Several weeks ago, the library held an essay contest asking library patrons to share how the Manatee County libraries have saved them money. The contest was sponsored by the Library Foundation Inc. and the first-place winner received a Kindle Fire.
We were delighted by the number of entries, and also pleased with the level of enthusiasm that the participants displayed for the library system. It was inspiring to see the library's mission statement -- "Nourish imagination, promote lifelong learning and enrich the community" -- reflected in the entries.
We heard from avid readers, home-schooling parents, job seekers, retirees, college students, hobbyists, researchers, story-time fans, wi-fi users, and those just looking for entertainment on a budget.
First prize was awarded to Heather Teijelo, a mother of three who uses the library on a weekly basis. Heather explains that for a long time her family did not have Internet access, and by using library computers she has saved hundreds of dollars each year. She also points out that a family of five cannot go to the movies for less than $40, but she can check out an unlimited number of DVDs from her local library. In addition to checking out books regularly, Heather and her children also enjoy the library's free summer programs. Heather writes, "As this country is facing tough economic times, I am trying to teach my children the value of a dollar."
Second prize was awarded to Kim Kinney, a single mother who checked out various independent study books to learn the skills required to pass her college entrance exams. She also used the library's online resources to prepare. Kim writes, "Thanks to Manatee County Libraries, I am now ready for college again, and I still have money to provide for my children."
Third prize was awarded to Stacey Annalore, who describes herself as a "penny-pinching flight attendant" who downloads e-books from the library to save money and travel light. Her husband is a fan of our large collection of music CDs, especially since he has to spend hours in the car each day. Stacey home-schooled her son and relied on the library's wide array of books to supplement his learning.
Honorable mention awards were given to Robyn Bumbara, R. Jill Fink, Jennifer McCarrick and Cynthia Ritchie.
Robyn was surprised by the range of programs for children offered by the library, especially during summer. R. Jill is a college student who appreciates the free wi-fi and research assistance from the librarians. Jennifer is a mother of three and a full-time college student who calls herself "the queen of saving money" and she recommends the library to everyone. Cynthia writes that her research in the library helped her save 30 percent on a bungalow. She also shared that her son's passion for reading began at the library and, "It's paid off in his life in many ways; some that have a clearly identifiable worth and others that you just can't put a price tag on."
Thank you to all who took the time to enter, and congratulations to all of the winners.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Mary Lysaght is the Assistant Supervisor at the Rocky Bluff Branch Library.