Libraries Rock!


By: Beth von Behren on July 11, 2012 Print This Post

It used to be we visited libraries to look up a topic we needed more information about or to check the card catalog for some titles to add to a bibliography for a paper we’d written. (Here’s a Wikipedia definition – with photos – if you’re too young to know what a card catalog was.)  Nowadays, we use Google when we can’t think of somebody’s name or when somebody mentions Nikola Tesla on Facebook and we

It was called a "card" catalog because it was full of 3x5 cards, with book name, author, publication date, and other information.

don’t know who that is. (It was his birthday yesterday, btw.)

It also used to be that to check out and read a bestseller from the library, you had to walk in to the library, request the book on a slip of paper, wait months until a copy was available, and then read it alone in bed at night.  Today, you can check a book’s availability on your home computer, request it online, and have it waiting for you the next time you visit the library.  Or, better yet, download it to your e-reader device, with no waiting and no driving at all.  And instead of reading alone in bed at night (although some of us, ahem, still do that), today we read on our phones, on our e-book devices, or on our laptop computers, all of which are mobile and can be used anywhere.

One might be tempted to think that with all this technological transformation, and the subsequent changes in social behavior, libraries would be in danger of becoming a little obsolete.

The truth, of course, is just the opposite.  In fact, libraries have remained strong, vibrant members of the community.  Your local public library is still THE best place to find the newest bestseller from John Grisham, check out a movie, read a huge variety of magazines, or even build that bibliography (some things never change).  It’s also the best place to join a reading group, meet an author, or do some Karaoke.

Wait, Karaoke?  Nope, that’s not a typo.  Karaoke is alive and well at your local library (at Kirkwood Public Library on Friday, July 27, 6:30 p.m.).  The modern public library, in fact, may be THE place to do and learn about a lot of things, including quilting, painting, and Karaoke.

Just this month at KPL, in fact, families met real birds of prey – falcons, owls, and vultures – as part of a “Wacky Wednesday” Raptor Awareness program presented by the World Bird Sanctuary.  “How-to” programs for teens this summer included designing a drawstring backpack and creating comic book crafts (as part of their “Wednesday Crafts” summer series for teens on Wednesdays at 6pm, through July 11). Teens also get their own game night with pizza during the summer.

Of course, libraries are still about books, but they’ve expanded on that as well.  In addition to books and music CDs, you can check out e-readers to read books electronically. KPL hosts story times for young children (“Books for Babies” and “First Steps Storytime”), a movie series (“Cinema KPL”), a Breakfast Club on selected Saturdays for kids (snacks for kids, coffee for parents), a Mystery Readers’ discussion group (The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler this month), and “Stories in the Park” during summer months for kids and parents.

Apparently, Kirkwood’s library is not alone.  This kind of thing is going on everywhere.  And it’s a good thing. Libraries have historically been a very important part of the community (remember Bookmobiles?). Personally, I know they pretty much saved my life as a kid.  I went to a very small school, but we were visited by the Bookmobile every other week, and I checked out the maximum number of books for my age range on each visit.  When I was unemployed for 20 months a few years ago,

In a program last year on fairies, a couple of young, fairy-looking KPL readers decorated marshmallows.

I spent one or two days every week at the local library – reading magazines, attending book discussion groups (for much-needed interpersonal interaction), researching employers, and using the library’s printers and photocopiers.  My kids did the Summer Reading Program every year when they were growing up.

How do YOU use your local library?  Feel free to post comments and ideas here.  And don’t forget to check out the Kirkwood Public Library’s Website for information about upcoming programs and events!




Written by Beth

Beth von Behren is the Public Information Officer for the City of Kirkwood. She manages the City Website ( and writes/edits both the monthly "Eye on Kirkwood" (published on the last Friday of the month inside the "Webster-Kirkwood Times") and the every-other-weekly e-newsletter "Kirkwood Happenings." To sign up for the e-newsletter, send an email to