Libraries promote programs, resources and more in literacy push

Published 7:21 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

February is “Love Your Library” month in Beaufort County.

In partnership with the Beaufort County 360 literacy task force, libraries are getting the word out about their programs and resources and where you can find them across the county. According to Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library Director Hannah Easley, many people are simply unaware of what’s available to them through county libraries.

“A lot of people don’t know that you can get a library card from three different libraries,” Easley said.

And those three different libraries actually add up to six locations. Brown Library and Beaufort County Community College are two in Washington, and as part of the BHM Regional Library, there are four more locations in the county — in Aurora, Bath, Belhaven and BHM headquarters in Washington. Added to those six locations, are libraries in Beaufort County Schools.

“All families can use the libraries in all the schools,” Easley said. “A lot of people don’t know that’s something they can do.”

In an effort to promote services, every kindergarten through 8th-grade student will receive a bookmark in February, on which are addresses, contact information and resources such as the new digital children’s library, NC Kids, and NC Cardinal, an immense state database of book, audio and video files available to anyone with a library card, are listed for each library. The free bookmarks will be available at all libraries in the county throughout the month.

“It’s just one small step to try to get this information into the hands of people who need it,” said Penny Sermons, a member of the State Library of North Carolina commission and BC360 literacy task force.

The task force is unfunded, so small steps are necessary in achieving the ultimate goal to improve literacy, not only for children, but for entire families, in the county. With approximately a quarter of Beaufort County residents considered functionally illiterate, the task force is starting with promotion of what libraries and their staffs can do for residents. A broad array of services are offered, ranging from helping customers write resumes to teaching them how to apply for those jobs online; from access to the most basic online computer tutorials to online courses teaching specific software, such as Microsoft Excel.

Programs, however, aren’t limited to learning life skills in a digital age, according to Easley. In fact, there’s plenty of fun stuff to do at libraries.

“Aurora does a ton of adult programs. The librarians there are great about coming up with fun things for adults to do,” Easley said.

There’s adult coloring and origami for older members; storytime and bubble art for the younger ones. Brown Library has a highly successful teen program where activities include movie nights, costume parties and anime creation. In the Aurora and Belhaven BHM location, there’s a program called “Book a Librarian” in which members can book a half hour of a librarian’s time to get help with challenges such as learning a new smartphone.
“We really are a service organization. We’re here to help people and provide services,” Easley said.

In celebration of “Love Your Library” month, BHM Library is offering fine forgiveness, where fees are dropped for overdue books, no matter how long overdue they are. All one has to do is return the book.

“That could be something that just got checked out, or something that got lost under the couch or under the seat in the car a long time ago,” Easley said.

She said sometimes things get lost, and are found again, but BHM does not want to deprive members of services simply because they’re embarrassed to return a book or don’t have the money to pay the fines.

“We don’t want that to be a barrier to use — worrying about a high overdue fine,” Easley said. “We want there to be a really positive experience about using the library, and sometimes fees can turn it into a bad experience rather than a good one.”

It’s the second time BHM has held a fine forgiveness month.

“We did it for the first time last year. I think there was a really positive response,” Easley said. “You could see the kind of relief on their faces.”

For more information about programs and services offered at Brown Library and BHM Library’s headquarters and satellite locations, visit their websites at and; BHM libraries’ events can be found at