Flipping through the TV channels the other day, I got a hit of my 90’s childhood nostalgia when I landed on a rerun of “Arthur” on PBS. After the standard and frustrating contemplation of how in fact Arthur’s glasses can possibly stay on his face, one of the more memorable episodes came to mind. It was the episode when D.W. got her first library card and the debut of Arthur’s breakout hit song “Having fun isn’t hard when you got a library card.” Not only is it a catchy song I can’t get out of my head, I think Arthur was onto something.
In the age of Amazon, libraries have been overshadowed, garnering an unfounded reputation of being antiquated or ineffectual. But just like the 90’s nostalgia of my childhood, what’s old is new again, and libraries are right on trend.
I thought I had been taking advantage of our libraries, from checking out the latest bestsellers, music, movies, and videogames, to simply finding a quiet, cozy corner to work. But no. I realized I was merely skimming the surface the moment I picked up a brochure next to the checkout area. I was completely overwhelmed when I saw the seemingly endless list of upcoming events, programs and services they were offering at just this one location FOR FREE. Yes, for free.
I have rediscovered our libraries and found books are just a fraction of what they offer. Because both Hennepin and Ramsey County libraries boast such a myriad of classes, clubs, and events for all ages that are ever-changing and expanding, I highlighted some of the most popular, fun, and unique classes and events that you definitely need to explore.
For the Teens
I couldn’t imagine myself wanting to relive my high school years, but when I discovered the Teen Tech Workshop and the Technology and Art Design Lab, I had a change of heart. For those entering grades six through twelve, the Tech Workshop allows you to explore your creativity by making music, videos, animation and other projects with technology that includes 3D printers, iPads, Raspberry Pi, and Lego Robotics. The Technology and Art Design Lab provides all materials for you to dabble with 3D design, fashion, cosplay, and circuitry.
Families and Kids
For the younger crowd there’s Family Storytime where kids of all ages gather to talk, sing, read, write, and play together. Many of the library locations also offer movie screenings that are always kid and family friendly. Bring your own pillows and blankets and get comfy watching films like “Finding Nemo” and “Zootopia.” And if you’re more into live performances, they have guest presenters with their hands-on series Live Show and their six-week Storybook Theater Camp. Live Show runs the gamut exploring physics, rainforest creatures (they do bring in live animals!) puppets, and more. For those participating in Storybook Theater Camp, you learn how to rehearse and present a play that you’ll be able to perform for your friends and family at the end of the six-week workshop.
I had to resist signing up for every class I came across especially when I discovered they offer small business consultations, resume assistance, and job search assistance. Who knew you could enter the library a novice and leave an entrepreneur? With these classes, you’re able to meet confidentially one-on-one with a business counselor to develop a business plan, discuss a new idea, or tackle a roadblock. You can also meet individually with a certified professional resume writer to refine your resume, go over interview questions, and assist in finding leads and resources in your job search. The libraries also offer classes on computer basics, English language learning, college prep, and even assist you with genealogy research.
So after you’ve started your own business, traced your family tree, or found your dream job, you can relax by indulging in one of the libraries’ many clubs. From book clubs, guest authors, knitting and chess clubs, to writing classes and poetry readings, you will find your niche.
Now dig out your library card from the depths of your wallet and find your nearest library immediately to discover everything they can offer you! Libraries are back.
Hennepin County Library: hclib.org
Ramsey County Library: rclreads.org