, Muskogee, OK

July 6, 2013

MPL keeps up with peers as libraries' function changes

By Jan Bryant
Books & More

— Just recently I read an article by Neil Steinberg in the Southtown Star entitled “Libraries look beyond the shelves.” In the article, Steinberg described several services in different libraries that illustrate how libraries have changed. He described how libraries are reimagining as community centers, business hubs or cultural centers. He described how at the Arlington Heights Library, students not only use electronic devices but build them. In other words, Steniberg described the 21st-century library. Well, you are probably wondering what this has to do with Muskogee Public Library. That is what I am about to tell you.

Muskogee Public Library is changing also. It is no longer what people have fixed in their minds as “the library.” It is online resources, now including music and complete magazines, which you can download to your computer or handheld device. It is a job search center. It is a Wii for video gaming, it is technology and photography camps for kids. It is science experiments with the Science Dude, early learning exploration with Ms. Shannon on Wednesday mornings and crafts for kids on Wednesday afternoons. It is also craft time for adults the first Tuesday of the month. It is meeting rooms for business and local organizations.

The library is not only about what happens in the building or via your computer or handheld device, it is also about taking services out. Ms. Shannon does early literacy activities at 15 different day-care centers on a regular basis. She also gives the day-care centers books so their kids will have books to read on site. Thanks to the Kirschner Foundation, she is able to purchase books for our Books for Babies program. These books are given out through the Health Department. Bank of Oklahoma also provides support to purchase books that we give away at various programs. The library gives away several thousand books each year. We give away books to encourage the joy of reading and to support early literacy.

We also give some of our used books to groups in the community. We just boxed books for 15 different assisted living centers, nursing homes and hospitals. We have books waiting to be boxed to give to some other groups. Each group gets approximately 75 books, and the library plans to send additional books later in the year.

The library participates in numerous events such as the Azalea Parade, Success Expo, Heritage Days, etc., throughout the year. We attended Kindergarten Round-Up at Muskogee Public Schools and plan on making Back to School Night. We provide programs for groups. We do look beyond the shelves.

To conclude his article, Mr Steinberg quotes Jason Kuhl of the Arlington Heights Library: “Hey, is this the role of the library? Yes! Libraries are still doing what they've always done, we're just doing it in a new way … for new times.”

This is Muskogee Public Library; so come check us out. We would like to particularly invite you to our summer special program “Riders of the Orphan Train” at 2 p.m. July 13 in the Grant Foreman Room.

Jan Bryant is the head librarian at the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657 or