County recognizes, appreciates libraries

This week has been dubbed “Sussex County Library Week,” and Sussex County Council spent some time at their meeting on Tuesday celebrating the work of the 14 public libraries that call Sussex home.

According to county officials, more than 1.3 million items were checked out from local libraries in 2011, and more than 3,800 educational programs were offered for both children and adults. If those numbers seem a bit high to you at first blush, take a glance through our Calendar of Events and Continuing Events sections of the paper. They are filled with happenings at our local libraries.
Susanne Keefe, director of the South Coastal Library, told county council members that library programs are “no longer an extra. They are a vital part of what we do. ... Thank you for helping us do it.”

Keefe also said that South Coastal Library, alone, sponsored 360 programs last year, from storytime to cultural experiences for older adults. She said that the library served more than 8,000 people in 2011, including more than 2,600 children. That is in addition to the books, references and online resources made available to people of the community.

That is having an impact on the community.

But there is still more to consider. While public access to the Internet has certainly drawn some people into libraries nationally, it has also impacted how some people use libraries. They were once considered vital places to conduct research for everything from student papers to keeping on top of current events.

But people often now open up Google on their home computers or smartphones, and don’t find as much of a need to frequent the library for those purposes. The inception of online books and magazines has also made it easy for people to just do what they have to do from the security and ease of their homes.

Libraries, in turn, have evolved. Besides the aforementioned access to the Internet that nearly every library provides, they also host classes on computer usage and put on events to keep young people coming in the doors.

Selbyville is fantastic at reaching out to aspiring young artists, and Frankford has a litany of programs for young people. The Friends of the South Coastal Library has raised incredible amounts of money for the expansion of that facility, and generated much of their money from the popular Beach and Bay Cottage Tour. Yes, the face of libraries has changed because of other avenues of research available, but they have adapted. And they are here to stay.