Opinion

Libraries are more relevant than ever | GUEST OPINION

Jill Jean is the library director for the Kitsap Regional Library. - Photo courtesy of KRL
Jill Jean is the library director for the Kitsap Regional Library.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of KRL

BY JILL JEAN

Some say libraries are obsolete; that libraries are irrelevant. If I have the Internet, Google and Amazon.com, why do I need a library?

We hear the refrain, but we don’t see the evidence to support it.

As the nation prepares to celebrate National Library Week April 8-14, I wanted to tell you about how our nine branch libraries in Kitsap County continue to change the lives of the people who use them and help build the communities they serve.

Every day in Kitsap, about 4,000 of your neighbors enter one of Kitsap Regional Library’s branches. Every year, our average library user checks out 25 items. The combined value of those items far exceeds the average Kitsap homeowner’s annual library tax bill.

We’ve just witnessed as hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bainbridge Library, a facility built through the individual efforts and donations of Bainbridge residents. Fifty years after the building opened, support for the library remains a key element of life on Bainbridge Island.

Our library users may be coming in for entertainment to check out “The Help” on DVD, or for escape by reading J.A. Jance’s latest mystery, or for personal enrichment with a classic novel like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or seeking the practical benefits of a good recipe from the “Paleo Diet Cookbook” or information they need to grow their own vegetables from “Tips for Container Gardening” by Rebecca Morris.

They may be bringing a child to Elephant and Piggie Day, or a Bainbridge student may be learning about Scratch Programming at the library during a spring break. Bainbridge adults may be taking part in the new Books on Tap event sponsored by Kitsap Regional Library at the Treehouse Café, or participating as ferry commuters in our new Ferry Tales book discussion group on board the boat, or attending a travelogue on Russia or watching and discussing the film classic, “A Sweet Smell of Success,” the Island Film Group’s April selection.

When the library is closed, your Bainbridge neighbors are among the 3,100 people who visit our digital branch, www.KRL.org, which makes library services available 24/7. They may be searching our catalog for a copy of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks;” they may be getting help with their geometry homework using Brainfuse; they may be revising their resume using the Job and Career Accelerator database; or learning Italian using LiveMocha; or downloading the songs from Bruce Springsteen’s new album using Freegal.

The Kitsap Regional Library supports community needs in many ways, during open library hours and online when the libraries are closed.

And we plan to do more. We are continually adding materials to our collection – books, magazines, CDs, DVDs or ebooks and audiobooks. And we are continually seeking new ways to deliver high quality services efficiently and effectively.

If you haven’t visited the library recently, stop in. the Bainbridge branch of the Kitsap Regional Library is a community hub. Talk to one of our staff to find out some of the different ways the Kitsap Regional Library can support your needs.

 

Jill Jean is the library director for the Kitsap Regional Library.

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