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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
March 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Eclectic Observer
by Janet Ross
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Janet Ross
Janet Ross

Twenty years ago I wrote my first column for Senior Spectrum. It appeared in the April 1998 edition with the title "Nevada Libraries Offer Vast " and began (after noting the dates of National Library Week) with There was a time when the word "library"meant just books to most of us. We remember the hushed atmosphere, cabinets of drawers filled with catalog cards, and row after row of shelved crammed with books of all kinds. We may also remember a crusty Librarian who silenced us with a stern look, or admonished "you're not old enough to read that." I went on to say, Libraries still have books in abundance but … card catalogs have been replaced with computers. Crusty Librarians may still exist; more often, your library contact will be a young paraprofessional who'll greet you several decibels above a whisper.

Following that introduction I went on to list the many types of materials and services on offer from our libraries. They included videos (now replaced by DVDs), audio cassettes (ah, currently CDs that may also be a dying technology), typewriters (public computers with connected printers), coffee bars (these have come and gone and come again in some locations), government documents (you'll find them online these days), microfilm and microfiche (mostly in research facilities now), auto and antique price guides (again, online), telephone directories (ditto). And so it has gone, over twenty years of many changes in the world of libraries.

Washoe County Library System currently has twelve branch locations with the mother of them all still the downtown Reno architectural treasure. Branches shared with local schools have lived and died, along with a Bookmobile. The library website is a gold mine of information and worth a lengthy browse from the comfort of your home – or in a library of your choice. Check it out at www.washoecountylibrary. us. New this year is a Museum Pass feature that, with some restrictions, will get you free admission to many museums. There's a course for Learning to Code, a page in Spanish. Under Services you'll find Studio 775 – take a look at this innovative program.

The Carson City Library, a separate public entity from the Washoe or other county systems, recently completed an eightweek refurbishment project with a Grand Reopening in mid February. They have a website, too, and it's another gold mine. Carson City's Library has Kindles to loan and recently gained status as a NASA Library. Take a look at Their Friends of the Library volunteer organization has its own, separately housed, book store across the street from the Library – worth a visit by bargain book hunters.

This year National Library Week is April 8-14. There will be special programs, promotions and events at most public libraries. In addition, consider exploring the specialized offerings of academic libraries at UNR, TMCC, WNCC, hospital medical libraries and the Washoe County Law Library. And, as Nevadans, we have good reason to be proud of the Nevada State Library in Carson City.

Twenty years later you'll find me at the Library – as a volunteer at the Sparks Branch of Washoe County. I've changed, along with the Library, trying to catch up with the almost daily advances of technology, but one thing has not changed: Libraries are the life blood of our society. Support yours!

Washoe Library System