Progress Edition

Mid-Columbia Libraries: Serving the Mid-Columbia with more than just good reads

Mid-Columbia Libraries hosted J.K. Rowling’s Magical World exhibition in February 2017.
Mid-Columbia Libraries hosted J.K. Rowling’s Magical World exhibition in February 2017. Courtesy Mid-Columbia Libraries

The mission of Mid-Columbia Libraries is to enhance quality of life by providing excellence in books and services for our residents and communities. With more than 400,000 items in our collection, it’s no surprise we check out more than 2.4 million items annually.

As an intercounty rural library district, Mid-Columbia Libraries provides resources and services to the residents of Benton, Franklin and Adams counties of Eastern Washington. In 2017, more than half of the households in our service areas used their local library branch. Mid-Columbia Libraries cardholders also have access to one of the largest digital collections in Washington state, with more than 50,000 eBooks free of charge.

We proactively engage our customers through targeted on- and off-site programs for adults and children, and, this past year, we engaged more than 13,500 participants in building a better world at home and in their community during the annual Summer Reading Challenge. Throughout the summer, participants of all ages read, explored, and created and were entered to win prizes provided by the Friends of Mid-Columbia Libraries. Summer Reading Challenge events included Badger Mountain glow hikes, live owls at the library, LEGO-themed programming, concerts by children’s band Recess Monkey, and workshops with the Pacific Science Center.

In honor of the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, Mid-Columbia Libraries hosted J.K. Rowlings Magical World exhibition in February 2017. The exhibition explored the characters, places, and powers that make up the wizarding world of the international bestselling author of the Harry Potter series. The exhibition also included themed programming, movie marathons, and a Night at Hogwarts event that was attended by nearly 1,000 community members who met the Sorting Hat, got a wand, learned to play Quidditch, and more.

To continue stimulating imaginations in our community, Mid-Columbia Libraries will host a Fairy Tale Faire on March 3, 2018, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kennewick library, at 1620 S. Union St. Experience your favorite fairy and folk tales brought to life. Meet costumed characters and enjoy activities, crafts, and treats for purchase from local vendors. Costumes are encouraged!

We also hosted Mid-Columbia Reads last fall. This literary celebration builds community through the collective experience of reading, thinking and discussing ideas that raise important social issues while building future readers and writers in the region.

The second annual event culminated in a visit from famed Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith to our community. Author of the New York Times and international bestselling series, “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency”, McCall Smith reception drew an audience of 800 that was captivated by his every word. In 2018, Mid-Columbia Reads plans to welcome Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven, a National Book Award Finalist.

Building on our current activities, Mid-Columbia Libraries creates and sustains strong reciprocal partnerships with local organizations and businesses; examples include Columbia Basin Badger Club readers, Words in Progress at Paper Street Brewery, Li-BREWERY Trivia Nights at Barley, May the Fourth with The Rude Mechanicals, Mid-Columbia Reads, TEDx Richland, community lectures with Humanities Washington, Tri-Cities Cancer Center men and Sembrando Esperanza/Planting Hope Spanish language workshops together with the Tri-Cities Latino Community Network and Kennewick School District.

The enthusiastic response to new partnerships and activities further demonstrates that libraries are the lifeblood of our communities serving as trusted providers of critical resources, educational training, skills development, and civic and cultural enrichment.

2017 was a successful year at Mid-Columbia Libraries, and we look forward to serving the community in 2018.