Wayne County Wanderings: The Importance of Reading

From my seat in the corner of the second floor reading room, I can see so many interesting things.

To my left a middle-aged gentleman sits absorbed in the newest book by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin: “Leadership in Turbulent Times.”

At the table to my right, a young woman is poring over documents, entering data on her laptop using the free wi-fi connection.

Muffled laughter wafts up the staircase from the first floor. There in the children's section, a young mom is helping her little ones discover the joys of reading.

The room in which I've hunkered down is well-lit, clean and warm. The stacks are neat and extremely well-organized. I'm doing a little bit of research for a future piece, and the staff has made that easy. They are patient, kind and courteous … an absolute credit to their profession.

To be honest, I can't think of a better place to spend a couple of hours on a bitterly cold winter afternoon than right here at the Wayne County Public Library.

Learned Legacy

As the son of two English teachers, I grew up in a home surrounded by books.

My Mom taught classics from Shakespeare to Dickens, while my Dad leaned more toward the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and supernatural fiction.

They always told my brothers and me as we were growing up: “I don't care what you read, as long as you read something.”

It's a message I took to heart and passed on to my own children. And, with the dawn of another new year, I'm taking this opportunity to rededicate myself to reading.

I'd also like to tell you a little bit about the all the amazing resources available at your local public libraries.

In an era of “facts” and so-called “alternative facts,” it's reassuring to know that these places exist … historic edifices in which learning is king and knowledge is available to everyone.

Passionate Advocate

Tracy Schwarz has had a lifelong love affair with books. She grew up here in Honesdale and has always been a passionate advocate of reading

Tracy began working here on North Main Street in 2006. Now, some 13 years later, she's risen in the ranks to Director of the Wayne County Public Library. She also serves as System Administrator of the Wayne Library Alliance.

On Friday morning, Tracy took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk about the importance of libraries in general and reading in particular.

“Honestly, I really feel lost when I don't have a book with me,” she said. “I love reading because it opens up portals to other worlds. It lets me visit places that I might never be able to actually go.

“Books are so important, especially for children, because it helps them to understand others. Reading is such a great way for kids to grow intellectually and emotionally.”

Tracy is proud of the fact that we have so many well-stocked libraries here in Wayne County … and, that these libraries are staffed with incredibly helpful and dedicated folks.

There are seven separate locations within the Wayne Library Alliance: Honesdale, Hawley, Hamlin, Newfoundland, Bethany, Pleasant Mount and Lakewood (a/k/a: Northern Wayne).

Each acts independently, but also has close ties to the others so that they can all combine resources.

“My biggest goal in life has always been to help people,” Tracy said. “And libraries are the perfect place to do that. We have something for everyone from ages 1-100.”

More Than Books

While books will always be first and foremost in their realm, modern libraries offer so much more than just hardcovers and paperbacks.

“We really try to be a resource anyone can access 24/7,” Tracy said. “We have so many things available online for people who just can't get here.”

•IndieFlix is a streaming service that offers library patrons a chance to view films which “promote and support social impact films to create positive change in the world.”

•Tutor.com is an online company that “offers on-demand and scheduled tutoring to students in grades four through 12 and college. Users can connect with tutors in many subjects including math, science, essay writing, foreign language and test prep.”

•Flipster is an app that provides “access to leading digital magazines on online or on a smartphone.”

These are just a few of the myriad services available through the Wayne County Library Alliance. For a full list, please visit the website: waynelibraries.org.

Can't find the book you want or need? Don't hesitate to ask! Local libraries have access to countless volumes through the wide-scale Interlibrary Loan Service.

Need a passport? Folks at both the Hawley and Hamlin can help you apply.

The list of services goes on and on...

Resolutions

I know how busy our lives are these days and how easy it is to become hopelessly distracted by social media.

However, when it comes to energizing your brain and feeding your soul, there's nothing quite like reading … and the Library Alliance is the perfect place to start.

The Wayne County Public Library in Honesdale is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

For specific hours, especially during the notoriously unpredictable NEPA winters, please call or check the website.

Generally speaking, though, here are the current hours for Wayne County Library Alliance locations and their phone numbers...

•Bethany: Wednesday through Saturday (570-253-4349)

•Hamlin: Tuesday through Saturday (570-689-0903)

•Hawley: Tuesday through Saturday (570-226-4620)

•Lakewood: Tuesday through Saturday (570-798-2444)

•Newfoundland: Closed Wednesday and Sunday (570-676-4518)

•Pleasant Mount: Tuesday through Saturday (570-448-2573).

The bottom line for our local libraries is that their doors are open to all.

“Everyone is welcome here,” Tracy said. “Skin color, religion, political views … none of those things matter. We're all about diversity and helping people learn.”