Meridian/Lauderdale County Public Library meets technology head-on with variety of services
Many changes have come to Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library the last several years.
There was a time not so long ago when most library patrons came to the library looking to either check out available books, to leaf through available magazines or newspapers, or maybe to sit quietly and do homework.
But today, the library’s services have expanded well beyond the confines of the library’s building at 2517 Seventh St. in Meridian. Patrons can check out books and download them online, and also lease.
While patrons still visit the library to check out books or browse magazines, they are also able to check out a variety of online materials, or to use the 15 Internet-equipped computers located at the library and designated for public use.
“Technology really has changed things,” said the library’s director, Barbara Gough. “Patrons are able to access information faster and more easily. You can sit down, push a button or two, and get the information that before took a great deal of research. As a library, we always want to respond to people’s needs.”
Today, a local library card also gets you access to an array of online ebooks. Through OneClickdigital, patrons can access more than 165,000 full-text digital books, including a variety of classic children’s books. The books can be viewed on any tablet.
On OneClickdigital, the library has access to a limited number of digital copies of the book. This means patrons must sometimes wait to check out particularly popular or otherwise in-demand books, just as they would if they checked out a hard copy of a book from the library.
There also is typically a limit to how long ebooks can be checked out, just as there would be for traditional books. Books are typically available for a two-week checkout. All ebook checkout is done online, and coming to the library for checkout or return isn’t necessary, likely making late fees a thing of the past for many library users.
A Google site provides patrons with almost 3 million free e-books that are not copyrighted and therefore available through the public domain. Some of the most popular books are found in the Free Classics section. Another site, Gutenberg, gives readers access to about 33,000 free ebooks. These can be read on a personal computer, Kindle or other portable device. No registration is required for the Gutenberg site.
The International Children’s Digital Library site also gives young and young-at-heart readers access to a variety of free books.
Another library service, Flipster, gives readers access to digital copies of a variety of magazines. A library card gives you magazine access on your computer, smartphone or tablet. There is not a limit on the number of magazines users can read at the same time, and there’s never a waiting list for magazines. Both current issues and back issues are typically available on Flipster.
One of the most popular spots in the library continues to be the Children’s Services Department. The department offers a variety of children’s programs throughout the year. The main goal of all children’s programming is to encourage reading and a lifelong love of books and learning.
The children’s events often shatter the quiet that some might expect from libraries of the past. A story time for toddlers is held each Tuesday at 10 a.m. On Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., students in grades kindergarten through four can come and hear a story time and complete a craft to take home. A popular LEGO club also meets, and attracts both children and adults.
Gough said that the expectation for noise levels in the library has changed through the years, with libraries shifting from almost entirely silent places to spaces where quiet talking and a variety of activities also are expected.
“We aren’t the quiet book tomb we once were,” Gough said. “It’s not uncommon to hear children squealing with delight. We’ve even had the MHS drum line perform in the library. We ask patrons to respect each other, of course, but there is a lot of enjoyment at the library, and that isn’t always done in silence.”
And while the library strives to be responsive to the needs of a new generation, that doesn’t mean that generational library favorites are going anywhere.
The long-popular storyline, which has been around for decades, continues to operate, entertaining a new generation of young people who call to hear a children’s story read on the phone by a local librarian. Both children’s book classics and popular new titles have been read on the line in recent months. The free call is available 24 hours a day and can be accessed by calling 601-482-4444.
In keeping with the times, today’s children also can use the computer in the children’s area. Three computers with internet access are available. As a safeguard, children who use the computers must have their own library card and also have a consent form signed by their legal parent or guardian.
The process of applying for a library card usually takes less than about five minutes and are required to check out any library materials, including most online materials. To secure a resident library card, individuals must live, work or own property in Lauderdale County. A state-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, is typically used to secure a library card. If a patron’s license doesn’t reflect a Lauderdale County address, an additional ID with a current address must be used. This might include printed personal checks, a voter registration card, utility bill or canceled mail. There is a $5 fee for replacement library cards.
Children 6 years old and older can receive a juvenile library card. A parent or legal guardian’s signature is required.
Non-residents of Meridian and Lauderdale County can get a non-resident library card, issued for one-year increments. The fee is non-refundable. Proper identification and proof of residence is required for the non-resident card.
For more information on getting a library card or other library services, call 601-693-6771 or go to www.meridian.lib.ms.us.
Author: Monique Harrison-Henderson