Welcome You To The  3D Printing Zoom Store…

The cold weather self-care cart at the Western Pocono Community Library contains hygiene products as well as gloves, hats and socks, as seen on Thursday, February 22, 2024.

Monroe County Libraries offer 3D printers, games, yoga and more

The word “library” literally cannot be written without “book” – after all, that is the meaning of the Latin “liber”. But as readers abandon the printed pages of yore in favor of e-books and iPads, libraries have introduced a wide range of programs and services, almost always free, to win people back.

The Western Pocono Community Library, for example, dramatically expanded its children’s programming in 2021 by setting up playgrounds, purchasing equipment like a 3D printer and even bringing in a hamster that library patrons named Hamlet – except he bites.

“We have families that come here and play for hours,” Brodheadsville Library Director Patti Weiss said as four young children milled around behind her. “We wanted to give the kids a safe place to play, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Rose Polat, who took her children to Western Pocono on her day off from school, said they often told her, “Please Mom, we want to go to the library!”

Much of the library’s programming, while superficially just fun and games, is designed to educate children. These include Western Pocono’s “First Experience Kits” – bags of costumes and booklets aimed at preparing little ones for endeavors like getting a haircut or going to the dentist, sometimes scary situations, according to Weiss.

Polat noted that her youngest daughter compares her library experiences to those of her school-aged siblings.

“This is my school,” Polat told her three-year-old daughter.

In addition to the children’s program, Western Pocono recently expanded its offerings for seniors. In January, the library began offering a type of goodie bag specifically for people with dementia.

“I’ve been here for 20 years. You get to know people and then watch them age, which isn’t always fun,” Weiss said. “But when you see them find the programs that we have — we do rock paintings, pressed flowers, things like that — and that makes them not only find friends to talk to, but now we can too help with their memory.” .”

Games have also become a staple in local libraries. In Western Pocono there is a boisterous group of regulars who stop by for mahjong, a Chinese tile-laying game, while the Clymer Library in Pocono has Pines bridge and chess.

The library is “the perfect place for it,” said Ian Boyd, the soft-spoken chess club leader and Clymer Library staff member. “I think people are really craving that kind of connection after the pandemic, everyone was stuck at home for so long.”

Bob Price, a former commuter with a striking white beard, said he had played chess at Clymer almost every Thursday since the club’s founding last summer.

“This is the only place here that does this,” Price said as he intentionally hit a tower.

Other unique Clymer offerings include video gaming – complete with gaming chairs and curved monitors – and Zumba, starting March 5. The Clymer Library has a special focus on STEAM programming, which includes science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“We want to introduce people to different types of learning experiences,” said Melissa Lopez, director of Clymer Library. Lopez noted that her library offers such programs for all ages, from unstructured LEGO play for the “real little ones” to the MakerSpace, which includes cutting machines for a variety of materials and, like the Western Pocono Community Library, a 3D printer .

“If you have a few minutes and want to spend some time talking with your friends, you can do simple projects,” said Miss Love, the tech-savvy children’s librarian from Clymer, who asked to be identified only by the name on her mug .

The Clymer Library also offers yoga classes, as do the Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg and the Barrett Paradise Friendly Library in Cresco.

Bookshelves in the Hughes Main Library at the Eastern Monroe Public Library on Thursday, February 22, 2024.

“The ideas come from all different places,” said Mary Ann Lewis, director of the Barrett Paradise Friendly Library, regarding her library’s program. “A lot of it is just brainstorming about what would be fun.”

Barrette Paradise also offers tutoring and GED preparation, hosts parent-child workshops, has a jewelry sales table, sells art from local artists and hosts satellite clinics for state Rep. Maureen Madden, a Democrat who represents northern Monroe County.

“There are other libraries that just don’t do this right in this area,” Lewis said of the office hours, which are held four times a month. “In the end, it’s kind of a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Lewis noted that since 2022, the county’s five libraries, including the Pocono Mountain Public Library in Tobyhanna, have had an agreement that allows library card holders from one library to access all books and services at the other four libraries.

According to Bernadette A. Lear, an education librarian at Pennsylvania State University who wrote a book about the early history of libraries in Pennsylvania, “libraries were never just about books.”

According to Lear, many libraries of the day had gymnasiums, swimming pools and even bowling alleys. Some libraries signed up men for the draft and lent out picture books—a kind of pre-Internet Google Images.

“I like to joke that if you can put a barcode on it, a library can probably check it out,” Lear said.

Trebor Maitin is a freelance reporter based in Stroudsburg and a student at Lafayette College, where he is managing editor of the student newspaper.