in order at my favorite used book stores (there are several of these, and I love them, every one). I'm a bit particular about reading a series involving the same character. Books must be read in sequential order. Otherwise everything gets all scrambled and you get peeks into plot twists earlier than you should.
It's like when certain TV channels decide they're going to show all three movies of the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings trilogies, but they put them on in the wrong order. I'm not sure why they do that. Every time it happens, I want to call up their customer service number and complain. Of course, the only number I have is to our television providers, and it's not like they can tell TNT to switch up the order of the movies so they can be watched the right way.
So, with my linear train of thought, I needed to read book one, followed by book two, three and so on until I reached book 18. Except I scoured three used book stores looking for book two and couldn't find it anywhere. I could find three and four, but nary a book two.
I broke down and bought three and four and then purchased two from a ebook seller online. Now, I like the ebook concept, but it has a serious flaw. I can't take that ebook to the used book store and trade it in on new, different books. Heck, I'm not even sure I can share it with multiple friends that might enjoy it.
That's one of the joys of books printed on paper and bound up in a little cover. You can take it anywhere. It doesn't require a battery. And when you're finished, you can put it on a shelf or you can pass the joy of reading on to someone else.
You can't do any of that with an ebook.
Of course, I knew the library would likely have my book. I don't know why I waited so long. It's not like I keep a lot of books, anyway. This particular series, while enjoyable, was strictly read once and destroy — or pack up to trade in for more books! Besides, it's hard to read a mystery more than once. You already know what's going to happen. There are only a handful of books that have managed to make the "read again" status on my reading list.
After spending about $30 on books I knew I wouldn't read again, I smacked my forehead and said, "Duh!" Off to the library. I've read the next 12 books in the series already, along with three supplemental novels. I figure I've saved, depending on where I found those books to purchase, anywhere from $75 to $150 in book purchases.
Now that's a good deal.
And when you consider all the other resources available at the library, it because an even more valuable asset.
They have the old Chronicle issues available on microfilm and microfiche so you can look through Cumberland County history that was written as it was happening. Trust me, you can spend hours and hours looking through those old papers. It's fascinating stuff.
There's also a bevy of activities happening all the time. For example, if you need help figuring out how to use that nifty iPad you've gotten, you can attend Saturday's question and answer session with expert Nithya Kanagasegar. It's part of the library's mission to offer information to our residents. Next Monday, the library will host the "Welcome to Medicare" Class from 5 to 7 p.m. to help those turning 65 understand their choices and the benefits and rights they have. Wednesday, you can enjoy a hammered dulcimer concert during your lunch break at noon. Wednesdays are also a great time to bring the kids and introduce them to the fabulous children's library. At 10 a.m., Ms. Susie presents Quackers Story Time at the Children's Library Carousel. Kid Bits for preschool children and their parents is at Tuesdays at 10 a.m.
This weekend is one of my favorite events, with the Friends of the Art Circle Public Library Book Sale. You can scour the shelves and find a treasure trove of reading material in all genres. It's a great way to stock up for your summer reading and proceeds benefit the library. There will also be music, movies and more.
Take the time to see what our library can offer you. Stop by 3 East St. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or Wednesday or Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Or call 484-6790 to learn more about services or to sign up for the many fun activities.
The Art Circle Library is truly a community treasure.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesday. She may be reached at email@example.com.