Opinion

Bellingham, Whatcom libraries offer unlimited possibilities

For National Library Week, which was April 12 through April 18 this year, Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System highlighted the unlimited possibilities your libraries represent. Libraries have always been about an unlimited supply of excellent reading material – our two library systems checked out a total of 3.5 million items in 2014 – but there are so many things happening at your libraries, the possibilities are literally endless.

Free movies, music and more

Take Hoopla for example. This month your libraries are launching this exciting new free service, which allows you to stream movies, TV shows, entire albums of music, and audiobooks, right to your smartphone, tablet or PC.

Hoopla offers a new model for library borrowing: every cardholder can borrow up to 12 titles per month, and can select from the entire Hoopla catalog. Each title is available to everyone in Whatcom County simultaneously – meaning there’s no waiting on a lengthy holds list for your pick to become available. If hundreds of people, from Blaine to Birchwood to Sudden Valley, want to check out Maroon 5’s newest album, they can. Instantly. If multiple families decide to binge-watch Muppet movies (original, “Muppet Treasure Island,” “Muppets Wizard of Oz”) – they can.

You can download content to your device (use WiFi at your local library if you don’t have internet access at home), or stream the content, whichever you prefer. Voracious audiobook listeners will appreciate the broad selection of always-available audio titles. Hoopla titles have check-out periods, just like regular library materials, but if you’re not finished they’re always available for renewal and they are automatically returned when they are due.

New skills and hobbies

Your libraries offer opportunities to learn new skills and try out new activities and hobbies.

SkillShare at Bellingham Public Library’s Central Library features a compelling line up of classes and activities to spark your curiosity and introduce new skills and hobbies. This month, you can build your brainpower with games, puzzles and brain teasers, learn beginning Russian, construct a rain barrel, or try out tai chi. All events are free of charge. Take a look at the online calendar at bellinghampubliclibrary.org.

If you live or work in the county, Whatcom County Library System offers a wealth of programs, many of which are highlighted in the current edition of Explorations, available at wcls.org/explorations-diy. This time around, we’re featuring “Do It Yourself” programs, like applique beading, fruit tree grafting, and container gardening. Again, all library-sponsored events are free of charge. Everyone is welcome!

Opportunities for all ages

Libraries provide possibilities for people of all ages. Did you know that Whatcom Literacy Council volunteers tutor adult learners at various libraries, including Bellingham and Lynden? These adults may be mastering grammar and writing skills that they struggled with as children, or they may be recent immigrants learning English for the first time. Your libraries offer free English as a second language classes and talk times for adults to learn and practice English in an informal setting. In some cases, children are invited to attend with their parents. While the adults work with an ESL instructor, children work with a preschool teacher who introduces basic literacy skills.

Your libraries supply multiple possibilities for teens. With professional teen librarians and other teen-friendly staff, our libraries are safe places where teens are welcome. There are anime clubs for fans of Japanese animation, plus the annual library-sponsored BA~CON anime conference complete with cosplay where attendees dress as their favorite characters. Several libraries host Minecraft events, where teens and ‘tweens use their imaginations, and an online computer program, to build imaginary worlds. Teens can attend game nights, book discussions and more!

There are just as many possibilities for younger children. There are storytimes happening at libraries across Whatcom County every day of the week – with several happening daily at Bellingham Public Library. Our librarians help parents raise readers by introducing children to the five practices of early learning: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing. Each library has an area set aside for early learning, so each visit with young children can include time to explore.

Your libraries offer unlimited possibilities, so if you haven’t visited a library in Bellingham or Whatcom County in a while, do it now! We look forward to welcoming you.

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