NORWICH — Today's libraries are so much more than just a place to read books. The Guernsey Memorial Library, located at 3 Court Street in Norwich, now offers a litany of both physical and digital resources for library card holders.
"Libraries these days are definitely more than just books. Guernsey Memorial Library has about 90,000 items currently, ranging from books, magazines, newspapers, Books on CD, Music CDs, DVDs, PS4 games, Switch games, Xbox games, board games, comics, art kits, and book club kits. One of the most interesting items we circulate is a ghost hunting kit," said Guernsey Memorial Library Director Connie Dalrymple.
Having a library card allows visitors to check out these materials to take home and enjoy. Even better, Guernsey has changed their late fee policy, which had been in place for almost the entire history of the library.
The policy used to charge borrowers a certain amount of money per day items were past due. Dalrymple said this was to encourage people to return their books, and also generate some revenue for the library.
"We stopped charging fines for children since they really don’t have control over when they are brought to return books, since they don’t have their own money, and since we don’t want to have any barriers to reading for children," she explained. "A couple of years ago, we decided there really shouldn’t be barriers to reading for anyone."
"The only exception to that is if an item you have checked out has holds placed on it by another person. If another person is waiting for your book, we still charge if you choose not to return the item on time," she added.
Dalrymple said the change has had next to no impact on library revenue, and has eliminated some apprehension around signing up for a library card.
In addition to the physical items available for checkout at Guernsey, signing up for a library card gives the added benefits of access to a variety of digital resources and services, from ebooks to music to a language learning program.
Card holders can access Libby, a sort of digital library where users can "check out" thousands of books, audiobooks, and magazines. There are no late fees as Libby automatically returns items on their due dates. Similar to Libby, Hoopla is also available for library card holders. Hoopla offers a range of ebooks, audiobooks, comics, music, movies, and TV shows for users to enjoy.
Signing up for a library card also grants access to Kanopy, an app filled with movies, documentaries and TV shows; Freegal, a music and music video streaming service, which Dalrymple said is "similar to Spotify, but without the ads;" and several databases for research on anything from family history to scholarly sources for school papers.
But the benefits don't stop there. Guernsey Library just added another digital service for card holders called Transparent Language.
"You download the app to your device, input your library card number and PIN, and you can choose from a pretty comprehensive list of languages. The more typical choices are there, like Spanish and French, but there are also lesser-studied options," said Dalrymple. "If you’re binging Outlander, for example, you can select Scottish Gaelic so that you can try to pick out words in the show."
Signing up for a Guernsey Memorial Library card is fast, free, and easy. All that is required are two forms of ID, one of which must have a current address. Dalrymple said a piece of mail can be used as proof of address if no other ID is available.
Library cards are available in standard credit card size, or as key rings, and are available to anyone eld enough to sign their own name. Lost library cards can be replaced for a $1 fee.
Plus, getting a Guernsey Library card doesn't just supply users with the vast supply of resources from Guernsey, according to Dalrymple.
"The cool thing is that one library card gets you library services at any of the 42 libraries in the Four County Library System," she said, adding that materials from other libraries can be reserved and delivered to Norwich as well. "When you sign up, please be sure to write down your chosen PIN so that you can access the library’s online services and apps in addition to the physical materials in the library."
Sign up for a library card today by visiting the Guernsey Memorial Library front desk.
"The public library is one of the only places you can go and hang out, use computers, and take advantage of all sorts of educational and entertainment opportunities without having to spend money," said Dalrymple. "Everyone owes it to themselves to check out what the new generation of public library has to offer. You’ll be glad you did!"
More information on Guernsey Memorial Library and their available services can be found at GuernseyMemorialLibrary.org or on the Guernsey Memorial Library Facebook page.