Frugality has become fashionable once again and nowhere is there so much available for so little than at the Revere Public Library (RPL).
In fact, the whole place is available for free, and in the last few years’ tough economy, more and more people are discovering or re-discovering the RPL.
Whether it’s museum passes, bestselling books, popular DVD movies, a variety of children’s activities or the 29 new computers – the library in the current economic slump has attracted the attention of just about everyone from every walk of life.
“I don’t think a lot of people know everything available at the library,” said Interim Director Mark Ferrante. “People may still think a library is stuffy and full of old, dusty books, but we’re constantly updating. We keep up with all the bestsellers. Right now, we’re working on the technology section and we just started offering e-Books. Many people also don’t know about our museum passes or inter-library loan. We can save them a trip to Woburn or wherever they might go.”
However, Ferrante said that though people are discovering free services they didn’t know about or forgot about, it is job seekers who are driving the library’s surge of activity.
The rise in unemployment and those out of work has bulked up the RPL’s morning and afternoon crowds, with most coming in to work on resumes or search websites for job postings.
“I’ve definitely seen an increase in the use of computers,” said Ferrante. “Usage has gone sky-high. A large majority of those people are doing job searches. The others are doing resumes and resume building. I can’t begin to tell you how many resumes are printed here on a daily basis.”
Ferrante said that, given the use, they have concentrated on upgrading that portion of the library, including securing 15 new adult computers and 14 new children-only computers via a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Additionally, they are considering new software for the computer room that will manage the use of the computers automatically, rather than having to station a librarian in the room to supervise usage.
The upgrade has also resulted in a faster network and less wasted time for users.
“The buzz around the area is that Revere is the place to go because we have the fastest network and the fastest computers,” said Ferrante.
While the computers may draw patrons in – especially those who are seeking work and having to cut back on expenses – they also open the door to everything else that can be had for free.
Ferrante said that many users are discovering the NOBLE (North Of Boston Library Exchange) network – a consortium of 29 libraries that share books and resources.
Whether it’s a DVD movie, an old book, or even an audio book, the network can locate it and have it delivered to the RPL. They have daily runs between libraries so that the service is very timely.
“We can get just about anything they have in two days,” said Ferrante.
Another popular area of the library that has attracted crowds for quite some time is the Children’s Area.
Whether its toddlers coming for stories with mom or grandma, or older kids dropping by after-school, the RPL has gotten used to crowds of young people.
So much so that they recently decided to update the Children’s Room in a major way. Using workers from the DPW and operating on the cheap (even Ferrante did most of the painting), the old, small, dimly lit room has been replaced with a brighter, bigger space with windows.
Popular Children’s Librarian Lona Frongillo said she is preparing to open the new room in a few weeks. She said she is looking forward to placing the new furniture and having Summer Reading Programs in the new space.
“I’m very excited to break in the new room,” said Frongillo. “There will be three really big reading programs this summer. They’ve all done very well in the past and actually we’ve done better than all the other communities in the NOBLE network – as far as attracting a crowd, having programs and fund-raising.”
Frongillo said that the library also offers a great place for finding community resources.
“This is a great place for networking because if people come in and want to know how to vote or where to get tax booklets – or anything like that – we have all that information for them,” she said.
Ferrante said he is excited about the direction the library is headed and also about the growing usage that they are seeing.
“The library is certainly being used a lot,” he said.
Anyone interesting in finding out more about the RPL should stop by their location at 179 Beach St. or visit their new and improved website at www.reverepubliclibrary.org.