While people may not be borrowing as many books as in year’s past, it hasn’t hindered the amount of people they see coming through their doors.
Instead, the reasons people come to the library have changed.
“We try to adapt to the needs of the patrons and just continue to be that vital community resource,” Library Director Virginia March said.
Early afternoon midweek, the main branch Onslow County Public Library in Jacksonville has a steady stream of people coming in and out.
Many of them are on the computers, creating Google accounts and writing papers. March said it’s common to see people in and out of the libraries in Onslow County.
Seretta Gravely and her 17-year-old daughter Kiani were using the computers Thursday afternoon as Gravely worked to set up a Google account. Kiani said she uses the library often.
“They got everything that I need,” she said, pointing at the computers, books and printer.
Most of the time she uses the library to study for school and said she chooses it over studying at home because of the easy access to the above resources. The SAT is coming up and she plans to study for that at the library, too.
A lot of people come to the library to use one of their 24 computers, March said, as well as the free Wi-Fi on their own devices.
Parents still see the benefit of the books, though, March said. In Jacksonville and Richlands, 50 percent of the books checked out are from the children’s section.
Gravely said she used to bring Kiani to the library when she was a little girl, introducing her to Curious George and Dr. Seuss. Her whole family enjoys the resources the library offers, she continued, including her mother who watches borrowed movies to keep her mind sharp.
And the library is still a favorite place for many to meet up, she continued. In Richlands, a group of home schooled students meet up once a month, getting to know each other and interact. Each library has a book club and hosts free Pinterest craft parties. There’s test proctoring and a study room.
March said the library takes requests and suggestions from the community and tries to make those wishes work.
“We try to be responsive to what their wants are,” March said.
That includes when someone asks for a specific book, and that request – and reading the book itself – can happen online and from home.
Onslow is part of the N.C. Digital Library which houses electronic books, audio books, and movies for library card holders to borrow. Library members can access the database through a link on the library’s website or through one of the two kiosks.
The large one is at the airport, March said, and the portable, smaller version is at the Onslow County Government Center. The airport kiosk was purchased with grant money in February and the smaller kiosk was purchased with the library’s budget “because of the success of the one at the airport,” March said.
Both are charging stations and are set up so the link to download a book or movie is delivered to your phone by email or text.
March said the biggest benefit to having digital options is being able to offer more options. The libraries in Onslow County only have so much space.
“We have to weed more often or . . . get rid of titles sooner to make space for a new one,” March said.
With the digital options, March doesn’t have that limitation and if a book you want isn’t owned by the library, March said to simply request it.
Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com