TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — From felt to finish, this amateur puppet class isn’t happening at a local art studio. It’s inside the maker space at the Tompkins County Public Library and the supplies, from sewing machines to a laser cutter, are all included with your library card.
“It isn’t the library that you remember from your own use of the library and not all libraries have caught up, but we are all moving in that direction,” said Annette Birdsall.
Pushing past paperback, Birdsall says libraries and librarians are offering many more options for users.
Laughing, Birdsall said, “Well if you look at your own experiences with librarians is, I would say you have to think broader.”
“There’s something valuable about the space itself where people can come and people have a quiet space to do their work,” said Rachel Clark.
A library science professor at Syracuse University, Clark says the power of libraries is information. In many cases, local history would be lost if not for the archives at your local library.
Clark said, “The mission of libraries has always been to create tools and services that connect people with information that they need, so that hasn’t changed. What has changed is how that manifests in libraries.”
At the Onondaga Central Library, they’re using recording studios, 3D printers, and even video games to secure their future.
“So people who want to learn about growing vegetables or flowers, we have someone on our staff who teaches them about that,” Rene Battelle said.
A new lending model is also allowing people to take home laptops and WiFi units.
Battelle said, “The fact that we have these WiFi kits that circulate with a computer to give full access to the internet is huge for people.”
Some libraries around Syracuse are also renting sports equipment, but with 32 locations across Onondaga County and even more in Central New York, seeing what’s available is up to you.
“So all of these things that are going on in libraries, the 3D printers, the maker spaces, the reorganizations are all just helping connect people with the information that they need,” said Clark.
Because in an age when information is power, why not empower yourself at a local library?
The Tompkins County Public Library also recently became a fine free library. While that is not the case for every library, many do offer self-checkout, car side pickup and drop off boxes for traditional book lending.