Vibrant, modern libraries

  • County libraries have changed with the times, staying vibrant in our communities
  • They host public computers, meeting rooms, story times, hundreds of free classes & programs
  • Almost all programs are free, thanks to sponsors, ranging from baby times to senior services
  • Thousands join New Castle County Reads, with same book & author visiting for special program
  • No longer just books, libraries stream movies, offer e-books, audiobooks, DVDs & more
  • New state-of-the-art Route 9 Library & Innovation Center to open next year
  • Library system provides 83 full time jobs and dozens of part-time positions
  • With 219,437 card holders, gets nearly 2.4 million visits, makes nearly 4 million loans a year
Many residents don’t know New Castle County operates an extensive network of modern-service public libraries, with County Council allocating millions of dollars under contracts with other libraries in Wilmington, Delaware City, New Castle and Odessa to support their operation and public service.

Our libraries have changed with the times, meeting public needs for free computer and meeting space access, while growing various programs that keep them a vibrant part of our community. In addition to traditional books, county libraries offer e-books and audiobooks, DVDs from educational topics to latest hit movies and a range of other materials. The libraries now have streaming videos with selections from horror to film classics and non-fiction educational programs such as “Easy Sign Language.”

Library-based services run from free tax-preparation help to training for technology based jobs.

Our libraries host hundreds of clubs, programs and classes – most free, thanks to sponsors -- with emphasis on lifelong learning, quality of life and fitness. Many programs are designed for older residents, to avoid scams, get help, use computers, stay healthy and handle Medicare.

Free movies are shown often, popcorn provided. Libraries’ popular story times – also free – go from babies to family pajama programs and PAWS for Reading programs where children read to therapy dogs, cats and bunnies to boost their communication skills. Other opportunities for kids run from chess clubs to Young Writers Workshops and Imazine, a literary/arts magazine. Our libraries are assisted by the Library Advisory Board and Friends’ organizations.

The annual New Castle County Reads program has blossomed into a huge community share as thousands of residents and scores of book clubs read and discuss the featured book selection. The 2016 program, with events for all ages, featured “The Boys in the Boat,” a book by Daniel James Brown that is being made into a movie. About 2,000 people attended his guest talk about how he came to tell the true story of poor boys learning to row and winning at the Nazi-led 1934 Olympics. (Our libraries also tie in to “The Big Read,” a global program to read selected books.)

The Summer Reading Challenge also engages Children and families, helping kids keep up reading skills through summer, with Blue Rocks tickets and other exciting incentives.

The libraries’ new newsletter, “Pages … @ Your Library,” provides another way to keep up with the latest and help the libraries keep improving.

A new state-of-the-art facility, the Route 9 Innovation Center & Library, is due to open near New Castle in 2017, serving as a base for numerous programs and activities, including science, technology, engineering and math, as well as the permanent home of the Eric A. Swayze LEGO Collection. Many resident support services also will be based in the new facility, with the county also investing in community stabilization and more access to jobs as well as other area assets.

The Book Buddy program, one of many involving volunteers, delivers books and other library materials each month to support and help the homebound and their caretakers.

That, scores of classes and special programs, along with uncounted volunteer opportunities, are published quarterly in HAPPENINGS, available at county libraries and on the county website. The libraries’ part of the website also offers reading suggestions of all types for all ages, along with access to search library materials available statewide.

Our libraries have evolved into community centers, last year starting “Food for Fines,” collecting canned goods and other non-perishable foods for the needy, forgiving donors’ library fines – and getting positive media coverage as far away as California.

The county library system provides 83 full-time jobs and dozens of part-time positions.

By the latest counts, there are 219,437 county library card holders and the system gets nearly 2.4 million visits each year, lending nearly 4 million items annually. Collections total more than a million lending items, not counting reference materials, magazines, newspapers and e-books.