Dripping Springs' silent information explosion gaining momentum

Lonnie Atkinson and Library Director Marcia Atilano prep for the "Jazz at the Library" summer concert. In addition to books and information, the Dripping Springs Community Library hosts many community events throughout the year.

Alice Adams


Question: Where in Dripping Springs can you book a trip to any destination at any time?

Question: Without leaving the Dripping Springs City Limits, where can you meet a long, lost relative?

Question: If you wanted to start work on a robot, where can you go to learn how?

Hint #1: This place, near the heart of the city, has historic beginnings.

Hint #2: More than 92,000 visitors are expected at this place this year.

If you answered Dripping Springs Community Library, located at 501 Sportsplex Drive, (www.dscl.org) near Dripping Springs High School, you are absolutely correct!

Within its walls, you can visit any atoll, island, country or continent on the map, learn about its history, culture, economy, people, politics, geography and geology, using books, DVDs, audiobooks and e-resources.

You can meet any of your lost relatives through digital resources, including ancestry.com, and according to Marcia Atilano, MLS - Library Director, ancestry.com was accessed last year at the library 2,822 times. The availability of this digital treasure trove saved individual family tree researches a whopping $20 per monthly subscription or $99 each for six months' use.

"We're constantly trying to get out the word about all the resources, e-resources, classes, programs and special events here at the library," said Atilano, who found her passion for library services when she worked at Kansas State University's library system...and followed her love for serving the information-seeking public by commuting 90 miles through rural Kansas to earn a graduate degree in library science.

These passions, coupled with a life-long love for books, reading and education, made Atilano a perfect fit when she came to the Dripping Springs Community Library in 2014. "I enjoy this [public library] setting, helping people realize all the amazing free resources at the library -- books, digital sources, lifelong learning and entertainment.

She also credit's the DSCL's amazing history of community support for the library's popularity among today's DS residents. "The city was incorporated in '83, and in '85, civic leaders opened a collection in the high school (where Dripping Springs Middle School is located now). Imagine that: two years after incorporation the library was formed," she repeated. "That speaks volumes about this community's emphasis on knowledge enrichment, and Dripping Springs has built a solid reputation for learning excellence at all levels as a core value," the director added.

Her simple goals for the library mask the complexity and challenges of its mission. "We want to reach into this growing community," Atilano said, "and as new people move in, they are finding the library. This past July, we added 250 new members in one month, and this pushed us past the 10,000 mark in active library card holders. That's a significant number and it's growing!"

While recognizing many Dripping Springs residents still drive to Austin for library services, the director said anyone in the library's service district (which includes all of Hays County) can obtain a library card at no cost.

"We don't charge for attending programs, taking part in a class, even in the summer -- June and July are our busiest time of year, when we increase our programming -- and all of our digital resources are free as well," she said.

A sample of the free digital resources the library offers includes:

1. RBdigital, Hays County Consortium- Downloadable eBooks and eAudio Books — download on desktops, and other mobile devices.

2. OverDrive, Central Texas Consortium- Downloadable eBooks an eAudio Books — download on desktops, and other mobile devices.

3. TexShare Databases (68)- include thousands of full-text magazines and newspapers, WorldCat (35 million library records), Science, Social Science, and Literature databases, on-line encyclopedias, including Pronunciator (learn any of 80 languages) and Pronunciator (Espanol); Procitizen- preparing you for U.S. ci tizenship and Procitizen (Espanol)

4. World Book Online- contains tens of thousands of authoritative articles with photographs, illustrations, and maps.

5. Universal Class - Learn something new today. Over 500 online Continuing Education Courses. Free with your library card.

6. Mango Languages - Learn one of over 71 new languages today. Free with your library card.

7. Ancestry.com Library Edition - A comprehensive online source of information for conducting genealogical research. *This is the only DSCL digital resource that must be used exclusively in the library.

8. Flipster - The magazines everybody knows and loves. Now available for anyone to browse, select and read by downloading an app on your phone or other device.

9. NewsBank - The most comprehensive collection of full-text newspapers globally, Access World News provides extensive coverage at every level—international, national, regional, state and local (5315 sources with 134 specific to Texas. Local News Included: Austin American Statesmen & San Marcos Daily Record).

This searchable Web-based resource features news content from all 50 U.S. states as well as more than 5,300 international news sources from 140 countries. News content may be included in its original published language or translated into English.

"We purchase award-winning children's, young adults and books for general audiences in print and e-books in support of our schools," Atilano explained. "We are a resource for our public school libraries, Dripping Christian Academy (training teachers on digital resources), we also work with home schoolers who want to use our digital resources," the director said, "and we encourage all new teachers to come get a free card if they live or work anywhere in Hays County," she said.

"We hope area parents will begin literacy training for their children at an early age, and invite them to weekly Story Times for children from 6 months. to 3-year-olds. We also have story times for toddlers and a program in which parents can set a goal of reading 1000 books to their little ones before kindergarten.

"The library offers access to knowledge to everyone," Atilano continued. "Anyone can come and use our computers. They don't need a library card, and we regularly have people with laptops come in to use our Wi-Fi connection.

"We are here to serve the community," the director concluded. "We invite anyone who wants to volunteer to let us know because we need volunteers, and we cordially invite adults and children to attend our classes and attend our special events, which are all listed on our website.

The library is open the following hours: Monday - Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays. For a full schedule of upcoming events, go to www.dscl.org, or visit the library any time. "Everyone is welcome," Atilano said.


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