There was a time when many believed that libraries had become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise of online alternatives and a general shortening of America’s attention span. That dire prediction has not been borne out. Instead, libraries adapted and now provide a wider range of services than ever before. Libraries have also become community centers, with classes and activities for young, old, and in between. They are learning centers for those struggling with a new language. Book groups give folks a way to socialize. Seeds are available for gardeners, along with plenty of illustrated volumes in which to find inspiration for one’s vegetables, flowers, and trees. Coat exchange projects each winter help keep those in need warm. And some of the enticements are downright revolutionary — at the East Hampton Library, visitors can even enjoy an inexpensive cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, just $1 if they supply their own mugs.
The Suffolk Cooperative Library System reached a milestone recently that is worth noting — more than three million digital book “checkouts” in 2022. That figure puts it on par with San Francisco and ahead of Chicago, Denver, or most of the libraries in the State of Oregon put together. Here in Suffolk, the top book of 2022 was Laura Dave’s “The Last Thing He Told Me,” a hybrid romance-mystery that effectively blended two top genres. Access to the vast array of books, magazines, and newspapers in the countywide system is via livebrary.com and the Libby app. Librarians can help would-be readers having trouble figuring it all out, but once that is done the choices are just about endless.