Oklahoma City’s Metropolitan Library System surpassed 3 million digital check-outs in 2022. That level of engagement ranks our library users as active as much larger communities like Los Angeles County and Houston’s Harris County.
Expanding the digital collection was just one of many unique ways that MLS staff has flexed their creativity during the past two years of the pandemic. They were one of the first library systems in the nation to offer the Children Reading to Dogs program virtually and even enhanced WiFi strength at their 19 locations so patrons could access it from the parking lot when the buildings were closed.
The MLS team is carrying that creativity and flexibility into 2023 with even more unique offerings to fit the community’s needs.
“We are constantly evaluating how to reach our community,” said Angel Suhrstedt, communications director for Metropolitan Library System. “We are doing some unique things, and that has really helped us cement ourselves as the heart of the community. We are more than just books.”
5 things you may not know the Metropolitan Library System offers:
- In response to requests, in 2023, libraries will be adding more free family programs on evenings and weekends. The Edmond library offers a weekly evening story time, which kids often attend in their pajamas! In Del City, family art nights encourage creativity and a Sunday robotics club draws patrons from around the city. Tai Chi, Zumba, yoga and other exercise programs are offered at various locations, all free to enjoy. A new gardening program for families, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Health, will launch this spring.In addition to continuing longtime family favorites like weekly story times and Children Reading to Dogs, free family take-home kits with creative themes like kitchen table science, creating clay sculptures and making light-sensitive paper are available at all locations. “Increasing a child’s literacy is of utmost importance, but we also want kids to have fun and to have new experiences,” said Suhrstedt.
- Not sure what to read? Get a list of Tailored Titles, curated by a librarian, for you or your child. Visit metrolibrary.org to fill out a form about your (or your child’s) reading interests; then, you’ll receive a list of 10 to 12 suggestions. Hop on Facebook every other week for virtual Tailored Titles, where community members can interact with librarians to receive their live recommendations. Plus, don’t miss the Summer Reading Program, where both kids and adults can log minutes to earn prizes! After you enter your child into the program, you’ll receive weekly book recommendations based on their ages and interests throughout the year.
- MLS Labs offer unique (and FREE!) access to STEM-based tools and equipment, like 3D printers, engravers, wood-burning kits, button makers, embroidery sewing machines and much more. Both the Belle Isle and Bethany libraries have full MLS Labs, or Makerspaces, on site with Mac and Windows-based computers with the full Adobe Suite of software available for use. Bethany also has a green screen, lighting and recording equipment for budding videographers. Dedicated staff members are on site to help with projects. Patrons can make an appointment to use the equipment and materials. Several additional MLS locations have Maker carts, which include 3D printers and an assortment of tech tools available for programs and patron use.
- Two new Metro Library locations are in the works! The new Almonte Library at SE 59th Street and May Avenue will be open by the end of the year. The current Almonte Library, located in a shopping center, opened over a decade ago to serve local patrons when the Southern Oaks Library shut down briefly for remodeling. Though intended to be temporary, the location was so popular that it has remained open all this time, and the new location (right across the street from the current one) will be twice the size and include a Makerspace. Edmond will get a second library at I-35 and 15th Street by 2025. The original Edmond location is the busiest library in the state, but because it’s landlocked and has limited parking, a new library is needed to meet the community’s needs. The new library will offer programs in conjunction with the YMCA, to be located next door, and nearby Arcadia Lake. Fun fact: MLS opened a kiosk in the Mitch Park parking lot a few years ago for west Edmond patrons. Stop by to pick up a hold, return books or check out popular titles.
- Beyond books and family fun, our libraries offer community services and resource connections. Social workers are embedded in several locations to assist families in need of food, housing or employment, as well as to connect community members with mental health services. A monthly mobile market offers free produce at several locations in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. And for patrons of any age who need help learning to read or with literacy support services, MLS locations can provide that, too.
Learn more about all the programs offered at MLS locations across the metro at metrolibrary.org.
Did You Know?
- All MLS locations are fine free!
- Check out times have been extended to three weeks.
- Materials will be automatically re-checked out to you after the three-week period unless another patron has the material on hold, in which case you’ll be notified.