Ohio library system gets more visitors by offering more than books

LaptopAcross the United States, libraries have had to become more than just a place to check out books. It’s no different for the Licking County Library in Newark, Ohio. Patrons are now coming to the library to go online and view information on the internet, watch movies, and even participate in a yoga session.

Director of the Licking County Library, Babette Wofter said it is the job of the library to be a source of information. It has always been the go-to source, but the way information is provided today is very different than what many are accustomed to. The library is becoming more of an experience than what it was in the past.

Wofter has been director since 2010 and it has been her goal to bring programs to the library that will get people talking. She has never been the kind of person not to take a chance. She says if you’re not taking a chance you’re not trying hard enough. Under her direction, kids are able to hear stories from veterans, while local greenthumbs give tips and seeds to those interested in gardening. There is even space for teens to play games and participate in a Battle of the Bands contest.

Barbary Sanderson, a teen services assistant at the library, has had to get creative to get kids and teenagers excited to come to the library and participate in its programs. One such idea was to start a Green Teens program. This was after Sanderson noticed that going green and upcycling was popular amongst teens. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. The library hosted a “Trashion Fashion Show” where teens used recyclables to create fashionable clothing. It was a success with over 40 teens participating to create 13 outfits. The cost of the program was a mere $5 which went to purchasing tin foil. Everything else had been donated by the Licking County Recycling Center.

Wofter and Sanderson believe the programs are doing very well, with most usually filled to capacity. While most libraries are seeing a sharp decline in circulation, the Licking County Library’s circulation continues to increase. Wofter said it’s a sign that the community enjoys what the library has to offer.

A “Friends of the Licking County Library” group was recently established for the Licking County Library in an attempt to raise money for its multiple branches and popular bookmobile. The bookmobile is essentially a library on a school bus that offers books, magazines, and DVDs.

President of the Friends of the Licking County Library, Marilyn Donahue said she can’t wait to see the value the group will bring to the library. Donahue, a patron of the library for over 20 years said is excited to be a member of the group and that it is something that’s long overdue.

The service group will support the library through fundraisers and events throughout the year. In the near future, it will begin to solicit membership support.

Wofter believes the support of the group will be very beneficial to the library in the coming years. She urges locals to stop by the library if they haven’t been there in a while. She said the library is very different than it was just a few months ago. Many would not recognize it with all of the activities going on.