FLORIDA WHIMSIES...: Broward County Public Library…some observations

Some observations about a major public library in southern Florida, BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY.

The Broward County Library is a public library system in Broward County, Florida. The library system contains 38 branches and circulates over 10.5 million items annually. The system includes the Main Library in Fort Lauderdale, five regional libraries, and more than three dozen branches.

Book Clubs
My interest revolves around book clubs and I wanted more information at the branch near me. The librarian at the secondary reception desk looked at me quizzically when I asked if they had book clubs at the branch. They seem to have dozens throughout the system and each branch has a number of meeting rooms available at no charge to the clubs they serve.

The librarian suggested that I attend a book club meeting scheduled in a couple of weeks. He touted that this meeting would be particularly interesting as the author of the book club’s book for that meeting would be attending. Carl Hiassen wrote many books along with writing a column for the Miami Herald. He has written more than 20 books classified as humorous crime fiction. Read my review at my website under BOOKz coming soon.

Book clubs, a going concern at BROWARD
Some notable observations when one digs into the topic of Book Clubs at Broward. First, I noted that the Director of the Public Library, Kelvin Watson, is very extensively and directly involved with the book clubs in his system. He moderates 4 book club meetings a month from what I learned.

Book Clubs highly promoted by the library
The Broward library may not emphasize book clubs as the most important part of its system, but it does promote the clubs quite energetically as evidenced by the library’s website. The book clubs are ranked second under the library highlights.

Books Club meeting are published on the library’s Events Calendar
Interestingly, each book club gets its meetings published on the library’s Events Calendar, highlighted in RED. When any club meeting is clicked, a pop-up gives details about that Club’s meeting, location, time, date, book.

 

Comprehensive information about Book Club meetings
Each pop-up of the individual book club meetings results in more detail if wanted, with a summary of the book and other bits of information depending on the book club’s objectives and intentions.

Other observations about BCPL
I will be attending two book club meetings, one with the author attending, the other about Michelle Obama’s bestseller, ‘Becoming.’ Both meetings will likely be very interesting and I look forward to them. [More on the meetings after I attend.]

I have been to one branch only and it was in a typical Florida building for a business or municipal institution, two stories, coral colours of peach and yellow and surrounded by grass. One would never know it is a library as it lacks any outside building title. Once inside the clean, air-conditioned and spacious interior, one is welcomed by an attendant at the reception desk, tended by 3 staff at a midweek on this mid-afternoon visit.

The reception desk has two staffed positions, the main one and a second which seems to be primarily for technological assistance. The branch has a 12-seats computer area which at the time of my visit was fully occupied.

Computer stations
The 12 stations were all filled by young adults using the stations for gaming, photo viewing and resume/job-related activities. There was a support staff person working the area full time while I was there.

Obtaining a library card: Regular vs E-card
A “normal” library card allows one to borrow hardcovers but this card is available to permanent residents of Florida only. However, the library offers another kind of card, an “e-card,” available to Florida visitors and snowbirds who wish to make use of the library resources while here. I have one of these and it opens the door to a huge number and a tremendous variety of library items, books, movies, magazines, music and more.

Books on “Hold”
An advantageous aspect of having a Broward County PL library card is that because it has such an extensive selection and availability, “Hold” times seem non existent unless you are borrowing an extremely popular book such as Michelle Obama’s bestseller, ‘Hold’ wait time, 15 weeks, John Grisham, ‘The Reckoning,’ 9 weeks same as David Baldacci’s ‘Long Road to Mercy.’ The ‘hold’ times at the BCPL are significantly shorter than those at the Pickering Public Library but that isn’t surprising when one considers the comparative size of the two libraries.

Book Club meetings
I will be attending two book club meetings at the BCPL and I am really looking forward to each. I am certain these meetings will be real ’eye-openers’ given the size of the library and the financial resources it has available to it. However, taken in perspective, I am still a very happy camper in the PPL system. It serves us well and continues to open doors to new opportunities of broader borrowing. My only minor criticism of the PPL is that it seems to give greater emphasis on younger patrons. Seniors, though not abandoned, seem to be second class…but who knows…perhaps a bit more griping will result in more attention and even more service and emphasis. Still the PPL’s a great little library, in my books…lol !

 

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