Have you dropped by your library lately? If not, it’s time for a visit to an award-winning Manatee County Public Library where you’ll find friendly and well-trained staff, as well as an excellent selection of books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, popular magazines and local newspapers.
But your local library is so much more. Public libraries are now the heart of the community and a hub of activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. You will discover busy creative spaces for business groups, crafting enthusiasts, children and teens involved in technology projects, intense chess games or lively book discussions. Each library has public internet-ready computers and printers available for people to job hunt, study for tests, search for social services, do research, or just to use for entertainment.
In addition, there are computer classes, tech help, assistance on how to download eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, movies, and more from the library’s free databases, OverDrive, Hoopla, OneClickdigital and Freegal Music. Some locations have Master Gardeners available to answer questions. Meeting rooms can be reserved by non-profit groups, and there are quiet rooms and areas for study and tutoring. For specific details and contact information, check the online monthly calendar.
At the Central Library, a chess club meets every Saturday. On select Saturdays, international chess master Jim Skeels offers instruction at the giant chess board. Recent local history displays featured the South Florida Museum and Cubano-Americans and the Cigar Culture. Telescopes and binoculars are the latest addition to the library catalog.
At the Rocky Bluff Library in Ellenton, the RKB Art Club is popular with kids ages 6-12, and a different artist is featured each month. For adults, there is the Lunch, Listen and Learn series on third Thursdays through March. Different artists perform, talk about their music or instrument, and answer questions. Also popular are Mahjong Tuesdays, Color Therapy Thursdays (coloring for adults), and the “Storybook Café” is a popular spot to grab a beverage, snack or meal.
The Friends of the Island Library in Holmes Beach present their popular January through March lecture and travel series, featuring well-known local personalities on current topics. There are also clubs for knitting and crocheting, origami, coloring and chess, and a puzzle table.
The South Manatee Library schedule includes adult restorative yoga, and ongoing children’s and adult programs including Coloring Therapy, crocheting and knitting clubs, story times, book clubs and a conversational English class. Teens love the innovative tech classes.
The age 7 and older youth at the Palmetto Library explore technology in their Creator’s Club and children up to age 5 enjoy Musical Motion. The whole family is welcome at Family Fun Night and for Movie Matinees. Adults enjoy the Friends of the Library programs and mahjong and chess clubs.
At the Braden River Library, the Friends of the Library sponsors entertaining adult programs from January through March. Families enjoy Lego Family Fun and Reading to the Dogs, and adults participate in the memoir writing group, the Chess Club, and three book discussion groups; including Classics Up Close, Murder by the Book, and the Evening Book Group. In the summer, Teen Tech Buddies provide one-on-one assistance.
Manatee County Public Libraries are thriving and have much to offer. Take advantage of Library Lovers Month and find out for yourself.
Central Library: 941-748-5555; Braden River: 941-727-6079; Island: 941-778-6341; Palmetto: 941-722-3333; Rocky Bluff: 941-723-4821; South Manatee: 941-755-3892. You may also access the library via mymanatee.org/library.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Judy Mullen is the Assistant Supervisor at the Braden River branch.