Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
“There is not such as cradle of democracy upon the earth as the free public library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” — Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie might not have envisioned a world of eBooks and Facebook when he established Yakima’s first public library in 1904, but the mission of today’s Yakima Valley Libraries has changed very little. In keeping with Carnegie’s vision, Yakima’s libraries remain committed to enriching the community by providing free and equal access to ideas and a vast array of information. “A library is a reflection of a community,” says Kim Hixson, Yakima Valley Libraries Interim Director. “It’s a place where people can connect and share a love of learning,” she says. Yakima’s downtown branch still occupies the site of the original Carnegie library, according to Hixson; but today’s libraries serve all of Yakima County.
At each of the 18 branches from Naches to Mabton, community members have access to far more than the extensive catalog of books. “People use the library to apply for jobs online, for research on one of our databases and to explore genealogy. They can even take practice tests to prepare for the GED and other standardized tests,” says Hixson. “Storytime and Baby Lapsit are both so important for increasing children’s literacy in our community,” she says. With visitor counts up 25 percent and circulation up 5 percent, greater demand for library services drives the development of new ways to meet the community’s needs. On September 27, the Selah branch moved to a new space at 106 Sound Second Street. The new facility, 30 percent larger than the old building, allows them to expand their reach with additional materials and more computers for public use. Plans are in the works to build a new location for the West Valley branch, the highest circulating library in the county. “We’ll begin accepting construction bids during the winter months,” says Hixson, projecting a 2012 opening for a new building that will be more than 3,000 square feet larger than the existing library.
In addition to the library’s brick and mortar locations it also now prides itself on a full service website, www.yvl.org. “The site can also be seen as its own community library now,” says Hixson. “We’re really excited about the eBook services. The beauty of it is that anyone can access it from home,” she says. Launched August 1, the new service allows registered library users to select from more than 3,000 titles, downloading as many as 10 titles in MP3 format at one time. In keeping with technology, users can also connect with Yakima Valley Libraries on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/yakimavalleylibraries.
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