The Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL) and Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County (MLS) have reimagined the uninspired vision of a library – finding a book and shushing your voice – into an intoxicating abundance of dynamic experiences.
And that’s welcome news, because every Tulsa County resident lives within five miles of a TCCL library branch. And MLS has 19 library locations throughout Oklahoma County, plus a 24-hour-a-day Metro to Go kiosk in Edmond for returns and pickups.
Both systems have creative maker spaces and studios. TCCL’s is a “hands-on learning space to develop new skills and work on a hobby,” with access to a variety of equipment options ranging from laser engravers and sewing machines to podcast production equipment, says Hector Arrazola, coordinator of maker spaces at TCCL.
Angel Suhrstedt, director of communications for the MLS, says the Bethany and Belle Isle locations have Maker Spaces where guests can use everything from digital printers to sewing machines and recording equipment. Several locations have Maker Space Carts, and “our new Almonte Library and Edmond2 will have maker studios,” she says.
MLS classes include English as a Second Language; Citizenship; HiSET; Computers; and how to navigate Medicare; plus one-on-one tech help. Guests can dive into knitting, crocheting, fiber arts, books, movies, boards, tai chi, painting and crafts. Kids and teens even have access to Dungeons and Dragons clubs.
“If we see a need from the community, it would be something we explore,” says Suhrstedt. “We have robust programs available as digital resources, such as Mango Languages and Little Pim for kids.”
TCCL offers Yuchi and Kiowa language classes, alongside other class topics that include ways to start healthy habits and foreign policy.
“We also host many author events annually, and bestow four author awards,” says Ellen Cummings, TCCL director of customer experiences.
TCCL guests use the digital literacy lab to develop new apps and software skills, try out equipment and digitize family history. Plus, numerous online resources include a digital catalog of historical photos and ephemera. The MLS digital collections include historic photos and documents, books, audio books, movies, music, newspapers and more than 150 databases including Ancestry.com.
TLLC offers the PAWS for Reading Program, allowing children to read aloud to a registered therapy dog, plus a world-class program offering videos in which Grammy Award-winning music professionals help all levels of players reach their music goals.
TLLC houses the African American, Hispanic, and American Indian resource centers, and the Summer Reading Program participation ranges up to 65,000.
As Oklahoma’s largest library system, MLS serves anyone who lives, attends schools or owns property in Oklahoma County. MLS is one of 50 U.S. libraries hosting Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries, an educational initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.. Guests may experience the exhibit at the Downtown Library at 300 Park Ave. through Feb. 12.