Tales From Utah Valley: The magic of our public libraries – Daily Herald

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Recently an 8-year-old told me that she is excited for summer vacation because she will get to visit the public library so often. She said it was like magic because she can find any book she wants.

Journalist Walter Cronkite once said, “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” The Pleasant Grove Library alone gets 14,000 visits per month.

Like the 8-year-old girl, I have always loved libraries. While growing up, my siblings and I were regular visitors to our public library, where our parents would take us to read and check out books.

My grandma was an elementary school librarian. When visiting her, she would often take us with her to work on Saturdays where we could read any books we wanted. I also thought it seemed magical, especially to be practically alone in a room full of hundreds of books and I have very fond memories of the time I spent there with her. I still own several books that were discarded from the library where she worked in a small town in Oregon.

We know how important it is for children to have access to books. Many cannot afford to have a large number of books in their homes, with picture books costing as much as $18 each. Besides the literacy benefits of public libraries, there is much to learn and do in them.

The love of books still draws me to the library, where I visit regularly with my teenage kids. While we don’t use the many programs as much as we used to — we did when they were younger — we check out books (and pay overdue fines) regularly.

When my children were younger, we often visited Pleasant Grove Library’s nighttime story time called Twilight Tales, participated in story and crafts activities and even attended a Fancy Nancy Tea Party.

That particular library also has dozens of other programs for children, including an astronomy club, LEGO club, book clubs for various ages, after school activities and many more. Adults can take advantage of the numerous programs as well with parenting classes, computer-programming instruction, quilting and home-buying classes.

At the Pleasant Grove Library, there are more than 5,000 movies, 70 magazines, 18,000 downloadable eBooks, electronic foreign language lessons, access to academic research journals, test-taking and job search preparation, more than 3,000 physical audiobooks and 21,000 more downloadable audiobooks, Wi-Fi for those who do not have access elsewhere, one-on-one reading help and a very knowledgeable staff. I recently asked a staff member if a particular book was appropriate for a 13-year-old. She immediately knew what to tell me about it to help me decide. More than 30,000 children participate in the library’s programs every year.

Orem’s library has movie screening nights, open chess times and a weekly coding club for kids, in addition to dozens of other activities. Provo’s library has over 270,000 items, programs for all ages and interests and art gallery exhibits.

You really can’t go wrong visiting any of the local libraries in Utah Valley. To find out about the many programs, reading materials and services, look at your local library’s website or Facebook page.

No matter your age or interests, visit a library this week. Like children do, you might find it to be a magical experience.