Submitted by jbraun on

From time to time, librarians get to revel in the glory that is their library system. They get to celebrate and jump for joy because people are talking about cool programming, a great book club selection, or even the pleasing aesthetics of a brand new addition. More often than not, the Burlington County Library System finds itself reading about of this type of celebration instead of taking part in it, which is one reason this story is so spectacular.

Terry Wilson moved to Medford, NJ in 1990. A patron of libraries since she learned to read, she quickly found a friend in the BCLS and its plethora of books, movies, TV shows, magazines and research materials. Terry found herself escaping into the worlds of novels and quickly realized the treasure that was housed within the library’s shelves. “I can’t see purchasing books that get read once, then take up valuable shelf space,” says Wilson and most would agree.

“I grew up before computers, when a child had plenty of free time, and I devoured books of all types, especially in the summer. But as life got busy, spare time evaporated, and reading became something of a luxury. I read very few novels until I discovered audiobooks 10 or 15 years ago. Since then I've been listening to novels around the house and in the car.”

This discovery revamped her dedication to the library. She became a frequent visitor of the Pinelands branch and pushed her paperbound friends aside as she started exclusively borrowing audio books. A few years ago, she heard business librarian Joan Divor speak at a business function in regards to online resources offered through the county library. Unaware that this type of service existed within the walls of the very place she found herself visiting on a weekly basis, she decided to explore this portion of her library.

Recently, Wilson decided to downsize her East Coast living and move closer to her family in California. As expected, she sought out her new local library and was surprised by what she found.

“I got a car with an iPod jack, so I looked into downloadable books that I could play anywhere, even while taking a walk. Unfortunately, the library system doesn't have a good selection for Mac.”

Another discovery came when she attempted to access the online resources provided by her new library system and found that they did not subscribe to the services she used frequently as a member of the BCLS! This, in conjunction with her audiobook fascination, chased her back to the BCLS. Last month, Terry became the system’s first California based  patron!

This news comes as an exciting addition as the final touches are made on the expansion of the county system’s main library. It seems this evolution of the building has not just been made up of new walls, bricks and mortar, but of the  services offered as well. Our online databases provide more access to both local patrons and those on the opposite side of the country! “The library is a vital part of any community,” says Wilson. “It makes me feel good to see people reading on the library's lawn, and children involved in activities there. It reminds me of my own weekly trip to the library when I was a kid.”

Over the years, patrons have seen more than a tangible expansion of the library system in Burlington County. Digital services are constantly expanding and new portals to helpful resources are always opening. While Terry Wilson may be a new type of customer for our system in this digital age, don’t make the mistake in assuming that she feels the online library is superior to the physical.

“Digital files are great for archiving, and I certainly enjoy my downloadable audio books, but if I'm going to read anything lengthy, I want the physical version. I like to browse the shelves and discover new things. The internet has brought positive change to our society, but we really shouldn't live our lives there.”

As we move forward into 2013, we are sure to see more stories like this of patrons utilizing libraries across the country in different ways. As you peruse those tales of true bibliophiles changing the way they access information, keep in mind that this library system in the heart of the garden state, is a pretty cool place to be.


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