Here are true stories from our customers, partners and staff about how libraries have enhanced their lives.
I discovered the library at age four. I could read by then at kindergarten level and I found so many books to amuse me. I could take them home, I could read them at the library ... there was really no end to options for me. Now, the library is my favorite place and I am constantly buying new books. I have so many they would probably fit on about ten bookshelves.
Monroe Library customer
In 2006, I decided to attend my first-ever rock music festival. I had been to a concert or two before, over the years, but never a multi-act all-day event. That year the Sasquatch Festival had Wolfmother, HIM, Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails. Now, I was over 40, and didn't have a clue about this thing called a mosh pit. I just wanted to have a good clear view of the stage. So I went very early, so I could get a nice spot up front. There were hours to go before the music started. So I took a library book with me to pass the time- "Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown.
I read for awhile, and more and more people were coming. I was at the very front, very center, right by the stage. It was a standing area with a metal rail fence separating the crowd from the stage. The first couple acts, everything was okay.
But then one of the bigger acts started up. Suddenly, the crowd surged forward, and there were all these young men slamming themselves around behind the front rows of people. More and more people poured in.
Then a really popular song started. The crowd screamed and surged forward, shoving everyone before them up tight againt the metal fence. With a little five-foot-three, forty-odd year old woman right at the forefront of it.
The top rail of the metal fence came just to the bottom of my throat.
Suddenly I couldn't breathe. The crowd had us shoved in so tight the metal was pressing my airway closed, an iron rod across my neck.
I had my library book in my hand. I had picked it up when things started getting a little crazy, afraid it would be trampled or lost. Now, strangling between an immovable object and an irresistible force, some instinct told me what to do.
I started pulling the book up and around in front of me, a couple inches at a time, as the pressure shifted slightly with the movements of the crowd behind. The smooth plastic dust wrapper and strong rigid hardcover made it easy to force upward, a shove at a time. Soon I had it up to my throat.
One last shove, and "Da Vince Code" snapped into place between my throat and the fence, shielding my airway like a piece of armor. I sucked in a glorious lungful of air!
All around, people were getting hurt, fainting, having to be pulled out by security and handed off to medics. But thanks to my library book, I made it through the whole evening.
I ended up with two cracked ribs, a puffy bruised neck, and a great story to tell. Thank you Sno-Isle Libraries! And, by the way, library director - the extra expense of hardcover editions? It's totally worth it!!
Keela - Arlington Library customer
Young customer came in and said he registered for a card. I asked for his ID and asked if he had something with his current address on it. He said, "Yes, I actually just got my first bill - something I think most people wouldn't think was great, but I thought 'Yes! Now I can get my library card!'"
Jenny - Lynnwood Library staff
So many books, so much information, so many programs, so many friendly faces. My library expands my living room, it is my salon where I can entertain and then leave the patrons to themselves. My Grandmother Melva was a school librarian and I was her library aide and so enjoyed sharing with others the favorite books of the time and reading to little ones just beginning to enjoy books. Smiles and thanks so for being my libraries.
Kat - Langley Library customer
A woman came to the Information Desk to ask about printing a document from the public computers without a library card. I explained that it was not necessary for her to be a registered borrower to use our computers, but that this was a perfect opportunity for her to get a library card. I asked whether she’d like to do that and she smiled and said “Oh, I never come to libraries.” I said “Let me tell you what you can get without ever coming to the library.” I briefly explained about the variety of electronic media resources available from Sno-Isle Libraries and, in those few seconds, she decided she needed a library card after all.
She came in thinking the library had nothing to offer outside the physical confines of a building. She left with her free ticket to electronic media heaven, accessible from anywhere with a connection to the Internet.
I love that moment when someone realizes the library has more than they expected – it’s magical, every time.
Marie - Oak Harbor Library staff
A quick note to acknowledge the difference Pam (Winstanley) has made in my life. I used to read what I found under my bed, which worked and was convenient because I was married to a book hound and she had lots of interesting choices hiding under there. But, divorce happens and now there are just dust bunnies and spiders under there and my reading has grown Increasingly Impoverished and Lonely. Enter Pam, who suggested I visit the Freeland Library. Not only that: she has made some great book suggestions. So, apparently I don't have to be married to find great things to read!
