A 21st century library is hiding inside a 19th century building
Are you still paying for a subscription to the New York Times? The Wall Street Journal? How about The Economist? Want to know how a product is rated in Consumer Reports, but don’t want to buy the magazine? Your Gleason Public Library card is your passport to any of these venerable publications, for free. And that is a fraction of a percent of the material available to you. Thanks to Library Director Martha Feeney-Patten and her staff, the GPL has thoroughly embraced all the rich technology available, which means that you have an unbelievable array of media you can enjoy without ever leaving home.
What is downright impressive is not just the depth but the breadth of the offerings, for everyone of every age and inclination. Planning a trip? Global Road Warrior is described as the most comprehensive country cultural database on the market today. Need to write a research paper? GPL is the gateway to reference books and databases, from the Encyclopedia Britannica to scholarly journals. There’s even an Ancestry.com library edition, so you can check out whether or not you’re really a descendant of Josiah Blood.
I haven’t even gotten to the technology offerings. (Feeney-Patten was the Technology Librarian before she became Director). Having problems with a particular digital device? You can book some time one-on-one with a staff member for some in-depth technical assistance. Free. The Library boasts a new MacPro loaded with everything you need to produce professional brochures, photo albums, pamphlets and the like. It features Adobe Creative Suite 6, including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, plus web design tools like Dreamweaver and Flash Pro.
There are six public PCs loaded with Microsoft Office and all the subscription databases. Although time on these is limited, don’t try to find an empty one just after school lets out—that’s when the middle school boys descend to play their video games (“Dude! My army is at your gates!”). The library is also a Wi-Fi hotspot, and offers two Roku players for checkout, along with eight e-readers.
This is at best a miniscule listing of what your library has to offer. And, oh yes, if, like me, you still like the feel of a real book in your hands, GPL has those too, in abundance, and if it doesn’t have a book on hand, it can quickly acquire a book from other libraries within its consortium. The only thing I can say in defense of my excessive use of my Kindle is that I haven’t paid for a dog-destroyed book in at least two months now.