Within the past few years I've discovered a professionally and personally enriching spot that offers something for everyone regardless of age. It's the public library.
The library offers free computer classes, job-search help and free tutoring. It's a place where you can take home DVDs for a few days cheaper than you could at a movie rental store, or even better, for free. And, of course, don't forget about all those great books.
Right now I'm reading “The Spectrum” by Dean Cornish, an awesome book I checked out from the library. Another book I checked out recently gave me some excellent insight into how to get a book published. There are times when the Internet just won't do when it comes to getting good information.
I go a lot, yet am always amazed by how many resources, activities and programs are available. All for free. This month I'm taking computer classes in Excel and PowerPoint.
Did I mention they're free? Most of the 24 branches that make up public library system offer something unique such as story-time hours for preschoolers, Wii games for teens, house-hunting tips and book clubs. Some even sponsor specialty programs such as the Fall Fashion Extravaganza that the Beatties Ford Branch is hosting Sept. 20.
My favorite library to visit is the Sugar Creek branch on North Tryon. The staff is knowledgeable, pleasant and offers top-notch customer service. Sugar Creek is also well-known for having the best DVD movie collection among all the branches. Their stock can compete with Blockbuster. And most of the movies are free to check out.
Jonita Edmonds manages the Sugar Creek branch. She says the library is one of the most vital resources for the community.
“It's so many things,” said Edmonds when asked to describe the role of the library. “We are a learning place as well as a place to help out the community.”
From Sept. 29 through Oct. 4, Edmonds and her staff will hold a weeklong celebration of the branch's fifth-year anniversary. A book sale, author visits, and a patron appreciation day will help commemorate the anniversary.
Edmonds said that one of the main ways the library helps is by offering after-school tutoring for students and job-finding services for adults. A city-operated career center is in the same building as the library. Job seekers often go next door to the library to use computers and for help with writing resumes. Edmonds put together a career section inside the library to help job seekers with their search.
One of Edmonds' staff members helped put together a PSAT and SAT prep class. Some of her staff members also visit schools to help students with their reading.
The Sugar Creek library is one of five branches to offer a weekly class for Latinos who want to learn English.
To check out what's happening at a library near you visit www.plcmc.org.