Taylor Clark - Freeland Library customer
Barbara, a Langley customer, just shared with me how much she appreciated our auto-renewal service. She checked out a DVD, and said it took her some time to find a friend with a DVD player so she could watch it, but was absolutely thrilled that it auto-renewed and allowed her to enjoy the material. She said she loved the "small town service" and that it respected her time and schedule to let her enjoy it.
Kaley - Langley Library staff
On April 24, I was working the Lynnwood Library Reference Desk and a four adults approached me and asked if we had old telephone directories. I replied "No" and asked what they were looking for. The woman said they were looking for an old address for someone (her mother) from the early 1980s. I said we had city directories and we started looking in a couple that matched their time frame.
In the course of looking, I gathered that the woman's mother and her boyfriend had lived in Lynnwood for one year in the early 1980s. This party of four in front of me - woman, her current male partner, her son and son's boyfriend were from San Francisco. They had flown up here to find the old residence. She thought it would be easy to find, but with so many changes - when they arrived in Lynnwood they quickly became lost.
I thought of Ancestry.com and we started searching. The mother/grandmother had a very common name, but they had her birthday. Plus they knew the birthday of the man the mother/grandmother had lived with at the time. As we searched, the library became busy and I suggested they try looking themselves and gave them a temporary pass. The woman kept saying "you are being so kind - thank you so much".
I set them up on a workstation and they had me come back once and asked for assistance. About 10 minutes later, the woman announced - we found it! As they left she walked up to me and gave me a big hug and whispered "You have no idea what this means to me." She had tears in her eyes as she said it.
Steve - Lynnwood Library staff
Today a customer with shaky hands came in to request a book saying, "You're better at computers than I am, would you mind looking something up for me?" I said I would be happy to. We found the book and she said "Oh, and there it is! You know, I have always had the best luck coming to this desk. You guys don't know how wonderful you are. I moved here from a town of 100,000 people and there was only one library! Here it feels like there is practically one on every corner. Well, not really, but every one of them has always had really great people. I've always seemed to find what I needed. So thank you!"
Jenny - Lynnwood Library staff
I would like to commend an employee of the Coupeville branch, Rabbitt Betzner.
Rabbitt Betzner, left, lends a helping hand
Lynda Mclure - Coupeville Library customer
It's December 31st. The last day of 2014. I turned 30 this year. And I accomplished my "30" goal-- visit 30 libraries in my 30th year.
Jocelyn Richardson in front of her home library in Monroe
So, 21 Sno-isle libraries. Plus 9 more, but not all on my motorcycle (Duvall, Columbia City, Woodinville, North Bend, two in Everett, WA. Then Tigard and Portland in OR and Vancouver Central branch in B.C.). And I have pictures at each library.
There is so much more to say about my 30 library experience-- spills, thrills, books I read, pilgrimage motorcycle trip to one of our favorite kid's book locations, and foster children joining our family (and getting their first library cards). But for now, I'm just proud to say that I finished :)
I wonder what new libraries I will visit in 2015...
Jocelyn - Monroe Library customer
Edmonds Library hosted a Lego Slam on Saturday, November 15th. For an hour, kids created and built contentedly. They eagerly looked at the Lego books on display. After the program, a mom caught my arm and said, "thank you so much for having this program. It brought my two boys back into the library. It brought them back to reading. They even checked out some books!"
Maureen - Edmonds Library staff
This week at the Granite Falls Library, I was assisting a young man at the circulation desk. An older man got in line behind him with a set of World War II videos that he wanted to purchase from the friends book sale. The younger man commented on the World War II videos, and he asked the older gentleman if he had served in the war. The older man said he didn't serve in World War II, but he could remember it. He said that he had actually served in the Korean War. The two men from very different generations introduced themselves to each other and ended up having a very lively conversation about wars and war collectibles. Onlookers might have guessed that they were old friends and not imagined the two had just met. They shook hands as they parted ways, and the younger man thanked the veteran for his service. It was wonderful to see the intergenerational connection being made here at the library.
