Most Viewed Stories
Read all about it: Check out the library – it's still relevant
Miles Smith goes to grade papers, Boeranda Mullins to read online and in print and Steve Clark to learn more about the late actor Jimmy Stewart.
Yuba City resident Clark, 66, was reading a Stewart biography he bought at a bookstore and taken with him to the main branch of the Sutter County Library on Forbes Avenue.
"Being in here reminds me when I was in college," said Clark. "I read here because it's the environment I want."
Libraries look to new roles in the digital age — the number of electronic ebooks circulating in branches of the Sutter County library more than doubled from the previous year — but still appeal to many for old-school reasons that include a quiet place to take in the wonders of print.
Mullins, 13, reads books because they're better than going on online.
"For me, the screen is too bright sometimes," she said of accessing information online.
And, ironically, too slow.
"You have to wait for it to load up," Mullins noted.
Smith, who teaches English at Lindhurst High School, was at the library Thursday with copies of "The Grapes of Wrath" and "A Catcher in the Rye." The books are part of the curriculum for his English class — and his visits to the library can include grading student papers.
About 2,000 people a day come to the main branch library — book lovers, computer users and students in the literary classes among them.
"For a lot of people, this is where they look at their computer," said James Ochsner, director of library services for Sutter County.
That includes patrons who bring in laptops to use because of the library WiFi — wireless fidelity that provides Internet access — along with people accessing the 16 public computers.
At the Yuba County Library on Second Street in Marysville, patrons are sometimes in the parking lot on days when the building is closed to access the library WiFi and work on their laptops.
Pat Camarena, vice-chairwoman of the Yuba County Library Advisory Commission, said another part of the new digital world — ebooks that can be read on such devices as Kindles — bring benefits.
"The books don't wear out," she noted. "They don't take up space."
Sutter County library director Ochsner said more space came four years ago when about 40,000 books — in poor condition or not being checked out — were weeded from the collection. Yuba College, which is in the middle of a two-year renovation of its library, took out half of its 60,000 books in 2011. Ebooks replaced them, said Elena Heilman, Yuba College librarian.
Rachel Henry, historian for the Friends of the Sutter County Library, said the many new communication technologies made some nervous that books would be outdated and library use would decline.
"The opposite has happened," she said. "It's busier than ever."
Sutter County has kept up with the technology, and by doing so boosted interest in its libraries, Henry said.
An interest in libraries — and books — is something Yuba City resident Janet Vyka has long enjoyed. She began coming to the main branch in 1975, three years after it opened, and reads — in print, not online — favorite authors, including James Patterson.
"I love the library," said Vyka, 76. "I really do."
Sue Cejner-Moyers, a member of the advisory commission for Yuba County, said limited funds available to library officials hasn't prevented them from adapting.
"We are keeping up with digital age," she said.
Ochsner spoke about the art of knowing when and how to alter services.
"You hear people complaining sometimes about different libraries that have moved too fast," he noted. "You have to be very careful that you don't leave people behind."
"You have to know your community," he said.
Every era has its inventions, Ochsner added.
"When this building opened, they had cutting edge technology — typewriters," he said.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.