Libraries are more than just books these days

There are many things in the world we should be thankful for having in our lives on a daily basis because they often enrich us and make us a better person.

In Manistee County we are blessed to have an outstanding library system. With a main branch located in town and branch locations in Onekama, Arcadia, Bear Lake, Kaleva and Wellston it gives easy access to the knowledge and entertainment value that is contained within the walls of those structures.

When you think about it, we are pretty lucky in that respect because not all communities have that type of access to libraries in their towns. Shortening the distance between home and the library makes for easy access to keep them a viable part of the community.

But there is more to this story as libraries are no longer a building filled with just with rows and rows of books on shelves like many of us remember from our youth. What you also see today is the influx of technology in so many forms that give people the opportunity to access literature, information and entertainment items at their library.

Knowledge and the ability to acquire it should never be linked to just the people who have the thickest wallets. Public libraries help level that playing field in the most positive way for people from all walks of life.

What has also been pleasing to see is the way Manistee County Library Executive Director Deb Greenacre and her staff continue to work hard in bringing the library to the community. There once was a time years ago where not entering a library building kind of left you out in the cold to the good things that were happening inside that building.

However, that has changed in so many ways with a Facebook presence and one of my personal favorites, which is the weekly library column written by library personnel Kim Jankowiak and Becca Brown. These two do a marvelous job of keeping us up to date on what’s new at the library. Thank you ladies for doing a great job, and keep up the good work.

Their column contains what’s new in adult, young adult and juvenile books, which is great for avid readers like myself. Getting a heads up on some new fiction or non-fiction book to watch for often is the perfect thing to pique interest.

It’s also great for parents looking for good reading options for their children. The fact that reading is still extremely popular among children is great to see because children’s books not only entertain they often include an important life skills message as well.

Many times the phrase has been used that “If you encourage a child to read, you are giving them a gift for life.” That encouragement was given to me as a child and a love of reading is a gift that is still burning strong within me to this day.

So I encourage everyone to do the same with their children. What better place to bring that home than in a library that is just filled with good reading material? It is a priceless gift to give to any child.

All the public schools still celebrate Reading Month every March and it was good to see how they promote the importance of good reading skills along with the many good things it brings to our lives.

When it comes right down to it, libraries are still “information centers” and over the years one of the many popular additions they have made is the programs they have brought to the community. Just recently they held one on identifying morel mushrooms with champion mushroom hunter Anthony Williams as a presenter.

The program was held at the Wagoner Community Center and drew a large crowd to listen to the tips Williams had to offer. Morel hunting is very popular around this area and the state. What better way to educate the public on how to do it safely then by bringing in an expert on the subject?

Providing programs of this nature and all the other technological improvements the Manistee County Library staff has made over the years more than prove they are still an active part of the community. What’s more, it keeps up with the concept of how they listen to the needs of the public and do their very best to meet them.

The local library is also trying something new and innovative this summer with a mobile bike library that they will ride to several locations around the city. It’s a pretty neat concept and one that shows the people at the library are always coming up with new ideas.

So hopefully everyone will continue to support our local library as they continue to do the same for this community. And the next time you are in one of their buildings take the time to express your appreciation to Executive Director Deb Greenacre and her staff for what they do to make Manistee County the best place in the world to live.

It is well deserved appreciation and a service that will hopefully continue to be there for us long after I see you again on Thursday.

Ken Grabowski is the retired associate editor at the Manistee News Advocate who spent more than 36 years in the newspaper business.

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