An Ode To The Chattanooga Library

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An Ode To The Chattanooga Library

I’ve seen a few news articles recently about how members of the city council feel like the library is not doing all it can do in our city. Frankly, that news stopped me dead in my tracks.

Do they not know the same Chattanooga Public Library that I do?

(If I had to guess, I’d think they are probably angry about the very diverse selection of books our libraries carry and want to ban some of them…but I could be wrong.)

Maybe you don’t know all the amazing things our libraries do in this city, either. So I’m just going to touch on a handful of them with the hope you’ll check out a branch and see what they have for you.

During the Pandemic

First, let’s talk about how the library kept me hopeful during the pandemic. Yes, the buildings were closed except to employees for quite some time. But after just a few weeks of being totally closed, we were able to request books as usual and use the library “concierge service” to have them delivered directly to the trunk of my minivan, keeping us all safe.

I usually reserve the books I want to read, but what about kids’ books? I almost always just browse the shelves for picture books. So what did they come up with? A form where I could tell them I have a five-year-old girl who loves cats and funny books, and they would handpick a bag full of books for her! The librarians are certainly up-to-date on new books and picked way better books than I ever could have. We were also able to pick up little craft kits for different ages and sometimes some seed packets as well!

The library STILL has the concierge service if you are sick, have a car full of sleeping babies, or just feel too lazy to park and walk in. You can call from your car and they will deliver your books right to you! (Although expect to wait longer now with patrons inside the library as well.)

The library also kept up with storytimes via their YouTube channel and provided online classes and sessions for a variety of topics. Crafting with Craft Bevvies was one I enjoyed online — they’ve moved back in person now!

The Children’s Section

I will admit I spent most of our Chattanooga years going to the Northgate or Eastgate branches of the library even though I live just north of downtown now. I didn’t want to pay to park at the library because it feels wrong. Since 2020, though, I’ve become extremely devoted to the amazing downtown main library branch, and will cough up the $1 to park at a meter to spend time in it.

Pictured is the younger children’s section. This exciting climbing equipment is just the beginning of the fun in there. There is also a playhouse, computers with age-appropriate content and headphones, coloring tables, Legos, magnet tiles, and a scavenger hunt with prizes that they change every week.

Out on the rest of the second floor, which houses YA and middle grade books, there are other scavenger hunts, games, video game consoles, weaving, art and more. Plus my kids’ favorite: a huge section of just graphic novels, split into middle grade and YA.

The Noise Closet is fairly new. Your kids 10-17 (or still enrolled in high school) can check out an instrument to take home and try out! My 11-year-old son wanted to explore the electric guitar, and we were pleased as punch to be able to check one out from the library, along with an amp. They also have drum sets, keyboards, and bass guitars.

The 4th Floor

On the fourth floor of the main library, you’ll find a VAST number of amazing resources you can use for the cost of goods. These include:

  • 3D printers
  • large format printers
  • screen printing
  • button maker
  • zine making
  • sewing machine and other tools for fiber arts
  • laminator
  • 4K monitor
  • recording studio available to reserve

Online Resources

One way I use the heck out of my library card is through the apps Libby and Hoopla. These are free through the library, and with my card I can access tons of audiobooks, ebooks, music, and e-comics. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for an audiobook even though I listen to them all the time. With Libby/Overdrive, you may have to put a hold on something you want as the library has a limited number of digital copies. With Hoopla, everything is always available but you are limited to five check-outs a month.

My Personal Favorite Thing

I’m a bit of a voracious reader, in case you hadn’t guessed. If I come across a book I really want to read that our library doesn’t own, all I have to do is fill out the form on their website and 90% of the time, they can acquire it for me. I can even tell them if I’d rather have it on Kindle or audiobook than a hard copy!

This is a game-changer. As long as I can wait a couple weeks (and truly…I have a million other books to read in the meantime), I can get pretty much anything I want to read without having to pay for it.

The Bottom Line

I seriously have only touched on a few things out of the ZILLION that seem to be happening at the library every day. They have podcasts! Summer reading programs and book choices! Passport services! Vaccine clinics! Notary! A tool library!

Anyone who thinks our library system is slacking…well, I’d like for them to explain to me how that is possible. Because in my eyes, the Chattanooga Library is simply amazing.

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