Local libraries important to communities
Modern public libraries offer more than books and a place to read; they are a place to socialize, learn and receive assistance. Daleville Public Library is one such place.Rachel Horne, assistant library director and program coordinator, has worked for Daleville Public Library around seven years. Director Kathryn Brown has worked with the library for around 17 years.Horne said the modern public library offers information access, whether through books or online."(People) don't understand that (books are) really a very small portion of what we do," she said. "Over the years, the way we receive information has changed, so our jobs have changed. Most people that work in a library, their jobs have changed. So, yes, we do books, and we check out a lot of books, but that's not all we do."She said the library provides visitors access to databases and free tutoring assistance thanks to state Library Services and Technology Act grants, which Daleville's library also uses to fund projects, programs and more.People can access the Internet at the library, and even use the Alabama Virtual Library."So, just because we have this limited space and you don't see all these major things that maybe the bigger libraries have, it doesn't mean that it's not necessarily available for you," Horne said. "When I say information access, it's not just about books. (It's about) the Internet. If you realize how much in your day-to-day life you use the Internet for everything, think about there are a lot of people that also require that same technology, but they don't have that. They don't have access to it. A public library gives them that access."The staff at the Daleville Public Library also provide assistance with technology, digitizing photographs and documents, transferring files and information and more."Not everyone has a home office, so they can do (personal, online work) here," Horne said. "A lot of times, we're just helping them get their work done. I'm not saying we're doing their homework for them, but (we're) just showing them how they can help themselves."She said the library can also provide support in some situations in unique ways."You will have people who have just left their doctor's office, having been diagnosed with something pretty traumatic, and they don't really know where to go or how to process that information," she said. "Usually, what will happen is, they'll go to the library. They're looking for books; they're looking for reliable medical information."For families and children, the Daleville Public Library also offers programs that offer opportunities to socialize with others and learn more about the community."Programming is important because first of all, everyone needs to connect with other people," Horn said. "You need socialization. People need to talk and socialize with others."She said children's program, specifically those for younger children, are focused on developing early literacy skills and fine motor skills. Some programs focus on STEM topics."Those are fun things, and a lot of times, that's a good way for families to do stuff together and engage with their children," she said.The library also offers adult programs, such as a book club.Horne said military families also use the Daleville Public Library, and other local libraries, to learn about the community and make connections."If you want to check out a community, you go to the library and you spend time with the people," she said. "That is the best way to do it, is getting involved with a program. You can learn about the community, and you can make friends. They're going to tell you what restaurants to eat at, where to shop, what doctors to use, they're going to tell you that information."She said the children would also make friends before the school year begins."Because we're that close to Fort Rucker, that is a big deal to us that everyone feels comfortable, everybody feels welcome and everybody has a chance to engage," Horne said.The library also collaborates with not only the Daleville Senior Center to provide entertainment and the Daleville Recreation Department to provide a place for students to complete homework and more, but also other departments to bring the community together."A lot of people choose Daleville because it is a small town, and they want that small town feel," Horne said. "Libraries are kind of that thing that covers that whole demographic."Horne said the goal of the library is to serve the citizens of Daleville as well as those who are traveling through the city. She said the treatment of those visitors could be an asset to the local economy."Our goal kind of is, if we treat people nice, and we make them feel welcome here at the library, they may stay," she said. "They stay several hours, stay all day. They may spend money in the town."That is our little way of contributing to the economy. A lot of people don't think about that. They think you have to be charged for everything, but a library is completely different."Though the library staff serves citizens behind the counter, offers assistance at the computers or leads programs for the community, there's still more work behind the scenes, Horne said.Brown, library director, manages bank accounts and budgets, completes necessary paperwork and reports, writes grant proposals, and submits necessary plans to the state and more.Horne works to market the programs and the library and plans upcoming programs with help from Assistant Program Coordinator Glen Adams."A lot of people think we just sit in front of a computer, play on Facebook, play Solitaire and read all day," Horne said. "That is not what we do."She said the library allows her to work with a variety of people and never stop learning."You get to work around so many different people," she said. "There's no bigger satisfaction than knowing you were able to use some of your knowledge to help empower somebody else."You're constantly having to learn, you're constantly having to grow, and you're constantly being challenged. It is impossible to be bored when you work in a library. It really, really is."The Daleville Public Library serves the Daleville, Clayhatchee, Level Plains and Fort Rucker areas. For more information about programs or services, contact the library at (334) 503-9119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.