What#8217;s in your library?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

There is a sparkling gem in our neighborhood, one that receives little recognition and rarely searches for the spotlight.

It is the Blackwater Regional Library, with nine branches from Smithfield to Franklin and many places in between. When adding the bookmobile service, access is quite widespread.

Blackwater Regional Library, so named in 2001, sprang from a single branch: the Walter Cecil Rawls Library and Museum. In June 1958, the facility was dedicated for the use of the people of Southampton County and nearby communities. Rawls, born in Southampton County and crippled by polio at 18 months, dreamed of a central library system.

Since that time, the types of services have grown, as has the number of locations.

But next week, April 13-19, is National Library Week. If you haven’t been in touch with the local branch of the library system recently, it is a good time to renew your acquaintance.

During the week there are special

events and programs. These are held throughout the year, but this special schedule is the perfect time to see what your library is all about.

For those who have yet to visit your local branch, we’re not going to criticize, only encourage you to rethink your choices.

New residents — or newcomers to the library — can get information about the schools, local agencies and services, maps and local regulations and officials.

As part of this annual event branches of the Blackwater Regional Library will be celebrating with a variety of programs. A calendar for the week —and any week during the year — can be found on the Web site at www.blackwaterlib.org.

Perhaps no other group of patrons gets better treatment at the local libraries than children.

Children can come to a story time,

meet an author or illustrator, participate in special programs, dig in a children’s garden, use computers, get help with their homework and find books, magazines and videos just for their age level. Parents who homeschool can find books and other materials and programs to help educate their children.

Library branches have public computers with free Internet access and databases to help with research, as well as wireless internet access.

But here’s an added benefit of National Library Week: A moratorium on fines for overdue materials. Fines will be waived for all overdue materials returned next week.

The local branches are open 52 weeks a year. This is one week to rediscover — or discover — a gem that awaits.