When I visited numerous public libraries in the past several months, I was astonished with how the mood of libraries is different from my childhood days. I was raised to appreciate books and my love for reading started as a small child visiting local libraries with my mother. Libraries were, and still are a form of free entertainment for the entire family, from borrowing books and movies to accessing one’s computer needs.
Shhh Shhh was the sound you heard when you walked into a library. Libraries of yesteryear were noiseless places for reading, educating and studying. Eating was totally taboo, with strict, no nonsense Librarians. Children were expected to sit quietly and either listen to stories read by the Librarians or to read quietly among themselves.
Fast Forward to 2019. Libraries are now community gathering spaces, and safe havens for children and adults offering an array of services and activities. Children are energetically talking, playing on computers, laughing and obviously enjoying their library experiences. Some children and adults are working on school assignments, studying and reading among the bustling activity.
The MLK Branch Library offers Line Dancing on Fridays, beginning at 4pm. They also have Art Exhibits that change every 2-3 months from local artists and the Cleveland Museum of Art. In The Kids Cafe’ children can get a light after-school supper. The Branch hosts family visits, tutoring services, rental spaces and college prep through the Cleveland Now Program.
The Sterling Branch Library offers many of the same amenities but instead of line dancing they have a guitarist teaching the children upbeat, encouraging songs.
The Addison Branch Library offers tutoring for K-8th graders in math and reading. This Branch also offers a computer coding program, a robotics program and computer classes that are selected by the Main Library. All of the Cleveland Public Libraries offer a meal program for after-school students.
There is an elevated energy in today’s public library-the mood is jovial and inviting. Please take the time out of your busy schedule to visit or call your local library to learn more about their programming.