Wednesday, August 14, 2013

3 Reasons Why Arlington County's Columbia Pike's Library is The Best.

You might think that the Internet would have rendered libraries obsolete. Not so, of course. And while looking up some information on my local library, I was pleasantly surprised at how innovative my branch has been. Here are three examples of my library being better than, well, your library:

1. The Reading Rabbit Program - while some parts of the country freak out about an imaginary Shariah Law controversy, my library is using it's kids-reading-to-animals program to get Muslim families more involved community, not less.

Our regular Paws-to-Read program is on hiatus for the month of August. So librarian Desiree decided to invite the rabbits to the Library partly because she knew that several Muslim families are unable to participate in Paws-to-Read, since practicing Muslims discourage touching dogs.

2. Blind Date With a Book - what a novel way to branch out and read something different:

Columbia Pike Branch Library staff have selected an eclectic assortment of books from a variety of genres for your reading pleasure. Each booked is wrapped in a plain paper cover with a general subject heading and bar code on the wrapper.

Try that with your Kindle! (Actually, it wouldn't really be that hard to setup a bit of code that sends you to a random entry on Project Gutenburg. Hmmm...)

3. Nauck Community Scan-In - here's a another clever use for library resources: helping to collect local historical data. The scan-in concept is really smart: get your neighbors to bring in photos and other local-related documents, and digitize them. Nobody has to actually part with their precious heirlooms, and the community can record and learn about its history.

The library isn't just collecting and scanning documents, they are also gathering oral histories. Like this story, which took place on Columbia Pike, the street we live off of:

In those days many people didn’t have TVs. My father had the appliances and hardware and stuff so on Friday nights they used to have fights until ten o’clock or something so he used to keep the store open on Friday nights so people could come and watch TV.

When Danny’s family moved down here from New Jersey, they had moved here that week and on Friday night his mother and father went out for a walk, and they were out there out there watching the TV…[M]y sister, my mother and I and we came to the store. My aunt and a cousin were there. My aunt said to my cousin… “Well, Mrs. Cohen, are you ready to go home?”

[H]is mother heard “Mrs. Cohen” so she went up and said, “Which one of you is Mrs. Cohen?”

My aunt said, “I’m Mrs. Cohen. This is my daughter-in-law, Naomi Cohen, and this is my sister-in-law, Ida Cohen.”

This lady said, “Are you Jewish?”

Of course my aunt said, “Yes.”

She said, “Well, we’re Jewish and we just moved here from New Jersey, and I have two sons and they’re tired of eating dairy, they want meat. Can you tell me where to find a Jewish butcher, a kosher butcher?”

…She said she had these two sons and of course here I am this bold little girl and I said, “How old are your sons?”

She said, “fifteen and seventeen.”

I said, “Do they like to bowl?”

And yes, the daughter in the above story goes on to marry one of the sons that had just moved to town. Kosher butchers, the original Jdate.

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