Community Spotlight: The Jackson City Library
If you think libraries are just quiet places that store books, it’s time for you to learn about modern libraries. We recently spoke with Roger Donaldson, Director of the Jackson City Library, about ways they welcome patrons with unexpected things they need. “Libraries offer so much more than many people realize and we believe that there should be a reason for every person to have a library card. There’s something for everyone here,” Donaldson said.
When Roger says everyone, he really means it.
The library offers services and materials that can be enjoyed in the library, on-the-go and virtually. They have internet hotspots available for check-out and can provide test proctoring services for college students. There are 3D printers for use in the library and an assortment of items that can be checked out including fishing gear, board games and puzzles. Backpacks filled with items needed on a hike including field guides and a Lake Katherine State Nature Preserve trail map are available too.
They also have a number of online resources for use on library computers or accessible from home using a library card. For example, the Chilton Library of Automotive Manuals is available from their website. Under the Premium Research Databases section, there are also resources for small businesses, adults and children covering topics like hobbies, historic maps and language learning. Free streaming music, movies and e-books are available through their website as well.
Through North Star Digital Literacy, library patrons can take a variety of online classes to learn about things like Microsoft products, social media and internet basics. “It’s free and it’s good for building job skills. We have one lady who comes in every week wanting to learn about computers. It isn’t for a job, she just wants to learn.,” Roger said.
Much of what they do focuses on connecting people. “Social interaction is an important part of what we do. We have older people who come in regularly just to sit a while and read. We may be the only human interaction they have that day so I’m glad we are here for them.”
There’s Storytime for toddlers and pre-school ages, an Art Club for kids and other special events throughout the year. Library After Hours is a weekly event for all ages to gather and play board games, build with Legos, have a snack and just enjoy this community gathering space. “Kids can have fun and be as loud as they want. It’s a good time and some families are very consistent in coming.”
Their Books and Brews Book Club meets one Friday per month to discuss the Classics over lunch. Upcoming reads will include Truman Capote’s “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express.”
For teens, there’s a dedicated room to hangout, play Nintendo Switch and even work on their high score at a pinball machine.
Outside the library, look for the Story Walk, a set of sixteen panels that features a children’s book to read along the way. This encourages exercise and reading while exploring a familiar route through town. They periodically change the story to keep people walking. As Donaldson pointed out, it also gives kids and families a chance to review safety rules while walking through town and crossing the street together.
Back inside the library, two guinea pigs provide patrons of all ages an opportunity to interact with furry friends and to watch their antics. The pair came to live at the library nearly two years ago when they were listed on Facebook Marketplace.
But don’t think this library has abandoned its roots. The space is bright and airy with comfy chairs for relaxing and study tables for research or homework. They have a large collection of local newspapers on microfilm for history buffs and genealogists seeking answers from Jackson County’s past. Patrons can also access the library edition of Ancestry.com from inside the library.
Additionally, they have free tax forms and provide fax and copy services for a fee. A large room for meetings and events recently was filled with artwork created by a local person with disabilities who paints. The staff have even developed a section dedicated to local and Appalachian writers.
Since there is no tax levy to support the library, Donaldson said they are always searching for funding through grants and donations. These funds help with nontraditional library expenses not covered by state funding. For example, a grant from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio purchased the Nintendo Switch while the Jackson County Community Fund purchased 3D printers. The pinball machine was acquired using uChoose Rewards® points earned with their VCNB Visa® Platinum credit card.
The Jackson native credits the library staff for making the library successful and for always finding opportunities to do more. “A good modern library listens and gives people what they need. We are always open to suggestions.”
Any Ohio resident can apply for a library card here. That library card grants patrons access to all materials including those online resources and interlibrary loan services that allow patrons to borrow books from other Ohio libraries.
“The real goal is to bring people together, to bring families together to have companionship, to have access to resources and to have fun. We’re building a connective caring community.”
Follow them on Facebook or visit their website. See below for a slideshow of images from the Jackson City Library.