Library: a place to work, meet, learn
By John Gregory
The Scripps Miramar Ranch Library, which is now 30 years old, has evolved. It’s not only a place to find books, but also a center of activities, community meetings – and a place to work, study and explore new technology.
“The Scripps Ranch Library is an integral part of the community. We host the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (meetings) and the Scripps Ranch Planning Group here,” said Matt Beatty, library branch manager. “Libraries are a community meeting place for people. … We have regular homework help (for students). We have a lot of family and senior events here, and events for adults.”
There are story times for young children every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Fun & Games for Seniors are held twice each week; and there are several more activities held at the library regularly. Groups can sign up to schedule use of the various meeting rooms, and there is no cost as long as they do not charge for attendance.
Beatty, who had years of previous professional experience at libraries in Philadelphia, Poway and Ocean Beach before taking the reins in Scripps Ranch, described many of the things the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library has to offer, as well as some of the trends he sees.
One interesting aspect that harkens back to the image of a library being a place where silence is the main rule is Beatty’s observation that many use the library as a sanctuary in which to focus.
“In Scripps Ranch, an important function of the library is that people come here to be alone and work on things,” he said. “We have an awful lot of people, everyday, who come in with their computers or other devices to do their work away … They seem to need to get out of their house to get their work done, and this is where they come. Sometimes we have 30 or 40 people spread across the library. Since this is such a large space, people can be alone and yet be in the building with a lot of other people.”
Those wanting even more privacy can actually work from their vehicles parked in the two library lots.
“We have Wi-Fi outdoors, so people can do their work in their cars if they want. We have two Wi-Fi signals on when we are open facing each parking lot,” Beatty said.
The outdoor courtyard is frequently used by people for teleconferencing and meetings, Beatty said.
One of the much-anticipated programs coming to the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library is the IDEA Lab, which will be a maker space in the former computer lab area next to the manager’s room near the children’s department, Beatty said. It’s expected to be open in late spring or early summer.
The IDEA Lab will include a Silhouette Cameo machine, which is an electronic cutting tool that will be available for personal use. Another highlight will be a Glowforge laser cutting machine, which can “cut, score and edge materials like leather, wood or acrylic.”
The library will use the equipment for upcoming programs, and the staff will soon learn how to operate the equipment in the coming months, Beatty said.
Eventually, individuals will be able sign up to reserve a time to use the equipment.
“It turns out that, after the pandemic, we had fewer users for our public computers. People didn’t want to be in that small room, so we spread the computers out and we found we needed fewer of them because most people have their own devices these days,” he said.
Even though the use of new technology is increasing, a main draw of the library remains the physical books, surviving the longtime rise of E-readers such as the Kindle.
“The books aren’t going away. It’s been shown that younger readers, people under 40, actually prefer paper books to electronic books,” Beatty said. “In Scripps Ranch, we have many families that come in and check out large numbers of children’s books. So, children’s books are still very popular here. I don’t think that’s going away.”
In addition to the books that can be checked out, visitors to the library can purchase used books from Grace’s Book Nook at much lower cost than buying new books.
The library also has monthly book sales that benefit the Scripps Ranch Friends of the Library, which supports library programs including the new IDEA Lab. The sales are held the second Saturday of each month, Beatty said, and two much larger book sales are held during the course of each year.
“It’s one of the places you can buy affordable books,” Beatty said, adding that the used books for sale are especially helpful for local families that might struggle financially to buy new books.