The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 15, 2014

Public library in Enid isn’t just about books

Local facility enters digital age, is all about helping families grow

Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The library isn’t just about books anymore.

Jade Powell, interim director of the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, said it would have been for just research or schoolwork three decades ago.

Now the library has a mission to provide family programming, something on display every week.

One recent Wednesday, the Cat in the Hat stopped by and read Dr. Seuss’ “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” to a group of toddlers and their mothers.

After that program ended, children even younger gathered for another reading program.

“It’s geared toward helping parents learn new ways to interact with their children, to help with brain development and literacy skills they’ll need later on. It’s never too early to start working on your literacy skills,” Powell said. “Page-turning for a baby is the very basic literacy skill they can learn.”

Advancements in technology have made the library more valuable. In part, it offers programs that use technology for research and activities.

But where computers fail, the library steps up.

“We have several resources in the library you can’t reach with a computer,” Powell said. “We’re trying to expose those types of resources but we’re also trying to help families grow together and find more things that interest them, and hopefully we can provide that information.”

And that can be done in a variety of ways, she added.

“It used to be about books, and when you say ‘library,’ what comes to your mind but books?” said Powell. “A library isn’t just about books anymore. Yes, we have books and we will always have books.”

And now those books have reached the digital age, as patrons can download e-books to their readers.

“We have to look at our electronic resources and try to marry all of these things together into one big informational resource,” Powell said.

She said libraries are changing and constantly morphing to meet the needs of the population.

Enid’s library has three full-time programming librarians to develop educational programs focused on different ages that help with, among other things, reading, research and genealogy.

“Sometimes they overlap. And they work together as a team in order to get the programming that’s going to work best for our area and fulfill our needs,” she said.

In addition to the everyday needs of those utilizing the library, the staff also has been faced with issues concerning the library’s actual structure.

“Anytime you have a 50-year-old building, you’re going to have some challenges there. The city of Enid’s been very supportive in helping us grow, to met the community needs we have,” said Powell.

That city support helps the library be a model for others in the state. For example, Enid was one of the first libraries to offer e-tablets to patrons after buying 10.

“We’re very different than other Oklahoma libraries. We’re very forward-thinking. We’re trying new things. A lot of times, other Oklahoma libraries are looking to us to see what we’re doing,” Powell said. “A lot of times they want to implement those changes in their own library.”