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More than books: Center Library offers patrons sense of community

Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal D. Sutterfield (center), 1st Aviation Brigade command sergeant major; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lukeman (left), 1st Avn. Bde. equal opportunity adviser; and Sgt. 1st Class Pawoo Teh, EO adviser, read to children at the Center Library last year. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal D. Sutterfield (center), 1st Aviation Brigade command sergeant major; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lukeman (left), 1st Avn. Bde. equal opportunity adviser; and Sgt. 1st Class Pawoo Teh, EO adviser, read to children at the Center Library last year. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 14, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 14, 2016) -- Communities across America continue to honor libraries during National Library Week, a resource Center Library staff members feel rests at the heart of Fort Rucker’s community.

“The whole idea behind a library is to make your life easier,” John Crawford, Center Library manager, said. “Libraries are great at developing a sense of community. We provide a place where people can come and relax. Ideally we want to provide a space where clubs can meet – where people can get together and talk.”

The library provides a host of services, including computer access, printing, faxing and a wide range of materials available for loan. But, according to Crawford, the librarians are also a valuable resource.

Jodi Wilcox, reference librarian, echoed Crawford’s sentiment.

“The library is definitely more than books,” she said. “It is a learning environment and free resource that parents and kids will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Any technician here at the library is willing to help anyone who wishes to do research or learn a new craft.”

Crawford said he feels libraries provide a home away from home and a sense of solidarity in transient communities like Fort Rucker.

“People need a place where they can go and know they will find a sense of community and camaraderie,” he said. “Our goal is to provide that space for them to feel at home.

“We have a variety of book clubs, including a teen club, where people can come together to discuss and recommend books,” he added. “We have a regular story time for children. It is partly about improving literacy and getting kids excited about books, but it is also about giving parents a chance to get together and chat amongst themselves.”

According to Cameron Hill, children’s programming coordinator and library technician, libraries also provide a place for families to bond and for youth to expand their horizons.

“Spending time as a family is associated with better communication among family members, which in turn leads kids to do better in school and have less behavioral problems,” she said. “Family time gives children an opportunity to learn and model behaviors, and everyone gets to participate.

“Today is so fast-paced and high-tech,” she added. “It seems that young people are drawn to instant gratification activities. Reading can be a way to unwind and relax, but it can also be a great form of entertainment. Reading exercises our brains, improves our concentration, increases our vocabulary, and develops our imagination. It is especially important for children because it helps them do better in school.”

The Center Library currently loans out video games for many popular consoles and Crawford hopes to also provide board games for patrons to check out in the future.

“I think it would be nice for Soldiers and their families to have access to board games,” he said. “It is comforting to get together and enjoy a nice night together.”

Center Library will host contests for patrons age 18 and older, age 13-17, and age 12 and under. Patrons who utilize the library will have a chance to win a daily prize or a grand prize April 16.

Dr. Henry Stewart, retired Troy University Dean of Library Services, will speak about how libraries “Transform Lives” today at 10:30 a.m. at the Center Library.

Group reading opportunities include the Adult Book Club every third Tuesday from 5-6 p.m. and the Teen Book Club every third Saturday from 4-5 p.m.

Center Library events for the month of April include a Tesla car display April 20 at 2:30 p.m. followed by an Earth Day Awareness presentation by Big Bend Wildlife of Enterprise at 3:30 p.m. and an Earth Day craft activity April 23 from 1-2:30 p.m.

For more information about the Center Library, call 255-3885 or visit their website.

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