Eileen Button

Eileen Button

From “Shhh!” to an energetic buzz

Libraries ain’t what they used to be

It’s 1975 and I’m walking into my local library in western New York. It’s quiet. Morgue quiet. I pass the card catalog on the way to the circulation desk where a librarian looks at me suspiciously, much like a store clerk eyes a shoplifter. She says nothing, lifting her eyebrows as she peers at me over her reading glasses.

“Um, hi,” I say. “I’m looking for a book.” And she sighs as if I’ve ruined her day.

I’m out of there in less than 10 minutes, empty handed. Although I’d like to roam the collection, I get the keen sense that I don’t belong … that the library is for people my grandmother’s age. I will be in college before I step foot into a public library again.

When I contrast that experience with today’s library, it’s hard to believe they’re the same place. Walk into a branch on any given day and there might be an author presenting a cooking demonstration, a storyteller captivating a group of lively preschoolers, or a group of adults in a heated discussion about their latest book club pick.



Walk by the computers and you’ll see a job seeker hammering out a resume, a teen downloading free music from the GDL website, and a librarian helping a patron research his family lineage using a GDL database. In short, the library is abuzz with ideas, its patrons meeting their individual needs from a single gathering place.

In a world that sadly lacks connection, the library offers a sense of community. Today, a library card provides access to services that would stun my childhood librarian.

So, if your library card is a bit dusty, brush it off and stop by one of our 19 branches to renew it. You’ll be amazed by all it has to offer.

Eileen Button is the Community Relations Manager for the Genesee District Library. She can be reached at

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