What makes a great public library? It’s really hard to decide between the helpful staff and the thousands of books on the shelf. Then again, maybe it’s the free internet access or the extensive selection of free databases.
Today, libraries have to be so much more than friendly librarians and a great selection of books to thrive. Luckily for us, our Sarasota County Library system knows what it takes! Our system was just named the 2012 Florida Library of the Year by the Florida Library Association.
With information and pleasure reading now available in so many formats, our Sarasota County Libraries have found just the right mix of books, DVDS and magazines, engaging programs and outstanding electronic resources to serve community residents and seasonal visitors.
There are dozens of data bases, most directly accessible and free on the Library web site at www.sclibs.net/resources — all you need is a Library Card. Just imagine, there you are sitting at home in your pajamas, learning a foreign language using Mango software, getting information on your investments from Morningstar Online, reading a new play from the Alexander Street Press, learning how to fix your car through the Chilton manual or finding data on Gale Virtual Reference for your term paper. Or, maybe you are out of work and you are using the Small Business Resource Center online to create your own business.
Do you have one of the new e-readers or tablets? Do you think you don’t need the library any more? Think again. Right now, from the Sarasota County’s library web site, you can download e-books for free to your device through OverDrive. Do you need help with that? Many of the nine Sarasota County libraries are offering classes for people learning to use e-readers.
Our libraries continue to adapt to new technologies and to meet the information and inspiration needs of their users, no matter where they are and no matter what reading format work best for them. More than 10,000 people walk into Sarasota County libraries each day; another 30,000 visit online.
But, you may ask, doesn’t everyone have access to these resources through the internet at home? Actually, many people don’t — library usage increases as the economy falters. Paula in Venice recently wrote, “I have been out of work for 3 years and can’t afford cable or internet hookup. The library has been a real life-saver for its free computers and DVD rentals.”
Electronic resources are expensive and quickly become obsolete. Demand and costs for e-books and data bases are rising even as state and county funds for collections decrease. The new Library Foundation for Sarasota County is committed to securing the future of our libraries by raising private dollars to complement tax dollars. You can help, too. Just visit www.sarasotalibraryfoundation.org or call 941-497-6643.
Linda Getzen is a member of the Board of Directors of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County