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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Libraries bring people together for many reasons

By Yvonne Patch, special to the News

I’ve always known that the public library is one of the best and most lasting experiences in my life. As the only child of immigrant parents in England, the library was my opportunity to discover so many books I wanted to read. These books took me places both real and imagined and opened up a much bigger world.
These library visits completely sewed up my career choice when I was young. After a long career in public libraries, I can tell you that the library is your best bet for (free) adventure, discovery and choices. Choice is an important element of the public library experience. Libraries offer a range and depth of reading, listening and viewing materials, and can support your hobbies and interests; from finding the specs to fix your 1987 pickup truck to transporting you into the vaults of the past centuries.
Visits to the library for story times as a child start the journey through life experiences with the library as a steady source of supports along the way. Libraries provide a place of freedom to select your preferences for life stages. This quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby sums it up perfectly: “I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in the library.”
You can choose solitude or social interaction, whether sitting and reading, studying, contemplating, creating a work space or visiting to borrow your books, magazines, movies, computer games and music. We have free wi-fi. You can relish the library as a place to meet, linger, enjoy and learn, where all age groups with diverse interests come together.
Our range of free programs includes health and wellness topics, book clubs, knitting groups, discussion forums, poetry and author readings, maker spaces, music concerts, and free movies. You can take computer classes for all skill levels, explore social networking possibilities, trace your family history and learn job searching methods. The opportunities to listen, watch, engage, enjoy and learn grow each month with new additions to our programming for all ages (check out “What’s Happening” online and in our branches).
My initial mission when I started this career was to bring people and books together – a noble goal to develop meaningful community and individual connections, and a way to share my love of libraries and the riches they offer. I can still embrace the same idea of connecting people with libraries and experiences beyond books. To paraphrase a quote by Tom Lehrer: Of course I can read, but thank God I don’t have to.
Drop in anytime – we are always pleased to meet you!
Yvonne Patch is Manager of Hamilton Public Library’s Sherwood and Valley Park branches.

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