BELOIT - What can you do at the Beloit Public Library?
• Play games
If you said all three, you would be correct.
It's simply not your grandmother's library anymore. No longer do patrons sit on hard wooden chairs at long wooden tables. And staff members are no longer likely to "shhhh" you.
Things have changed considerably at the library, 605 Eclipse Blvd., in the 125 years of services to the community, says Director Nick Dimassis, in discussing how the library has evolved.
The ambiance in the library has changed from a formal quiet place of old to a more informal site, while still encouraging literacy, staff members say.
A greater emphasis is now on interactive activities, for example, especially in the busiest department, the children's area.
One feature in the kids' space presently is the chicken coop where children can learn shapes and colors.
"The key to interactive activities is that it also pulls the parents in," Dimassis said.
For youth and adults, books and periodicals are still available, but so are digital devices.
In 2007, Kindles came to the library and in 2010, iPads. DVDs, CDs and audio books also are all available for checkout. There is a computer lab, especially for those seeking employment applications. Staff will help those needing assistance on the computers, Dimassis said.
"If they are out of a job, they can do all of the email government work here," he said.
Use of the library tends to follow the economy, he pointed out. In 2009 there was a spike in usage as the economy took a downward slide.
"Now use is coming back down to a more normal trend," he said.
People are also using more digital resources such as downloading ebooks from the library. They can be downloaded if a patron has a library card from just about any location, said head of library services Jeni Schomber.
Programs at the Beloit library also are increasing in Beloit and nationally.
There are programs for youths and adults including book discussion groups, movie nights, genealogy research opportunities, a Stateline Night Writers group, crafts, story times and more.
On the second Saturday of the month (except for July and August), the Friends of Beloit Library offer a used book sale from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Another activity is game night. On Wednesday nights, "gamers" can gather in the Riverside Room and play card games or video games. One popular card game is Yu Gi Oh.
Those still wanting a quiet place to read or study can use the enclosed Riverside Room with the cozy fireplace and comfortable furnishings during other days and evenings.
If you're hankering for a cup of coffee, sandwich or sweet treat, the library also offers the Blender Café. High school students are hired by the library and run the operation, allowing them to earn cash and class credits as part of the culinary arts program at Beloit Memorial High School.
Library patron Carolyn Hansen recently enjoyed lunch in the café and read a book she had checked out.
"I love it," she said of the café. "It's terrific. I come here and get good food and good treatment. Like a home away from home, what more could you want from a library?"
As for celebrating the 125 years of the library, events are still in the planning stage. But helping the institution acknowledge the special year is the abstract art work to be exhibited throughout the library provided by artist Tom Portz.
While much has changed, a key element of the library is that usage is still free.
"I think that's the constant; the free services," Dimassis said.
For more information about library services or programs, the library's newsletter is available in print at the site or visit www.beloitlibrary.org.