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Holles talks of the importance of libraries

September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. Anyone who signs up for a library card in September for the first time will receive a “Toy Story” card featuring the characters Woody and Bo Peep. The Stanly News & Press caught up with Melanie Holles, Stanly County Public Library director, to talk about the importance of having a library card, libraries and reading in general.

What is the importance of a library card?

Holles: Students of all ages still need books and information to help with the course work. Many still need access to computers and internet to use when the research materials are online. Libraries also offer books and other materials such as movies so people don’t have to spend their hard earned money. And who can afford subscriptions to magazines or newspapers anymore? All of that is free for people with a library card.

In the era of everything being online, why are libraries still so valuable in our society? What purpose do they serve?

Holles: Fake news has always been a thing on the Internet. Not everything on the internet is true or correct so it can be very difficult for people to know if they are getting good information or not.  Libraries help with that by curating collections of information that have been reviewed by experts.  And it’s not always easy to find the information you need online. There are still large numbers of people in our county who don’t have computers, internet and/or printers, and so we provide them.

What is your favorite part about being a librarian?

Holles: I love talking to people about books.

With young people distracted by so many technological devices nowadays that compete for their attention, how important is reading and engaging one’s imagination?

Holles: Studies are showing that students actually retain more information when using a print book than they do if they are reading an eBook. Devices are great for supplemental information. Reading helps people learn about the world around them, it introduces readers to new people and ideas, so when they go out into the world they can interact in socially acceptable ways.

What made you want to become a librarian?

Holles: I worked in a library in high school and I loved how the librarian helped people. She would buy books specifically because she knew a particular person would want it. She would even walk books out to the person’s car if they physically could not come into the building. She instilled in me the goal of helping people.

What are some of your favorite books?

Holles: Right now I am reading “The Littles to the Rescue” by John Peterson to a group of senior citizens at the CARE Cafe. It’s a fun little book and even though it’s a little dated, I think kids today would enjoy the adventure. I am also reading “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea for my book club this week. It’s a book about a Mexican immigrant family who is celebrating a funeral and a birthday in one weekend. Lots of themes that are in the news today.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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