Catherine Roche: Library offers many services to community


Catherine Roche is the director of Braswell Memorial Library.


Braswell Memorial Library

Sunday, January 21, 2018

People tell me that they would like to work in a library because they love to read.

Reading is important to library staff members, but there is no time for it at work. Here is a short list of some of what we are doing. Of course the library loans books, but we also answer questions, fax for the public, provide copiers and printing, offer meeting space, help people research their ancestry, take passport applications and teach computer skills. Some library workers even dance, sing songs and share stories with little children who are just beginning to learn about their world.

Despite rumors to the contrary, public libraries are as busy as ever. Braswell Memorial Library has 45,500 active members. Last year, over 172,000 people entered the library. That’s a lot of traffic.

Although many people have switched to digital readers, printed books are still the biggest draw. In 2017, Braswell Memorial Library loaned over 201,000 books to members of the community as well as an additional 21,000 eBooks. That makes a total of 222,000 library books! If you didn’t know that you can borrow eBooks for free from the library, visit us on the Web to get started. You will find a robust collection of fiction and nonfiction. Card holders also have access to a collection of thousands of eBooks and eAudiobooks especially for children from pre-k to fourth grade through NC Kids Digital. Best of all, none of the eBooks ever accrue fines or fees.

Libraries are where people turn for computers and internet access. The library-owned public computers logged 51,000 internet sessions in 2017. People jumped online using the free Wi-Fi for an additional 61,000 connections. 112,000 internet sessions represent access for our community members to all of the aspects of daily life that have migrated to the online environment.

The Youth Services Department conducted 1,250 programs for children, both at the library and in the community with a total attendance of 40,000 children and their care-givers. Library programs introduce children to reading using books with rhyme and rhythm, books that make the imagination soar, and books that help them understand their feelings and build empathy. Sharing books with toddlers and preschoolers builds the language skills that lead to independent reading when they reach school age. It is important because reading fluency is one of the biggest indicators of success in school.

The year 2017 was also a banner year for Nash County Community Libraries. Braswell Memorial Library and the public libraries in Whitakers, Bailey, Middlesex and Spring Hope have collaborated for years. We all share the same computer operating software and members from any library can borrow materials from all libraries. Now we are moving toward a county-wide library system. Middlesex and Spring Hope public libraries, along with Bailey and Whitakers libraries, have contracted with Braswell Library to manage their day-to-day operations. It’s an important development because it creates efficiencies for better library services and it paves the way for all the Nash County Libraries to benefit from State Aid to Public Libraries and other grant opportunities. Libraries truly are stronger together and we are happy to work with our partners to create stronger services for all community members.

Our libraries are supported by municipal and county governments with some additional funding from the state of North Carolina. They also benefit from local organizations, bequests and private donors. On behalf of Braswell Memorial Library and its trustees, I sincerely thank all those who make our libraries possible through their support. The public library welcomes all comers and is vital resource for many people in our communities. Thank you!