I hope there’s a library card in there! Most Washington County residents or people who own property in Washington County are entitled to a FREE library card. And OMG the access to information and materials that it provides is out of this world!

I grew up in the 1950s when my Galesville Public Library was mainly a repository of books. I’m not complaining. For that time and place, it was great to have a city library. Mrs. Huss stocked the shelves with books for kids and teens and adults, and when the library didn’t have what I needed she got materials for me through Interlibrary Loan. Our Elementary School had no library, just some carefully guarded books the teacher kept in a cabinet in the classroom.

Today’s library is still a repository for books. And the librarians of today do a fantastic job of keeping their collections current — tossing outdated information, tossing materials that are no longer popular, tossing materials that are just plain shot from lots of use.

Audio visual materials like records and audio cassettes and VCR tapes made their way into libraries in the 70s and 80s, but in today’s libraries they have been replaced by books and music on CD and DVDs.

But the real magic of today’s libraries is the electronic access. We first saw the transformation from a card catalog filled with trays of index cards to a computer catalog in the 80s, with continued improvements through the years. A search of our new Discovery Catalog brings up a whole array of resources — books, CDs, DVDs, magazine articles, library program information and more. And you can do all of these searches remotely. Magic!

At first our computers were just for materials searches, but since the 90s the Library has offered Internet workstations for public use. With a library card, a customer can enjoy one hour of computer time – to check email, to search for information using the Library’s electronic databases, to do word processing and more. Magic!

New additions in just the past couple of years are eBooks and digital magazines. Set up an account and download books and magazines to your electronic devices. No need to visit a library — unless you need help to get it all working! Magic!

No matter if you’re a kid heading back to school, a Grandma doing genealogical research, or a Dad escaping the fray with a runaway best seller – a library card is something you need. Free and easy, just bring along a photo ID with current address to a Washington County Library and you’ll walk away with a lot of MAGIC!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us