Children, students and adults alike browse shelves of Pullman's Neill Public Library in search of that certain book or DVD in which they can escape.
Founded in 1922, the library started as a children's collection. As it became more popular, more donations helped it become what it is today, a place from where anyone can borrow a book, DVD, newspaper, magazine or take advantage of the quiet environment.
“The founding leaders recognized the importance of literacy right from the get-go,” said Children's Librarian Kathleen Ahern. “They knew that in order for a community to thrive there needed to be a public library.”
Sarah Morrison, the adult services librarian, said the need for a library stemmed from people’s need to learn on their own.
“The feeling towards public libraries in the early 1900s was a very American thing,” Morrison said. “Educate yourself, pull yourself up and better yourself because you could learn on your own and then get a better job. You didn't have to have a degree."
The library has several things to offer students of any age: fiction and nonfiction in formats like e-books, e-audios, CDs, databases for research, periodicals, newspapers and magazines.
“We also have free Wi-Fi, which we know a lot of students take advantage of,” Morrison said. “We have public computers, which are free with the library card and those have Word, Excel, access to the Internet, printing, and they can accommodate a flash drive.”
Ahern talked about a parent center and ESL classes the library offers.
“We also have an active parent resource center, which is a specific collection obviously designed (for) parents and caregivers of young children,” she said.
Yet another resource the two librarians are proud of is the “check out a librarian” service. Morrison explained the resource is a period of 25 minutes anyone with a library card can use to receive help from a librarian.
“There are many benefits to this. One is that... appointment gives you an uninterrupted 25 minutes where we can focus on the research topic or question,” Morrison said. “It also gives the librarians time to prepare material in advance, get the books, take a closer look at applicable databases.”
Debby Stinson, marketing manager at the WSU Museum of Art, said her family has frequented the library since 2002 and visits three to four times a week.
“We came here originally for our daughter because she was a little girl, and we were picking out books to read,” she said.
Stinson also said the library offers them a variety of material and services.
“One of the things that I love about the Pullman library is if they have a section that's a little low on a certain topic and you mention to them a favorite book or something new that'll add to the selection, nine times out of ten they'll order the book or the DVD,” she said. “It's the only library I've been to, including Moscow, who consistently offers that service.”
The only change Stinson would like to see would affect the library’s hours of operation.
“Many people get off of work at five or six, and those are the hours that the library closes,” she said. “I think it would be a wonderful resource for families in the evening to have access to.”
Jill Warwick, a junior communication major, said she got a library card because it allowed her to access fictional books to read for fun when she is not focusing on school work.
“The library is really close to my apartment, so I figured that it would be more convenient than walking up to the school library,” she said. “I just look through and pick out books that I like to read for fun and check them out.”
Warwick said she recommends getting a library card (they're free for Pullman residents, including students). She said obtaining a card is easy, and the staff on hand is friendly and answers questions.
“I like the environment,” she said. “Everyone is kind of quiet, but it's not like a deafening quiet. It's just people minding their own business and looking at magazines and newspapers.”
As far as students are concerned, Warwick liked that the public library offers a place away from home where people can work on homework.
“College students can probably go there too because it's probably less crowded than Holland (Library), and you don't have to worry about finding seats,” she said. “A lot of people like to spread out, and there's places to spread out there if it's not too busy.”