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Johnson City Public Library Serves the Community | Arts and Entertainment

Libraries hold millions and thousands of stories.

In fact, there are so many of them that the library’s own history can be overlooked.

“For years, we have struggled to tell our own story about everything that happens here because there is such a huge variety of services and collections,” said Julia Turpin, director of the Johnson City Public Library.

Many may think of the library solely as a place to borrow books and films or print documents, but it’s much more than that. The library is highly adaptive and its services continue to evolve and change based on the needs of the community.

Many resources go beyond what people might expect.

Of course, most of us are familiar with “typical” library services, such as loaning materials and providing access to a computer and printer. Some are aware of the library’s online resources and the range of activities the building hosts.

But few are aware of the scope of these resources and how valuable the library is.

A library “for everyone,” Turpin said. “From birth to the grave, we serve people – and I think we are unique in that as well.”

The library hosts many early literacy activities that have the dual purpose of developing children’s reading skills and offering guidance and support to children’s caregivers as they attempt to continue to encourage these skills at home. Turpin said the library is working closely with local school systems to support and complement the learning already taking place in the classroom.

Safe place for teenagers

The library serves as a safe place for teenagers to do their homework or meet friends and spend time. The Department of Teenage Services also runs numerous volunteer and community organization programs.

In addition to a computer and printing equipment, the library offers preparation materials for exams and proctors’ exams. Teens who are ready to take the ACT or SAT can learn and prepare better using these free resources. Adults who need to take the electoral exam can also study and take the supervised exam at the library.

Many of the services the library offers to adults are often forgotten or taken for granted.

The Adult Services Department works to meet the wide range of needs in the area, the Community Communications Team helps build the community, and Adult Spanish Classes help overcome language barriers in the community.

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Promoting wellness

The Library has worked with other community partners over the years on issues of public health and wellbeing. The Johnson City Public Library hosts informational sessions on stress management, dental health and blood pressure. It also hosted blood donations, vaccination clinics, family yoga classes, and life skills courses.

“Supporting a library means you support your community,” Turpin said. “All of this makes us a stronger community and we want Johnson City to be the best it can be. Having a strong public library is only part of that.”

Perhaps the biggest service that many people take for granted is free access to a plethora of resources for both education and entertainment. Families with young children who are hungry for knowledge and reading can quench their thirst for free through the library.

Researchers interested in local history can make use of the Tennessee Hall, which features an extensive collection of local history. By simply being in the library and connecting to its Wi-Fi, guests have free access to Ancestry.com.

The library even has digital resources through the Tennessee Digital Library, which provides digital access to resources whether or not you have a library card. There are also programs such as Liby and Hoopla that allow library patrons to access numerous digital copies of books, movies and TV shows.

open public space

In addition to these many ways the library helps build community, it is also a physical place where community is encouraged.

“Public libraries are important because they are one of the few truly free and open public spaces that exist in our communities,” Turpin said. “(It’s) a meeting place… that doesn’t present itself with an agenda or sell something.”

The Public Library continues to partner with other public institutions to create a safe and secure environment for people to gather and develop. Public libraries serve as a haven for homeless neighbors and teenagers who live in difficult or unsafe homes.

Public libraries continue to be the cornerstone of their communities despite the many changes that are taking place in these communities. There is something for everyone here, and even those who do not currently maintain libraries may be surprised by the variety of services they offer.

“I really encourage people to come and visit me,” Turpin said. “Because it’s a great way to fully understand how much is going on here. It’s not just about getting to know the new bestseller… it’s so much more.”

Additional information about the library’s activities and services can be found on its website jcpl.org.

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