There is a place at the heart of most communities which can provide visitors direct access to virtually endless sources of knowledge and entertainment sharing resources, and it is all available free of charge and simply for the asking.
If you are unsure what is being talked about here it's likely the answer will surprise you: the local library.
Residents of this area are served by the seven various locations of the Martins Ferry Public Library system.
T-L Photo/KIM LOCCISANO
Making a visit to the library fun and educational for each age group is the mission at the heart of the children, youth and teen programs developed by Casey Stratton. Stratton is now in her second year of overseeing programs for the library system’s younger customers. Patrons of the local system’s libraries benefit from the additional skills she brings to it by way of having earned a degree in education. She is seen here at the Martins Ferry site among several of the colorful and
animated resources readily available to help fuel the interest children of various ages have in their individual library experiences.
Pass through the doors of any of the system's locations and you are entering a world of endless possibilities and are following a well established path; but not just a path meant to connect area residents to the larger world but also to help convey the message that home can also be a great place to spend some down time with a good book, a movie, magazine, an audio book, your favorite musical artists, and more.
Gaining access to these untold treasures is quite simple and is one of the few things available to just about anyone who can provide proper personal identification when asking to become a card carrying member of this very public entity.
"It's your local public library," is the message Martins Ferry Public Library Director Yvonne Myers offers to area residents year round.
It is a great place to go to plan your family outings or even a full out adventure.
As you and yours find a few minutes to sit around the kitchen table pondering how to make the best and most enjoyable use of the family or household's vacation budget, it's likely there is one classic resource not included in most "let's go here this summer" list of possibilities: the local library.
Your local library and its unique services and resources are not something to miss connecting with at the outset of the vacation planning season.
Just about anything you might want to know about the services and resources of the various library sites across the region can be found easily with the help of internet access.
Don't have a computer? Don't have internet access? Don't know how to use a computer or navigate the internet? Resources to change these realities are available free of charge at your local library.
It all starts by registering for a library card.
A valid library card, which is available free of charge to just about everyone, might be better named if it were considered to be a key, gives its owner ready access to information shared in books and other forms since written languages first emerged.
Internet access through use of the resources of a local library are being utilized now more than ever before by patrons of all ages, offered Myers.
Having internet access available free of charge at the library can mean all the difference in a student's access to research materials, college search process, a person's job searching efforts, or the ability of friends and families to easily exchange emails when phone calls are too expensive or not convenient.
But, before you can do a Google search, you have to know at least a little about how a computer, a program, and the internet can work well together for your personal benefit.
Those who did not grow up with computer in the home can find themselves at a disadvantage and often do not know where to turn for reliable help gaining such knowledge, but libraries across the state are working to help change that reality by offering several basic levels of computer classes to the public.
Whether you are inclined to visit your local library or to travel to the main site in Martins Ferry, each of the local library locations has computer skills classes available on a regular basis.
"At the library in Martins Ferry, we are very fortunate to have 16 instructional computer stations in a room where the instructor also has a computer integrated into the class exchange scenario.
In a matter of just a few lessons generally taught in the comfort of a library's computer instruction lab, and you also have the comfort of knowing others in your class share a similar skill level going into the enrichment opportunity, shared Myers.
Spending a few hours in an air conditioned computer lab at your local library is really all that is needed to gain at least some basic level of familiarity with computers and their everyday uses: such as a tireless resource for accessing vacation planning information, summertime reading and research information and the like.
Adding the library system's webpage to your favorite contacts list will be a good move as it will enable ready connections to virtually endless resources of genealogical records, to music, to e-readers, job and college searches and even includes manuals for auto repairs and sharing the information without the cost or hassle of finding repair or supply manuals.
While these are just a few of the highlights for patrons of all ages, the local libraries routinely prepare summertime reading programs, as well as the virtually year round activities focusing on individual age groups and helping to enhance their learning, reading and socializing skills while everyone has fun.
"Take a look at our webpage for details of the upcoming summer programs from infants six months of age and up," offered Casey Stratton, children and youth services coordinator at the Martins Ferry Public Library and for the entire library system.
Anyone interested in getting their name on the list to register for upcoming classes and activities at the libraries throughout the system can find directions and phone numbers for them all by starting at the main webpage, mfpl.org.
The webpage is also an easy means of previewing books for enjoyment anytime or the year - not just the summer months, offered Myers, who often takes it on herself to read and review books being added particularly to the youth reading collection resources.
One of the high points of the local library system's summer programs is generally a series of presenters or speakers contracted to visit several of the libraries for special community based experiences in the hope of reaching existing patrons and also expanding the awareness of and access to the library resources and services.
At this point the cost of bringing such educational and entertainment events to the local libraries runs at about $6,000 across the entire system.
"While we do have a book sale coming up in a few weeks which helps cover some of those costs, any donations from the business or private sector to help us continue these programs would be gratefully received," offered Myers candidly. "Any such efforts will be recognized publicly in several different ways," she explained, noting funds can be earmarked for programs at specific libraries in the system.
Details of the upcoming classes and events will soon be finalized and will be added to the library system's various webpages, via the main site mfpl.org.