Libraries have more to offer than books

FRESNO, Calif.

In fact, the library is becoming a community cornerstone.

For Clovis resident Robert Watts the neighborhood library was a safe haven but also a place of awakening.

Watts says, "I got to see other kids do show and tell, read from the book. The librarian would give you a chance to practice reading in front of the group, that kind of thing. Painful, but I realized I couldn't do those things."

Today Watts has a doctorate in psychology and is a successful author and motivational speaker. He credits the local librarian with caring about his illiteracy and encouraging him to read.

Fresno's April Haupt found a much-needed social outlet at the library.

Haupt says, "initially I was looking for books on how to raise my child." Once a week she and her son Eddy attended a playgroup where she could find some much needed adult conversation.

Says Haupt, "as a stay at home mom you start to feel very isolated, especially when you go from being a working person to a stay at home mom. You no longer have the same interactions as you may have had before and it can get very lonely."

Those on the hunt for a job can sign up for computer time at any branch. Fresno County Librarian Laurel Pryziasny says every branch has computers, CDs, DVDs, even video games.

Pryziasny explains, "we also offer literacy classes, and one on one tutoring, we offer job skill training, we'll teach you."

For those who are already technically savvy you can ask your reference questions through email or you can even text your question in. It won't be long before they have a 24/7 live chat service.

While many have criticized the library for allowing the homeless to hang out, Pryziasny says everyone is welcome. It's a community cornerstone, she says, for every age and every social group, and best of all, everything is free.

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