When we lived in Tallahasssee I never really visited the county library. The main branch is located downtown and parking in downtown is a hassle. Sure there were other extensions but they were located in strip malls and had all the panache of a library in a strip mall.

Wakulla County Public Library Website

Wakulla County Public Library Website

Recently we’ve been going to the Wakulla County Public Library almost every weekend. Olie is old enough now that he enjoys hopping on the iMacs to play Reader Rabbit or playing with puzzles and other fun things while Daddy is off looking for books for himself or the boy.

The library has a small catalog but good enough for a small county. The children’s section is just fine. There are computers to use for the adults but they’re Windoze boxes hogged by teens on MySpace. Periodicals are myeah but who needs it when there’s the Net. Yep, they have free wireless that runs at a decent clip with a single, anonymous signon pointing to the library’s site first. Handy to start my searching of the catalog using my iPod Touch. When surfing with the laptop, I’m constrained with 2 or 3 others at the only table with a power outlet nearby. Oh well. Good enough.

They also have events here and there of interest. Computer classes: all M$ stuff, of course. Family movie nights. Genealogy in pajamas (whatever that is). Many more.

Plenty of quiet meeting space. Thinking of starting a MUG or some other user group.

But it’s gotta be the staff that really makes it one of those special hometown libraries. Usually the bigger the city, the bigger the library, the worse the staff. At the WCPL the staff — mostly volunteers on the weekends — is great. This morning I was trying to track down a request I put in for a book via FirstSearch Intralibrary Loan database. No record. The librarian took the time to put in a new request while she clearly had other things to do. I told here when she had a chance was fine – I was in no rush. I meandered around the library for a while. She tracked me down and told me the book was too new to be acquired but that the record would remain. But she also went out of her way to ask if I would like to submit a purchase request for the book or 3 or 4 other books by the same author. “Sure, if it’s not too much trouble” I said. “No trouble at all, Mr. Robinson” she replied. Wow. That’s service.

Lookybook.com

Lookybook.com

Once we had our stack of books for the week we proceeded to the checkout where the same librarian was busy helping others. We patiently waited while she provided the same great service to the other patrons in front of us. She would scan in a book and mention how if they liked that book they may want to check out such-n-such by so-n-so. Damn, she was like Amazon. Our turn finally came and when she saw one of Olie’s books she mentioned this great website called Lookybook.com, showing us a preview on the monitor. The site is just too cool to describe. It uses a nice clean interface and fast flash to thumb through hundreds of childrens book with your child. Links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and (for the fortunate who have local bookstores that participate) Booksense.com provide quick purchasing power. I’m sure many parents have fallen for Amazon reviews that never lived up to the book. I have. But now with Lookybook.com I can fall for the book itself.

Anyway, if you haven’t been in a while you should check out your local library, say hi to the librarian, find out what events are happening, and maybe how you can help.

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