National Library Week

There’s much more to the local library than books

BY Christine R. Gonzalez

In 2020, then 7-year-old Phoebe rested on Vinny Von while reading a book at the Pine Valley Library. Christine R. Gonzalez
In 2020, then 7-year-old Phoebe rested on Vinny Von while reading a book at the Pine Valley Library. Christine R. Gonzalez

A variety of things can be seen at the New Hanover County Public Libraries: teenagers playing table tennis, a young girl reading to a therapy dog, sewing machines set up for a beginner’s sewing class, or someone exiting with a metal detector or weaving loom on loan.

There are many reasons to celebrate the 21st-century library during National Library Week, observed April 7-13, 2024.

The county library calendar shows an amazing variety of activities, including author lectures, painting projects, one-on-one basic computer assistance, business and legal seminars, and adult coloring time. And, of course, there are a wide variety of events devoted to reading, from infant storytime to dozens of book clubs at the four branches.

One of the most interesting areas to peruse online is the Library of Things, a lending library full of educational and fun items for all ages. There’s a karaoke machine, weaving loom, ukulele, metal detector, magna-tiles building set, pickleball paddles, and games that can be checked out for three weeks by library members with resident and non-resident cards in good standing.

Pine Valley librarian Statia McGourty said she loves the try-before-you-buy idea that the Library of Things offers to new hobbyists. She has also borrowed the sewing machine a few times.

Book clubs run the gamut from classic to quirky and are available day and night. Some groups can be social and gregarious, while an idea aimed at introverts is growing. Four years ago, librarian Dorothy Hodder queried interest in starting a silent book club.

“The thought of it tickled me,” says Hodder who pictured it a bit like her family gatherings, which her sister-in-law dubs “an introvert party.”

The idea is to gather in a room at the downtown library, formerly a Belk department store. Readers would have a 10-minute conversation time to discuss their individual books, then read in companionable silence for an hour. The idea has taken off and morphed into the Wilmington Silent Book Club, which now rotates between all the library branches.

One silent book club visitor, Alexandra, says she didn’t care for normal book clubs where everyone is trying to read the same book at the same pace.

“My dad and I used to sit in a room and read in silence. I thought it would be like that,” she says.

Young pet lovers also have an option. Children ages 5-11 can read to trained therapy dogs who give the new readers encouragement by being attentive listeners.

Several family reading times are on the schedule, including some that take place outside on library grounds.

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