Lisa - Granite Falls Library staff
I am a patron of three different public libraries (in different states and countries), one of which was named the top library in N America last year. I just wanted to let you know that the Sno-Isle ebook acquisition is truly outstanding, your online browse and reserve book system is exceptional, and the co-operative Sno-Isle library system turns what could be a small (but heroic) library into a significant force in the more rural regions of Washington. Well, well done! These are high kudos from someone who has found libraries a source of great value and personal joy since my first visit to one some 55 years ago. I have since been associated with several universities with internationally revered collections, but I have always found that the local public library system was as important for allowing me to explore popular culture through fiction in a way that research libraries simply cannot and will not. I just wanted to say, you guys are the greatest! Thanks so much!
Lisa - Oak Harbor Library customer
I used to just hate it when a customer would come into the bookstore where I worked and describe a book they could not live without. They did not remember the title or the author's name. Sometimes all they could say was , "It had a yellow cover...".
Well, August 20, 2014,it was my turn and the Librarian at the Freeland Branch of Sno-Isle actually found both of the books (one is in the collection)!
Well done! I truly appreciate her help.
Joanna - Freeland Library customer
I really appreciate how Sno Isle Library stocks graphic novels as soon as they are available. I took a pay cut and can no longer afford to buy comics. I love graphic novels so it means alot that I am still able to read my favorite characters by getting the books from the library. Keep up the good work!
I wish to thank Shannon Dye, Children's Librarian, at the Monroe Sno-Isle branch for allowing me to bring 10-20 students four times this summer to the special events. None of the students in our elementary care/summer day camp had their own library card until now. My library card is among my most valuable possessions. When I enter the library, it feels like Christmas any day of the year.
I love Sno-Isle Libraries because I am able to bring guests, and kids who love the atmosphere. I was amazed at how "awed" they were to see the bikes I had described as part of our summer quiet reading time "contest".
I feel it is important for every person to know libraries are free. They can go ask a question, find information and even get homework help!
The Marysville Library allowed me to use a quiet room to tutor a few high school students weekly last year, then the library placed me on a tutor's referral list. This is how I wish to spend time when fully retired. THANK YOU for everything you have thought of and prepared for us.
Jan - Monroe Library customer
Two months ago I canceled my subscription to a mail order DVD rental service because it took up to six months to get a newly published DVD.
Then I looked at one of the rental machines in town and was reluctant to use it because of the one-day return policy.
One night my wife says, "What about the library?" Amazingly she found all the newly released DVDs I wanted. They were available 4 months before I could get them from the mail order service and I have up to a week to return them. Wow! The Sno-Isle Libraries continues to amaze me.
A customer told me that she remembers going to the Monroe Library as a child at the former library building. She said she remembers how small it was, and that when this one was built it was a real boon to the community. She continues to marvel that such a small town has such a fabulous library.
Lisa - Granite Falls Library staff
I was staying right outside of Stanwood for a work conference. I had been on the road the whole week before and had no time to even look at my assignments that were due that Monday. After my work conference was dismissed for the day, I jumped online to see what homework I had due that night, I assumed it was the typical 5-6 page paper. But not this time! I needed to make a collage out of magazine, Internet, and newspaper photos, as well as words and images from news stories and websites that focus on a single cultural group. GREAT! Being at the Masters level, I really did not expect this! How am I going to get this done when I had no magazines, no printer, no scanner, no scissors, and no glue. I quickly got online to see if Stanwood had a library. I was in luck! By the time I arrived it was well past 5pm. The staff were INCREDIBLE! I told them my situation and they jumped right in providing me everything I needed to succeed. I happily paid the fees to copy and print. Before I knew it, my collage on Poverty was complete. I dropped what few bucks I had left in the Friends of Library book sale box. But really it was not enough. I will never forget how helpful the staff was and how user friendly the entire library was. I wished I lived closer because I would be so proud if that were my hometown library!
