Local library sees growth, improvements in 2013

Published 8:04 pm Friday, December 13, 2013

In the annual report from Southwest Georgia Regional Library System for 2013 the Georgia Public Library Service Communications Dept. is quoted as saying, “Georgia’s public libraries drew 7.5 times as many people annually as Georgia’s professional and college football, baseball, basketball and hockey games combined. “
Catherine Vanstone, assistant director of the Gilbert H. Gragg Library in Bainbridge  said what that statement means to her is that a sporting game is a one time event, but the library is here forever and for all ages and stages of your life. “We are not just a small select fan base, but we’re here for everybody,” agreed Carole Albyn , director of youth and community services.
The report assigns a total value of various library services in the Southwest Ga. system at $5,084,128.01.
While that is by far the largest category of usage and given the greatest monetary value of service, there are many other programs and services offered that contribute to the community as a whole.
How many people realize that passes to the state parks and the Atlanta Zoo are available at your local library? Or, that the meeting room is available for use of non-profits? Or, that computers are available for public use at no cost to the user. That, alone is a big category, reporting usage of 38,544 times with a value of $462,528.00.
There were 28,614 reference questions answered with a value of $200,298. Another big usage is the borrowing of videos and CD’s.
The Gilbert H. Gragg Library in Bainbridge offers many children and young adult programs as well.
Toddler Time on Tuesdays, the summer reading program series and seasonal activities for children are all overseen by Albyn. She considers she has the ideal job, and adds, “It encompasses all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life and fulfills all my dreams.”
Albyn has also begun a Scribblers Society for all teens who like to write. It meets the third Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. Each month there is a special guest who discusses their area of writing. Legos and Games are every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m and open to children of all ages.
Those with tablets and e-readers can download e-books almost as easily as taking out a borrowed book, and those wishing to use one of the computers can log on with their library card, enter their password and be online without standing in line at the circulation desk.
There are book clubs in Miller and Seminole counties that meet regularly to read and discuss current literature.
Technical training and basic computer skills are taught locally by Vanstone who says being able to make a difference in someone’s life by teaching them how to use a computer for the first time and helping them get started in an on-line college course is what makes her job so rewarding.
The Bookmobile takes the library on a regular schedule to 11 pre-determined stops  where the needs of those who cannot come to the library are met.
Add to all of the above the services for the blind and hearing impaired — the Library for Exceptional Services — and you only begin to touch on the importance of the library to the community.
The Library for Accessible Services houses and distributes 42,724 digital and recorded cassette books to a population of 513,724 over 8,553 square miles in 22 counties. The material is designed for readers who cannot hold, handle or see well enough to read conventional print due to temporary or permanent handicap.
Ask a regular library user what it means to them to have access to all that is in the library and you will begin to understand the contribution the Southwest Georgia Regional Library System makes to the lives of our citizens.
A regular patron of the library is Clive Parker, who along with his wife Eileen has traveled many parts of the world. They are originally from England and he said this library is one of the best libraries they have found in their travels. He consistently uses the DVD section where he is fond of checking out British sitcoms.
He also finds it a great resource for those seeking information on gardening or home repairs. “When our home computer is down, we can come here and keep up with things.” He also recommends people who are seeking a job change to utilize the resources available at the library.
Bainbridge resident Gloria Johnson said she comes to the library every day to use the computer and do research. She began by taking computer classes there and now has her own laptop. She enjoys having access to the free Wi-Fi services at the library and has a great interest in local history. Asked what she would do without the library, she responds, “Where else could I go? They have it all here.”

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