By Barbara Bach
Hennepin County Libraries are still in the book business, but today they offer events that bring people together, provide vital services and sponsor a variety of activities. While you may regularly visit Webber Park and North Regional libraries to check out books, study or use a computer, your card gives you access to the entire Hennepin County Library system and all its resources and scheduled programs.
If you are bored in mid-February, you can head to the Pierre Bottineau Library for acting for adults taught by a Guthrie theater performing artist. The downtown library (Minneapolis Central) has a session on the history of baseball, and a program in its special collections history section. Here you can research the history of your home and neighborhood, and help is available to guide you through the use of print and digitized materials. Are you a CSI fan? A local forensic scientist will be at the Penn Lake branch January 30 to talk about what TV crime shows get right and wrong, with a close up look at the reality of crime scene investigations. Enjoy music? Rockford Road has Cajun singing and swinging to take you to South Louisiana with infectious high-energy dance music and movement.
If your inclinations are more computer than Cajun, there are labs and classes on everything from Internet and computer basics to eBook and eReaders. One-on-one assistance is available in most locations. Many libraries have teen tech time and senior surf time. Washburn offers health insurance counseling for specifically. Many locations have fiction and nonfiction book clubs for adults of all ages and some have crafts events, travelogues, and scrabble and chess clubs. You can even join a discussion group on the popular New Yorker magazine, or attend a research-based lecture series called the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum. Local and national authors also make appearances (watch for the popular Pen Pals author lecture series to take place this spring at the Hopkins Center for the Arts). If you are inspired to write yourself, there is a memoir writing group at Franklin Library, and other opportunities to join fellow writers at Nokomis Library.
Got kids? This winter North Regional has playmaking for children, using themes from well-known children’s books. Rockford Road and Northeast libraries offer LEGO Labs in January and February, for future engineers and architects. Plymouth has a family-friendly live comedy and juggling show that will keep them laughing and in awe this winter, and a showing of Disney Pixar’s hit animated movie Inside Out. St. Louis Park and many other locations have reading with animals. Volunteers put the little ones at ease so they can cuddle with a certified therapy animal and practice reading out loud.
The kids’ book club at Sumner Library is on again, and Washburn has a valentine-making party, materials provided. Brookdale’s geekery club and workshop are popular with teens that are anime and manga fans, or simply teenagers that like to get creative, make music and videos, animation and other projects using everything from iPads and 3D printers to synthesizers and sewing machines. Baby Storytime and Family Storytimes are available throughout the Hennepin County Library system, and you can set up childcare groups by calling your local library in advance of storytimes.
If finding a job or striking out on your own is included in your New Year’s resolution, there are resume workshops, one-on-one job search counseling, and small business start-up advice available. Many business programs take place at Central Library, including choosing the right forum of business and legal considerations. Career planning and business management for artists is offered at Ridgedale and Nokomis, and sessions on obtaining funds and pricing. Vital services beyond job search, computer instruction and building a business include tutoring adult learners, homework help for K-12, conversation circles for non-native English speakers, and often legal and tax assistance or referrals.
If you do not have a copy of the Hennepin County Winter 2015-2016, pick one up at Webber Park or North Regional, and check out hclib.org/events and mark your calendar this winter. All library events are free and open to the public. If you can’t get out to attend an event or pick up a book, volunteers will deliver books to you. Just call 612-543-8850 for books and other materials for Hennepin County residents who cannot visit a library due to illness, disability or visual impairments.