Rae - Stanwood Library customer
I went to the Toyota Dealership with a friend. While waiting in the quiet room a woman came in. She was very distraught. After she completed her phone call she overheard me coaching my friend on using the regular catalog, eCatalog and talking about downloading eContent. She made a comment that she was having trouble with her Nook. I told her I would be willing to try to help her. She logged on to the computer that was available and she showed me where she was having a problem. While I couldn’t solve the immediate problem I showed her many things on how to get her problem solved, including the Overdrive support page. She was amazed at the number of available resources available to her. She couldn’t wait to go in to Arlington to try their book a librarian and eCoaching sessions. She came in mad about the car but left feeling good about the library.
Rabbitt - Coupeville Library staff
A new customer with a new library card expressed delight at being able to check out movies for free.
A customer commented on the spring spectacular school age program line up. She appreciated the wonderful programs.
Lisa - Granite Falls Library staff
They walk in with stooped shoulders, downcast eyes and defeated grimaces with seemingly the weight of the world on their backs. Job losses, divorces, loss of a beloved mate, homelessness... it's all the same. World weary souls in search of information or a simple diversion of activity. What they get in addition to information sought is a smile and affirmations from staff of being "seen" in a world where they are mostly treated as invisible. I think of the fictitious bar, "Cheers, where everybody knows your name". The library can be that safe place of affirmation and camaraderie. A place to get an "atta boy or atta girl" pat on the back. We see you, we value you and we welcome you. More than just an information palace, the library is a place of safe harbor and a life line to bone weary souls in search of a friendly face and human comfort.
Susan - Stanwood Library staff
A few years ago I spent a lot of time in the Snohomish Library studying for a state licensing exam. The quiet and inspirational atmosphere proved conducive for learning, because I passed the exam!
Jon - Snohomish Library customer
I grew up in Everett and became a patron of the Sno-Isle Library System when I was about six years young. My library card was my first “real” plastic card and I worshiped it.
From the time I was able to sound out words on the page, I’d always loved the satisfaction I gained from reading, and I spent every summer as a child absolutely devouring books, forever longing to color in one more box on my Summer Reading Adventure tracking sheet. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, so to speak, and I checked out gobs of books at a time - more books than I ever would’ve been able to read before they were due. My mother, after helping me move my loot from the library to the car and then from the car into the house on numerous occasions, instigated a rule in which I could “only check out as many books as I could carry.” On my next trip to the library, I brought with me a Rubbermaid tub, filling it to the brim while glaring at my mother in mock defiance. She just laughed.
I’m still an avid reader and Sno-Isle patron. As an adult, I’ve had the opportunity to familiarize myself with two other library systems, and Sno-Isle is by far my favorite. Sno-isle has the most comprehensive selection of books and movies I’ve encountered; I almost always find what I’m looking for, no matter how obscure or specific it might be. At least once a month, I search for an item, my expectations low, and upon finding it, think to myself, “They actually have that? Awesome!”
Still, books aren’t the only thing in Sno-Isle’s arsenal of treasures. A friend came over to my house not long ago and saw a few hot new DVD releases sitting on my mantle. “You got these from the library? For free?” he asked upon seeing the Sno-Isle barcode on their cases. “Didn’t these movies just come out on DVD?” I answered yes to all. “I can’t believe they have these movies at the library!” he exclaimed in surprise as he flipped through the stack.
Sno-Isle has teamed up with Freegal, which is a legal music download service with artists like Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, John Mayer, The Fray, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus, Mumford & Sons, John Legend, Train, Sara Bareilles, and One Direction. As a Sno-Isle Library cardholder, I get three free downloads per week. Three free songs a week, people!
It doesn’t stop there. Sno-Isle has more free resources at its patrons’ disposal than I ever realized. Did you know that you can learn languages through Mango, get help with resumes and homework, receive full access to Consumer Reports’ online magazine, and utilize search engines of published articles and papers? There are resources upon resources! I recently discovered Khan Academy, a free, hip website offering quality education on a smorgasbord of topics to those who want to learn for the sake of learning. Sign me up!
