For the Love of Libraries

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Do you remember that magical moment when you first walked into a public library? How the world opened up for you when you realized that you could take home any one of the myriad of books waiting on the shelves for you to read? If magic exists anywhere in our often-downtrodden world it is within the walls of our local libraries, and this month, I heartily encourage you to recapture that sense of wonder and joy and reconnect with your closest library during February - Library Lover’s Month. When it comes to libraries, there’s a lot to love.

In addition to providing thousands of books, from biographies to the latest fiction, libraries are a great source for free classes. And, between you and me, what’s spicier than knowledge?

This month, the Providence Public Library offers a series of free computer classes: Microsoft Excel at the Rochambeau Branch, Internet at Knight Memorial, Computer Basics at Mount Pleasant, Ebay: Buying and Selling at Smith Hill and PowerPoint at Olneyville. The Central Branch recently offered a six-week course on starting your own small business. This is just a small selection of what’s available; check your local library for offerings.

But, wait, that’s not all - many libraries also offer free museum passes for patrons. At the Cranston Public Library, patrons can reserve passes to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and Roger Williams Zoo up to 30 days in advance. The Newport Public Library offers passes to the Newport Art Museum and Blithewold Mansion, as well as a selection of discount coupons for area attractions. The Providence Public Library has great discounted museum passes for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and free passes for the Providence Children’s Museum. The Woonsocket Harris Public Library offers free admission to the Museum of Work and Culture and the Higgins Armory Museum. You don’t have to have a partner to have a wonderful and fulfilling day at your favorite museum, and what better way to show yourself you care than to enjoy a wonderful cultural activity, especially when it’s free.

If you love to read but all those lonely nights of reading by the proverbial fireside are getting you down, why not get out of the house and into a library book club? Gather with fellow readers to share the joy of the written word and make new friends in the process. This month at the Warwick Public Library, readers will be discussing “Peace Like A River” by Leif Enger at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11 and “A Sense of the World” by Jason Roberts the evening of the 19th. The New England Book Club meets on the last Sunday of each month at the Providence Central Branch. Discuss Grace Metalious’ “Peyton Place” on Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. If your library doesn’t have a book club that suits your fancy, start your own.

Libraries even offer opportunities for social connection that don’t center on books. Love chess and wish you had a chess partner? Visit the Rochambeau Branch of the Providence Public Library on Saturdays from noon until 2 p.m. for the Chess Club for Adults. The group is free but you should bring your own boards and pieces. Want to share your love of creative writing, or maybe you’re looking to share passages of the memoir you started writing last month? The Woonsocket Library has a weekly creative writers group on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. If movies are your thing, come back to Woonsocket for Monday Afternoon at the Movies at 2 p.m. to enjoy classic films and great company.

In a world that embraces technology, it’s somewhat of a miracle that libraries still exist. Sure, the funding is shaky at best, but somehow the libraries manage to keep on keeping on. Don’t forget: libraries wouldn’t be able to function without the support of their patrons. Every donation helps, no matter how small, but even if you aren’t able to show financial support for your local library, you can show your love by volunteering your time or knowledge. Literacy volunteers are always in high demand. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, write to your legislators asking for increased library funding. And if you really want to improve the world, take a child to the library today and infuse that love of reading into the next generation.

*Learn more about celebrating Library Lover’s Month:

www.librarysupport.net/librarylovers/

*The Warwick Library has Web sites of particular value to seniors:

www.warwicklibrary.org/seniors.htm

*This site lists of all the public libraries in Rhode Island:

www.publiclibraries.com/rhodeisland.htm

*Here are driving directions to the Ocean State Public Libraries:

www.oslri.org/libdirections.html

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