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More than just books

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, March 2010; written by Lisa Pearson.

The recurring message coming from libraries around the country is “We’re not just books”. This is equally true here at the Ketchikan Public Library, where we have offered information in a variety of formats for years. (I don’t think we ever had 8-tracks, but we did have a collection of LP records and cassette tapes available for checkout). Unfortunately, librarians have had a hard time updating their stereotype from bun-wearing, glasses-toting shushers carefully standing guard over shelves of dusty books. Ever the optimist, I’m going to take another crack at the image of libraries.

We have magazines. In fact, we subscribe to over 150 magazines, and we tweak the offerings a little each year. We’ve recently begun offering The Cross Stitcher magazine, a monthly periodical with dozens of cross-stitch patterns and project ideas. If you’re planning on doing a little traveling this spring, but don’t want to go too far from home, check out Northwest Travel magazine. Published every other month, this magazine present photographs and travel articles about Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. The current issue has a cover story on 6 historic lodges in Washington and Oregon, written by the author of “Great Lodges of the West”. There is also a very fun article by a writer from North Carolina who took a flightseeing tour of Misty Fjords. For those of you who like the challenge of decorating on a shoestring budget (or perhaps you’re just a natural DIYer), try ReadyMade magazine, which is full of home, craft and garden projects that are recycling on steroids. You might want to think twice about the AstroTurf couch, however.

We have music. From the works of Mozart and Verdi to Celtic punk to Christian rock, we have a wide-ranging selection of popular, classical, jazz and world music. Some of our latest titles include “Panama!: latin, calypso, and funk on the isthmus, 1965-1975”, which features a variety of performers, as well as “Transference”, the new album by indie favorite Spoon. We also have new albums by Native American artists Robert Tree Cody and Primeaux & Mike. Best of all, if you’re looking for a way to keep updated about the latest CDs we’ve put on the shelf, you can now click on the ‘New Audio’ link in our online catalog (go to We update this list on a weekly basis, so you can keep the music in your CD player fresh.

We have movies. Everyone’s in love with Netflix now, but I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve heard people lament the fact that they wasted their Netflix rental on a DVD that we had sitting on the library shelf. Interested in the unusual? “Between the folds: a film about finding inspiration in unexpected places” is an hour-long documentary about origami and modern-day paperfolders. It sounds dull on paper, but it’s actually a fascinating look at art and science and the way they are intertwined. On a goofier note, we have 4 classic Elvis Presley films in one package, including “Jailhouse Rock” and “Charro!”, just in time for the King’s 75th birthday. Fans of independent films will enjoy “Amreeka”, a sweet film about a Palestinian single mother who moves to Illinois with her son and attempts to find her own American dream.

We have audiobooks. If you have trouble finding some quiet time in your busy schedule to sit down and read, try listening to one of the latest popular novels. Perhaps a romance from Adriana Trigiani (“Brava, Valentine”), an Alaskan mystery from Sue Henry (“The End of the Road”) or a follow-up to Steven Levitt’s wildly popular book “Freakonomics” (“Superfreakonomics: global cooling, patriotic prostitutes and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance”). While you’re driving, washing dishes, working out or folding laundry, these fun books will make the time fly by too quickly.

Come on in and see what we have to offer. We’re a whole lot more than just books.

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