Free Music Spaces and Books

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Almonte library spaces
Author David McCullough reads to children at the Southern Oaks library
NW Library
Summer Reading

Free Music, Spaces and Books…OH MY!
-“A great library contains the diary of the human race.” 
- George Mercer Dawson

By Asa Leveaux

Where in Oklahoma City can you meet with a prospective client in a quiet and professional atmosphere, add the latest melodic jazz single to your trusted music device, research county and national records to see if you are in fact a true-blood Yankee or southerner and introduce your children to the world of hairy caterpillars and delicious eggs and ham that are found to be green, all for free?

You can find all this and more at the city’s public libraries, of course.

In 1809, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Wyche that, “I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at a small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the country under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.”

Oklahoma’s Metropolitan Library System has answered Mr. Jefferson’s expectations in a way that satisfies the minds of those alive today.

The inception of the Metropolitan Library System is enthralled with history dating back to 1889 when the Philomathea Club headed by Mrs. Selwyn Douglas chartered a club library due to their love of learning. On August 16, 1900, the cornerstone was laid for what would be one of downtown Oklahoma City’s prolific jewels. Thanks to Andrew Carnegie and his philanthropy, the library was able to expand with contributions over $50,000 over the span of 50 years.

Kim Terry, director of Marketing for Metropolitan Library Systems and publisher of the Metropolitan Library System magazine info, was able to bridge the historic objective of the 19 libraries to present day.

“In the early days of the Metropolitan Library System, the focus was on providing information to our customers. Today, while providing information is still one of our main objectives, we also focus on helping visitors explore special interests and offer civic, cultural and community enrichment opportunities,” she said. “We want the library to be a welcoming space where people can meet and interact with others as well as provide virtual space to customers so they can use our wide assortment of digital resources.”

Terry and the staff at the city’s libraries have positioned themselves to provide service and resources to the red dirt masses. This year alone the Metropolitan Library System served millions of visitors and those 3 million supporters checked out more than 6.5 million books and other material from the 19 libraries.

There are over 16,000 titles available just for eBooks and over 250 free titles through the libraries’ magazine service called Zinio. The library system has approximately 150 databases that seem to be one of the most underutilized features of the library system, according to Terry.
A few of the topics that the databases cover include car repair, learning foreign languages, streaming educational videos, biblical studies, test prep, genealogy, historical newspapers, same day local, national and global newspapers and business databases such as Value Line and Morningstar.

Two of the 19 gems include the Downtown Library and the newly built Northwest Library near NW 122nd and MacArthur. At the Northwest Library, I was immediately began to remember my fascination with books that began when I was a child when I was met by the whimsical seven foot tall Saurophaganax dinosaur (official state fossil of Oklahoma) fitted with Chuck All-Stars, designed by Solomon Bassoff of Faducci Studio, that faces the street.

The architecture allows for a more open design and pays homage to the history of Oklahoma through study areas that are housed in glass that resemble oil-derricks. A few of the services that were offered included being able to make Christmas ornaments from cinnamon dough to learning how to download free music every week to arranging a meeting with retired executives on planning to build a business to learning how to play chess.

Oklahoma’s Metropolitan Library system offers a cornucopia of free services for the state’s residents that most are paying handsomely for every day. During this season of reflection and making resolutions, I would offer your communities’ library as a vehicle to make your dreams turn into goals and your goals become realities.

Whether you desire to start a business, research the origin of your grandparents or choose to meditate more often with transcendent music, put your debit card away and set your eyes on the 19 jewels of the Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System.

For more information on your communities’ library please visit www.metrolibrary.org.

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