By Pat Rutkowski | New Britain Public Library Director at February 24, 2012 | 8:00 am | Print
Ask someone what they think a library is about – the answer is usually “books”. That answer barely scratches the surface of what a library is. It is so much more. Take a look at an average day at the library. What you will see is a lively center of the community where the door is open to anyone who wants to walk through it. It is a gathering place open to everyone – one of the few that does not have an admission to get in or a charge for its services.
So if you stop by what will you see? You will see people – lots of people. In a month, over 20,000 visitors walk through the doors of the main library and the Jefferson Branch. Some are at the library for only a few minutes, some for a few hours and some spend their day at the library. You will see people checking items out to bring home – books, CDs, DVDs, magazines. You will see students studying together, dads, moms and grandparents reading to their children, lawyer sand social worker meeting with their clients. In the Reading Room, people are sitting, reading magazines and newspapers. Throughout the main library you will see people with their laptops accessing the internet through our WiFi. On certain days, you will see people attending a classic film showing, enjoying their lunch with a library provided dessert. On a Friday morning you will see moms and dads with their young children meeting with other moms and dads while their children play. In another area, a researcher might be conducting a study with prearranged participants. At the Homework Center in the Teen Room, students work with tutors.
At the computer you will see people answering their email, taking a computer class, putting together their resumes, searching for jobs or practicing interview techniques using the Job Bank database. You will see someone researching their family history using the Ancestry database. Visitors stop into the Local History Room to read about a long ago event that happened in the history of the city. Members of the book discussion group talk about the book they read. Poets meet to share their works. In the display cases, artists and crafters exhibit their works. Parents attend reading parties to learn about the importance of reading to their children and techniques to use. At the microfilm machine, you will see someone reading a long ago Herald. For some, the library is a place to have their questions answered. And then are those who are using the library without stepping in the door as they download books to listen to from the comfort of their home.
For some people, it is pure and simple, the library is a place where they can be among other people – feel a connection with others in a safe, comfortable and accepting environment. For others, it is a place that is warm and out of the rain or snow. In the summer, it is a place to be cool.
Your library is many things; a place of information, education and entertainment but it is also a place to meet, to share, to socialize, to gather, to connect, to relax, be informed and improve one’s life. Did you notice one word that appeared the most in this article? If you guessed “people” you would be right because that’s really what libraries are about. They are all about people.