Almost 10,000 people in McDuffie County are cardholders of the Thomson-McDuffie County Library and five times that number took advantage of the many services offered by the library during the past year, according to librarian Suzan Harris.
"Library cards are available to any citizen in Georgia," Ms. Harris said. "All you need is a photo ID and proof of your current address. The card is free and is good at any library in the state that is a Pines Library."
TRADITIONAL SERVICES -- Cardholders are able to check out any materials from the library, including books, magazines, audio books, and DVDs. Print materials that are not readily available at the Thomson-McDuffie library, but are listed on the Pine system, can be reserved and sent to the local library free of charge. New releases are excluded from this service until they've been out six months.
"That allows our patrons access to them before someone outside our region can get them," Mrs. Harris said.
The local library offers many family-rated DVDs which can be checked out for one week. Books, audio books and back-issue magazines may be checked out for two weeks, and current magazines may be checked out for one day. Ms. Harris said 47,000 books and recordings were checked out last year in Thomson.
The library also carries current and past editions of local newspapers, which can be read on the premises.
TECHNOLOGY SERVICES -- Cardholders may use any of the library's 21 public access computers to access the internet for free. Public WiFi also is available for patrons who can bring their own laptop computers with wireless capabilities.
Anyone using the computers may print off the computer for 10 cents for black and white copies and 25 cents for color, "which is cheap," Ms. Harris said. Photocopying also is available for the same fee.
Fax services are available, but the price recently changed to two dollars for every five pages.
SPECIAL ROOMS -- The history room is available for those doing genealogical research. The conference room, which holds 12 people, is available free during public hours.
The large meeting room, which accommodates 75-100 people, is free to any civic, educational or governmental group. A $50 deposit is required from anyone who will serve refreshments. Commercial groups may use the room for a small fee.
The large room is available after regular library hours.
"But the person needs a library card to check out the key," Ms. Harris said.
COMMUNITY SERVICES -- The Social Security Administration sends a representative two days a month and the Insurance Commission sends a representative every other month so people don't have to drive to Augusta for those services.
Voter registration and Notary Public services also are available and the Thomson-McDuffie Library also carries income tax forms.
"That's not a required service, we just do it for the people in the community because there was such a need," Ms. Harris said.
Librarians also visit local pre-k classes for regular story times during the school year.
During the summer, the summer reading program offers weekly story times, craft classes and educational programs for children.
This past summer, 651 children participated in the program.
Bookmobile service is available for home-bound citizens, neighborhood stops, daycare centers, schools and other institutions.
"And the best thing is that it's all free . What could be better?" said Frances Cowart, a Friends of the Library member.
Located at 338 Main Street in Thomson, the local library is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 706-595-1341.
Library cards are free and offer the cardholder access to all of the services offered at the local library. The card also enables the cardholder to access items from other libraries in the system, which can be delivered to the local library.