It’s true that you never really know what you have until you lose it. I once had a dismal experience with another library system, after which I sorely realized how much I missed Sno-Isle. I had three overdue books in my possession, which I eventually returned, but the library kept sending me notices that I owed money. I called them to clear up the mistake. “The books aren’t lost,” I explained in frustration. “I returned them.” “I see that,” replied the librarian, “but you still owe the late fees.”
Late fees? What are those? As a born-and-bred Sno-Isle patron, I had no idea that late fees were the norm on overdue library materials. I finally realized how lucky I’d been all those years! I’ve definitely had overdue and even lost items (yikes!) on my record before, but I’ve always returned them, at which point Sno-Isle kindly wipes my slate clean.
Sno-Isle is also generous with its check-out guidelines. Anyone can check out any item for three weeks and can renew an item up to five times, provided no one else has requested it. I’ve seen other library systems be stingier with their popular items (such as newly released DVDs), reducing the check-out period to a mere seven days. Despite Sno-Isle’s lenient check out time frame, I always receive my requested materials in a timely manner. Even if I’m number 350 on the holds list for a popular new movie, I get the DVD reasonably quickly. Sno-Isle anticipates the needs of its patrons when it comes to highly sought after items, and it always seems to have a large number in circulation.
I adore Sno-Isle Libraries - all that knowledge and entertainment at my fingertips, and for free! What could be better?!
Michelle - Mill Creek Library customer
“The library is our family's launch pad for adventure. It's our haven. It's our treasure trove. We could never be able to have such a collection for ourselves. What a blessing the library is for our community!” – Ruthann Larson, Lake Stevens, Wash.
(Permission to use her name was sent by email 8/22/13, original quote from a Facebook comment)
Ruthann - Lake Stevens Library customer
I homeschooled my three children for seven years, and I could not have been successful without the help of the Lynnwood Library. This privilege has helped me to instill a love of learning, as well as a love for the written word, in my children. It is something I will always treasure.
Michele - Lynnwood Library customer
There have been times in my life when I haven't been able to buy the books I want, so libraries have been a way to deal with my problems, going places I have never been and learning new things even at 60 years of age. Libraries are pathways to learning and fun.
Annette - Lake Stevens Library customer
We have a family that frequents our library. One of their older boys is away in California and the other day was his birthday. The father asked us for help installing Skype on his laptop. We quickly showed him how to sign up and he walked away in awe at how simple it was.
Shortly after, I heard "Happy Birthday" being sung from our meeting room. I looked over to see the mom and dad and four of the siblings gathered around the laptop, singing! With closer inspection, I was able to see their son's smiling face on the screen and even wish him a "happy birthday" myself. I was so thrilled to see this family "gathering" and had to smile at this clever application of technology.
The library remains a center for people, ideas, and culture; a place where families can congregate, even if it means using our high-speed Wi-Fi to do so. His mom's only complaint was that she wasn't able to hug him through the computer.
Asheley Bryson - Darrington Library customer
On Saturday, Aug. 7, artist and fly fisherman Bob Banks taught a Fly Tying class at the Marysville Library. Three people attended. Unsuccessful program? Not in the slightest.
One of the attendees, John, had flown in from Missouri to visit his brother-in-law and met Bob the day before through the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club. John works with veterans and had heard about a device called the ‘Evergreen Hand,' which enables people to tie fishing flies with just one hand.
Bob's assistant Jesse Scott, who also works with disabled veterans, is the designer of the device. When John had the opportunity to spend the two-hour workshop experimenting with the Evergreen Hand, he was delighted! He kept exclaiming, "I can't believe I'm getting to use this!" Then Jesse told John he could take it with him to use with veterans in Missouri, and the smile that split John's face is something I will never forget!
Getting to be a partial catalyst in helping people halfway across the country in a way I could never have imagined gives me one more reason to be thankful for my profession and the variety of services Sno-Isle provides.
Mark - Marysville Library staff