There is a lot going on in our three Costa Mesa libraries.
People are checking out books, students are doing homework, people of all ages are doing research for projects, and there are people working on English as a second language. There are programs for children and for adults, librarians are answering reference questions, helping people find books and other information.
At the Dungan Library, there are groups meeting in the community room as well as others getting passport photos and applying for passports. People are also getting help in their use of the computers. Not just how to operate them, but also how to navigate through the slough of Internet garbage to get what is wanted.
So when I hear people say "we don't need libraries anymore because we have the Internet," I have to laugh. When I hear that all books will soon be electronic, I don't laugh because a lot of them will be. But it is going to be a long, long time before all books are available in digital form.
It may be longer yet before die-hards will finally give up and read paperless books. And though people are doing a lot of "socializing" online on Facebook, real human contact will not go out of style. As the Barbra Streisand song goes: "People need people."
I do get wound up talking about libraries, and I know there are a lot of Costa Mesans who feel the same way. A public library is the one source of education that serves everybody of all ages, rich and poor, equally.
But a library can only do this well when it is supported by the public it serves. So you out there – you lovers of books both paper and electronic, you parents of children who need to become better readers, you lovers of knowledge shared, please become involved with your libraries. They need you.
For those of you whose children may need a particular classic book for a reading assignment, I have good news. The Friends bookstore behind the Mesa Verde Library has a whole bookcase full of them, and there is a very good chance you will find what you need. The price will probably be between 50 cents and $1. The store is open every day except Monday, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Finally, National Library Week starts Sunday and goes through April 16. All week, the Newport Beach Public Library invites children to attend a storytime with a special guest reader: a local city official. The Mayor, City Manager and City Council members will be lending their talents to story times at all branches of the NBPL, said Katherine Mielke, the library's spokeswoman.
Check out the library's kids' website, http://www.newportkids.org, for all information about the story times with Newport Beach city officials and special family programs during this week.
A Dr. Seuss Storytime took place March 15 at the Donald Dungan Library. A costumed Tina Cahill read "The Cat in the Hat" to the delight of the 40 children and parents in attendance. The children then decorated cookies with frosting and sprinkles, and celebrated their work by eating them.
For mystery fans who like to read books set in California, Kirk Russell's "Dead Game" will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. on April 26 at the Dungan Library. Books are available at the checkout desk for the month prior to the meeting. For more details, ask the information desk or call (949) 646-8845 and ask for Samantha.
There are two upcoming events at the Mesa Verde Library that those of you with children will like to know about. The first is Read OC – Family Reading Time, which is held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m on the second Thursday of each month. This is for children under 5 years of age and is for parents as well. There will be stories, crafts and a free book for each family.
The second event is on April 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. The Sunshine Storyteller, Ina Buckner-Barnette, will tell some amazing tales that will "ignite your imagination, tickle your funny bone and help you shine like the sun."
Children can travel the globe with participatory stories and songs without leaving their seats. Families may sign-up for this interactive program at the children's desk. The Mesa Verde Library phone number is (714) 546-5274.
MARY ELLEN GODDARD wrote this column on behalf of Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries and the Costa Mesa Library Foundation.