standing Westerly Library

Libraries have been around, in some form or another, for literally thousands of years. The earliest libraries functioned largely as archives, to store important documents (back then, in the form of clay tablets). Over time they began to collect scholarly resources on all manner of subjects, and became regarded as institutions of higher learning and knowledge. One of the most famous of these libraries was the Library of Alexandria (known best for its fiery demise), which — thanks to their trusty librarian Zenodotus — was the first known library to organize their materials alphabetically. This is a rather unremarkable concept to us today, but at the time it was truly groundbreaking! This brings us to about 280 BC, and, while libraries went through many different forms between then and now, public libraries as we know them are still relatively novel … not to mention modern offerings such as eBooks and eAudiobooks!

In short, libraries have been continuously evolving to meet the needs of society since their conception. This last year is a prime example, as libraries worldwide have pivoted their services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing online resources, adapting programs to be held virtually, and establishing contactless checkout and pickup of materials. Through it all, we’re still dedicated to maintaining a vibrant collection of books by popular authors, but it is certainly not the only thing we are known for these days.

Still, there are certain myths about libraries that persist. I don’t know a single librarian who hasn’t heard some iteration of the following: “Libraries are just books, they’re going to be obsolete soon”. Of course, we love books — in ALL formats. And lending print and digital materials are certainly at the core of our organization … but we offer plenty more. We strengthen communities through books clubs, online meetups, and social opportunities for all ages and interests. We’re committed to stimulating intellect by hosting presenters on all different topics, and providing access to educational materials and programs. We spark imagination through access to the arts: enjoy art exhibits in our Hoxie Gallery, try your hand at DIY art with our “Take and Make” craft projects, create something unique or innovative in our Makerspace, or pop in to our weekly (virtual) Knit and Crochet club to share your latest work and talk with other yarn artists. In addition to all that, we’re always here to lend a helping hand with technology, reference questions and information requests, and local history inquiries.

As far as libraries becoming obsolete: nope. We’re still here, we’re still creating, planning, and educating. And our services are still ever-evolving to meet the changing needs of our beautiful, vibrant community.

Top requested books

1. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah

2. “Win” by Harlan Coben

3. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

4. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

5. “The Paris Library” by Janet Skeslien Charles

6. “21st Birthday” by James Patterson

7. “Before She Disappeared” by Lisa Gardner

8. “Send for Me” by Lauren Fox

9. “Red Book” by James Patterson

10. “Eternal” by Lisa Scottoline

Top requested DVDs

1. “News of the World”

2. “Wonder Woman 1984”

3. “Promising Young Woman”

4. “The Undoing”

5. “Minari”

6. “The Little Things”

7. “Shadow in the Cloud”

8. “Palm Springs”

9. “Our Friend”

10. “Tenet”

This week

TUESDAY — 1-4 p.m., Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available via email to help connect you with local services/resources. Email her at advocate@westerlylibrary.org; 5:30-7:30 Virtual Knit and Crochet Club – We’re still meeting virtually! Email cwalsh@westerlylibrary.org for details.

WEDNESDAY — 12-1:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – Join us on Zoom for help with your tech questions. Preregistration is required.

THURSDAY — 11a.m.-12 p.m., (Virtual) Older Adult Hour - In this virtual program, we’ll talk about resources, programs, and services in and around Westerly that you may not have heard of, and each meeting will feature a special guest. This week, we will be joined by the Catherine Taylor, Executive Director of Age-Friendly Rhode Island. Register on our website www.westerlylibrary.org, or call (401) 596-2877 x306 for more information; 4-4:45 p.m., Couch to 5k Run Club: Information Session -

FRIDAY — 10-10:20 a.m., Kids Facebook Live Storytime – Join our Children’s Room staff, as each week, we do a short storytime through Facebook Live. Participants can go to our Facebook Page (Westerly Library & Wilcox Park) and click on the ‘Live’ tab at the top.

Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.

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