Ruthie Maslin

Ruthie Maslin, Director Madison County Public Library

Even though I was a little late to planting this spring, my little garden has already yielded two kinds of basil, chives, four varieties of peppers, and now the tomatoes are beginning to come in.

As I was picking my first crop of cherry tomatoes this week, my neighbor walked over to give me a bag of cucumbers from her garden. A couple of days earlier, a friend from ukulele club gave me a bag of heirloom tomatoes from her garden. And a month or so ago, a library customer shared a bumper crop of cucumbers he had grown from seeds from our annual Madison County Public Library seed library (we distributed about 14,000 seed packs this year).

The things I love about gardening are also things I love about the library -- variety and "shareability." I love checking my garden in the morning to see what I will be eating that day. I love that new things will ripen throughout the growing season.

But if you have ever grown a garden yourself, you know things ripen in bunches. Rarely will you get just one tomato. All of a sudden, you have several ready to pick. And it is this aspect of gardening that typically leads to sharing. It's not uncommon during the summer to find a bag of produce on the break room table -- the fruits of someone's harvest they have brought in to share.

In much the same way, the public library serves as a nexus for sharing not only ideas and information, but also the books and materials themselves. And not only are there always new books to check out with your library card, there are always new ways of accessing library materials.

A good example is a new digital service MCPL launched this week -- Hoopla. Hoopla lets you download or stream materials with your library card. There are audio books, eBooks, music, movies, even TV shows.

I installed the free app on my iPad and set up an account by choosing my library and entering my library card number and PIN. It actually took me longer to find the note on my phone with my library card number and PIN than it did to set the whole thing up. It's that quick and easy.

And while my staff and my friends at other libraries have been raving about Hoopla for some time now, with the construction and end-of-fiscal year reporting, I haven't really had time to check it out. Until now, that is. And when I did, I was super impressed!

For example, I was immediately excited to see a new-to-me author, Blake Pierce, with two compelling titles on the very front page -- If She Knew and If She Ran. They are part of Blake's Kate Wise mystery series, and I am definitely going to read them.

And you know what TV binge watcher I am, so I was excited to see a couple series I wanted to watch, including Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (the Dune book series is one of my all-time favorites).

There are also comic books, soundtracks and albums, and even popular feature films.

Right now, each customer has three downloads per month. One of the neat things about this platform as opposed to some of the others is that everything you see is available. You can even enable the "Kids" setting to allow your little ones to browse to their hearts' content.

If you feel unsure about setting it up, our very helpful library can walk you through the steps.

I hope you get a chance to check out this new service soon. And I hope to see you August 23 and 24 for the grand opening of the new addition at our Richmond location. Friday will be the ribbon cutting at noon, and Saturday will be a day full of fun and activities for all ages from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. I'll see you soon at the library!

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