Beyond books

By Kali Adams | The Charlotte News

Welcome to the library. No, it’s not just a place to grab a book and read for an hour. The Charlotte Library has grown into far more, offering a wealth of programs and services in addition to its collection of books.

As society moves into a more digital age, so is the library. The Charlotte Library currently offers digital media on many platforms. “The most popular are the downloadable books,” says Tech Librarian Susanna Kahn. “We have two programs that do that—Listen Up! Vermont and OneClick Digital.”  In addition, the public can access a digital version of The New York Times, learn a new language through Mango Languages or use one of the many research databases. “Initially setting up your account can feel daunting,” says Kahn of their online offerings. “But once they do it, people really like the convenience.”

Not sure how to use any of these programs or looking to become more fluent with tech in general? Look no further—Kahn offers one-on-one tech tutorials to teach you what you wish to know. “We’d like people to come in and get connected to this service,” Kahn says.
So much virtual knowledge does change the face of the library. “People that we used to see in here all the time are now checking out books online, which is why we don’t see them, but we know that they’re still patrons.” Kahn says. But she doesn’t feel that this is a negative thing. “One of the big things about a library is providing access to everyone, so if it’s more convenient for them to have an e-book, it’s great that we can do both of those things.” Margaret Woodruff, the library’s director, agrees. “I think from the beginning of libraries, it’s been all about making information accessible, and the way information is presented has changed over time.”

The library tries to accommodate as many interests as possible. In addition to virtual resources, the library regularly hosts events, both for adults and children. “We’re doing a coding club for kids right now. It’s a smaller group, but they love it,” says Kahn.

“During the week we have story time, and a couple times a month I have an after-school program,” Cheryl Sloan, the children’s and youth librarian, says. Children can often take the bus from CCS to the library to attend such programs. “In the summer we have a one-week program with 7th and 8th graders,” Sloan mentioned. “We’re introducing them to Oliver Twist, Mark Twain and mythology. We always pair a contemporary book with a classic.” Many children’s programs are aimed at elementary students, because the library has struggled in the past with teen programming. “One of our biggest challenges is getting teens here, just because we’re not near any high schools,” says Sloan. In the future, the library believes it would benefit from a teens-only room.

Adult programming often happens in the evenings, with author talks and book groups, among others. “We try to vary things a little bit to appeal to everyone’s interest. If you’re not interested in poetry, maybe you’re interested in sprouting, or something else,” says Circulation Librarian Cindi Robinson. Sometimes such events bring in people who would not otherwise visit the library. “There’s a draw to come back,” Robinson says. If you haven’t seen a program you’d be interested in attending, Woodruff welcomes suggestions. “If there are things that we’re not doing, I would really like people to let us know.”

The Charlotte Library is, above all, a community-minded organization. Whether you’re attending an event, browsing the book selections or downloading an e-book, the library is proud to bring you many ways to access and share knowledge. When asked which of their offerings held most importance, Woodruff said, “We offer a place where people can meet—that’s an important thing. Just a place to get information, resources and entertainment.”

See page 12 for more about  library events.Contact: