Valdosta Daily Times

March 21, 2013

Library patrons give love, hearts to libraries

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — There’s a lot of love for libraries in Lowndes, Lanier, and Echols counties, and they have the hearts to prove it.

In February, dubbed “I Love My Library” month, library patrons throughout Lowndes, Lanier and Echols filled out pink, white and red  paper hearts, writing down what they loved best about their library. In two weeks, they received more than 400.

“We got more hearts raving about library staff members than anything else,” said Patrick Spurlock, community relations and development coordinator for the South Georgia Regional Library system, which has libraries in Lowndes, Lanier and Echols.

Also high on the patrons’ heart list were the high level of computer access, being able to check out books and DVDs. Using the library as a place to socialize and meet friends were also high on patrons’ hearts.

“Last year, we had 125,000 individual computer logins throughout the system,” said Spurlock. “That’s one for every person in the area.”

“It means a lot to see people explaining to the community why the library is important,” said Kelly Lenz, South Georgia Regional Library director.

The hearts also told stories.

Take, for example, the story of a man who came to the library almost every day for two years, searching for job openings online, only missing a day when he got an interview. He stopped showing up every day when he got hired onto a construction crew that, ironically, was building right next to the library.

Or take the story of the pre-K teacher who uses the library to prep lesson plans. Or the home school group that meets there. As the hearts show, patrons have a variety of reasons for loving their library.

“Libraries are really at a crossroad,” said Spurlock. “There’s people saying that now, with the Internet, there’s no reason for libraries anymore, but with libraries, there’s no upfront cost.”

For people who love their library, there are a number of ways to help it. Volunteers can donate books, raise funds or join the Friends of the Library organization. They can also help out just by talking about the library.

“One of the best things people can do for their library is to talk about it with people,” said Lenz. “Word of mouth makes a big impact.”