CPL is not your grandmother's library

Sure, my grandmother would readily recognize the iconic Andrew Carnegie building that has been the Clinton Public Library for the last 115 years, but once inside, she would find a whole new world.

Those stuffy, austere librarians of years past have transitioned into information specialists, eagerly helping patrons access our collection.

When our library embraced the Digital Age, we gained access to half a million or so physical books, digital resources, audio books, and other materials through a sharing consortium with 16 neighboring libraries. Called Rivershare, it has put six times the amount of resources in the hands of our current patrons than what my grandmother had. Best of all, this huge expansion was done without adding one single square foot to our historic Carnegie library building.

Travel upstairs to the Children’s Department and find bright, cheery spaces that encourage giggles when great stories are shared, as well as a sense of awe when the virtual reality machines kick in. You’ll find our first Maker Space there. These are areas designed to make the most from a limited space and concentrate on a specific task or emphasis. Our Children’s Department is home to the Tinkercad MakeLab, and it teaches young minds to code while playing with robotics. The contagious atmosphere of engagement, encouragement, and celebration in the Children’s Department defies anyone trying to leave without a smile on their face.

Today’s Clinton Pubic Library, as well as all public libraries, are challenged to respond to the increasingly diverse needs found in our community. Our newest addition is the “Life Hacks Maker Space” and contains an incredibly eclectic collection of items meant to help patrons complete a project. Need a special cake pan for Grandma’s birthday? Maybe you would like to make some badges or buttons, but don’t want to invest in a machine. Perhaps you would like to laminate something that you’d like to preserve. The Life Hacks Maker Space offers the tools to complete those projects, as well as a Cricut Maker, a sewing machine and fax machine, and so much more! Garden enthusiasts can visit our new seed library where packets of seeds may be checked out to plant. After the fall harvest, patrons are asked to bring back seeds in order to replenish the seed library.

CPL is responding to our community in so many other ways. People drop in on Thursdays for our Franciscan Sisters’ great Share Our Sandwiches program. Our true-blue Friends of the Library maintain a wonderful used bookstore where bargains abound.

Each Tuesday, a representative from Iowa WORKS is available to help clean up a resume, provide interviewing tips, and give application assistance at our Lyons Branch.

A most generous benefactor has given CPL the means to access The Khan Academy. This phenomenally comprehensive online program, touted by Bill Gates, offers courses in everything from kindergarten math through AP Chemistry and college test prep. There are also courses that appeal to nontraditional students of all ages, such as personal finance, computer animation, and art history.

During this week when we celebrate our public libraries nationwide, promise yourself to check us out.

This not your grandmother’s library!

Colleen Nixon,

President of the Clinton Public Library's Board of Trustees