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Ocean City Free Public Library

August 16, 2009

We just returned from a beach vacation at Ocean City, NJ. After getting ready for classes and then boot camp itself, along with my husband’s hectic schedule, this was a welcome retreat for our whole family. Nothing goes better with time at the beach than a good book or two (or four!). Being a bit of a land-lubber, I got some good reading time in and managed to finish four books and get a good start on a fifth.

I also got a chance to visit the Ocean City Free Public Library while I was there. Although libraries are not your typical tourist attraction, I enjoy visiting libraries when I travel. I have found through my travels, and also moving four times in 5 years, that you can tell alot about a community by its library. I was very impressed by the offerings at Ocean City. First off, their hours are amazing, and made it easy for me to fit in a visit. They are open seven days a week, and are open until 9pm on weekdays. They have a tremendous amount of programming for children, teens and adults alike. Many of their programs are offered at the Library Annex, which I did not get a chance to visit – that’s on my list to do next year. Their programs range from basic computer skills to story time to book clubs to Chinese cooking classes. During the summer months, it seemed like there was something going on almost every day of the week.

The space the library occupies is pretty impressive. It is part of a larger community center complex that includes a fitness/aquatic center, a museum, and an arts center. It is currently undergoing a construction project that entails renovating the existing facility and adding about 10,000 square feet. Even with construction going on, I found the facility to be bright and welcoming. The circulation desk is prominently at the front of the library, with the children’s area behind that. The children’s collection was very impressive, offering many types of media. There were also several computer workstations in the children’s area. They had a cute arrangement of bean bags and child-sized furniture where children could read.

The second floor offers the adult section – I was again impressed at their collection, particularly their periodical offerings. I think that just about anyone could find a magazine that matched their interest in the magazine section. The fiction collection was sizable, and they had a great array of reader advisory services to assist browsers. The library has brochures that feature fiction offerings on all sorts of topics ranging from gardening to romance to vampires. They also have shelf tags by that feature similar authors – if you like Nora Roberts, you’ll like……. was right above the offerings from Nora Roberts. Going down the rows, there were at least 2 dozen such tags.

The staff at the circulation desk was very friendly and helpful. Because Ocean City is a resort town, their population swells every summer. Anyone who is not a resident can become a member of the library for $15 per year and use any of the library services. The library does offer wi-fi service, so anyone with a laptop can get wireless access there. I ended up purchasing a nice book bag with their logo on it for only $1.50! (Now at least I had somewhere to store all the brochures and information I picked up.)

All in all, the Ocean City Free Public Library is a great place, and seems to have widespread community support. I was really glad I had the opportunity to visit this year, and I hope I can get back there to see the results of the construction project.

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