Friday, December 15, 2017

The San Diego Public Library Isn't Just About Checking Out Books

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By Carol Cooper

There was a time when libraries were places where most people got the books they wanted to read and did research by browsing through huge encyclopedias and thick volumes of reference materials. Today, books are just a download away, and you can look up anything if you have internet access and some sense. Many consider public institutions like libraries a thing of the past, but there are facilities like the San Diego Public Library that are offering a host of important, and free, services.

Getting homework done correctly and on time can be difficult for many students. Parents aren't always helpful and the organizations that offer after school programs normally charge a weekly or monthly fee not all families can afford. In many instances, libraries have stepped into the breech offering free school materials, online access, and tutoring for kids with cards. Volunteers and teachers take their time to help kids from five to eighteen with school assignments at no charge.

It is amazing to realize that, in this day and time, there are many people who can't read at all or read on such a low level that they are functionally illiterate. This is often the result of poverty, disability, and academic failure. Many immigrants don't read English. Without help, these people find it almost impossible to get decent jobs. The San Diego facilities are working with tutors who volunteer their time to teach adult reading and writing skills.

Mental health issues are another big problem in the country that affect a fifth of the population. Libraries in this city provide individuals with professional help in gaining access to housing opportunities, medical attention, counseling, and nutritious meals. They also assist them with educational and employment opportunities.

Libraries can be intimidating places for people with disabilities. There are libraries that have made special areas available where disabled individuals can come to read, work and relax. There are adjustable tables and workstations. Computers with special software and extra large screens and all kinds of audio, Braille, and large print books are available.

Not all families are lucky enough to be able to afford personal computers in their homes. In today's world, this can make everything complicated. Libraries have banks of computers available for patrons to use free of charge. This includes internet access, printing, and photocopying. In many of the facilities there are specific computers designated for children.

San Diego is included in a network of libraries officially designated by the federal government as patent and trademark resource centers. Patent research can be time consuming and complicated. Staff members are available to give assistance, but they are not lawyers, don't give legal advice, or do the research for their patrons.

Modern libraries aren't just for people who love to read books. They are publicly funded facilities that offer all kinds of free services to anyone who takes out a card and is a member in good standing. You never know what you might find the next time you visit your local library.

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