Sullivan Free Library's Blog

August 23, 2010

Are Libraries Relevant?

Filed under: Library Issues — Sullivan Free Library @ 5:25 pm
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I was browsing through the comments in a newspaper article today and was struck by one that stated that public libraries are no longer needed, because “Who doesn’t have books and computers and the internet in their own home?”

My guess is that this person hasn’t visited a library in a very long time, if ever.  This very one-sided view shows a limited perception of the realities of the world around him/her.

Public libraries are filled daily with people who do not have computers and internet access in their homes.  And while I know that there are people who prefer to buy books rather than borrow them from the library, I don’t know of many people who can afford to buy every book they’d ever want to read.

This uninformed attitude about libraries is one of the factors that have kept libraries underfunded for decades, never more so than in recent times, when the economic recession is sending people to their public libraries in record numbers.

The majority of our funding comes from a local library tax which is voted on every year at the same time as the school budget.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have a community that values and supports libraries; our budget has  passed by a wide margin for the past sixteen years.  Still, I get occasional calls and comments from people complaining that they don’t understand why THEY have to pay taxes to support the library when they never use it.

I would hazard a guess that, even if they’ve never stepped foot into their local library, they’ve benefited in some way from supporting it. A good library is a resource for everyone in the community, from school children to businesses to senior citizens.   It is far better to have a library available even if you don’t think you need it than to need it and not have the services available.

What do you think?  Do you have any library “sucess stories” to share?


June 28, 2010

Memorial Gifts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 4:05 pm
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When a friend or family member passes away, it’s hard to know what to do to show how much you care.   Sending flowers and making food are time-honored ways of giving support, but often families are overwhelmed when receiving  many at once.

Some people  designate a charity to receive donations in lieu of flowers such as hospice or another organization that has been particularly helpful or meaningful in their lives.

When there are no specific  suggestions from the family, another way to celebrate and honor the life of a loved one is to make a donation to a local library in their name.  If the person had  interests or hobbies, the library can purchase books in those subject areas and place a bookplate memorializing the person.   Larger donations could purchase needed furniture or equipment with a plaque acknowledging the person in whose name the gift was made.  Most libraries have donor walls or plaques acknowledging gifts over a certain amount.

Public libraries received thousands of visitors every year;  what better way to memorialize an individual than through a book or item that will be seen and used by so many?

Our library has a rocking chair that has been in our children’s library for longer than I have been here.  It has a small tag identifying the donor, but until recently, I didn’t know the story behind it.  A former Board member told me last week about how this particular man came in the library one day (in a different building at the time), looked around and said “This place needs a comfortable chair where a man can come and get away from his wife from time to time!”.   In consultation with library staff, he bought the rocker and donated it to the library.    It has since been used by librarians reading stories to groups of children, by parents rocking their babies to sleep and occasionally, by an adult who needs a comfortable place to doze off.   That chair has a lot of history.

Many years ago, the library lost a treasured staff person to a heart condition.   Many people made donations in her name, which were used to purchase an upholstered platform rocker and ottoman.   It was placed in a quiet corner of our then tiny library.   A piece of embroidery made by that person was framed and hung behind the chair, and library patrons  had a comfortable place to read the newspaper or  just sit and relax.   When the library moved to a larger building, those were the first two pieces of furniture in a whole area devoted to quiet reading.   We like to think that E. would be happy to be in the new library with us.

At the library, we are always honored to be chosen a recipient for memorial gifts and do our best to work with the donor  to find something that is meaningful to all involved.

June 25, 2010

The Importance of Summer Reading

All around the country, libraries and bookstores are gearing up for extensive summer reading programs for children.   This is not just a marketing strategy to raise circulation and book sales, but based on hard evidence:  children who read over the long summer break are more likely to do well when they return to school in the fall.  Young readers who don’t continue to read over the summer — especially those who are reluctant or at-risk — are likely to lose crucial ground. One summer off can sometimes mean a whole school year of struggling academic performance.  Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children don’t “catch up” in fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills. By the
end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates.

Children need to read outside of school. Research clearly shows that the key to stemming summer reading loss is finding novel ways to get books into the hands of children during the summer break.   Studies suggest that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the preceding school year. Reading more books leads to even greater success.

The summer reading programs sponsored by public libraries offer an invaluable service to families by providing free programs and resources to help children maintain reading skills.  Libraries offer incentives to motivate children to read, a wide range of interesting titles at all reading levels and fun programs to get children in to the library involved.

The importance of summer reading is so widely recognized that bookstores and other establishments offer incentives to encourage children to read as well:

Barnes & Noble



New York State

Be sure to visit your local library or one of the links above to find ways to encourage your child to read this summer.  Remember: the best way to encourage skill development in your child is to be a good role model–so check out the Adult Summer Reading programs as well!   Both locations of the Sullivan Free Library have programs for both groups this summer.


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