Thursday, July 26, 2012

Psssst ... There's a free lending library at The Mercury's Community Media Lab

Today I'm writing from The Mercury's brand new Community Media Lab, where the newpaper offers the public free WiFi, the use of three computers, a microfilm machine to look up past editions of the paper, and space to hold a meeting or small gathering.

The lab is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday immediately adjacent to the offices of The Mercury at 24 N. Hanover St., Pottstown (located at the intersection of King and Hanover streets). The lab celebrated its grand opening on July 20.  It is usually staffed by Mercury Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman, but sometimes she gets to have a day off and people like me fill in.

Our lending "library" at the lab.
At the lab we also have a small lending library of books on loan from various Mercury staffers. Our "library" consists of just one 3-tiered bookshelf, but on it you'll find a fair sampling of books in lots of different genres.

There's an 8-book collection of Anita Shreve novels (great for the beach!); various mystery/suspense/thriller novels by writers including Mary Higgins Clartk, Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, and Thomas Harris; non-fiction writing including Jon Krakauer's amazing book "Into the Wild" and Stephen King's "On Writing"; and some of my personal picks, which include "The Book of Ruth" by Jane Hamilton (dark and deep) "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd (mysterious and engrossing) and "Turtle Moon" by Alice Hoffman (magical and enchanting).

We had a total of 5 visitors today!
We are also in the lending library some how-to books - "The Garden Primer,"  and "Train Your Dog in One Hour" and even some nonfiction offerings from local (Pottstown!) writers: "The Chiropractic Way to Health" by Leo McCormick, Darryl Hajduczek and Roger Walker: as well as the extremely well done "Save Our Land, Save Our Towns" by former Mercury Editor Thomas Hylton. We also have a copy of the stellar documentary that accompany's Tom's book.

There are also several copies of Mercury Reporter Evan Brandt's "The Hidden River" series, which have been in demand since he wrote the newspaper series on the Schuylkill River way back in 2001. That's how good it is!

Some Mercury staffers including me and Mercury Editor Nancy March plan to note some of our book recommendations (just like those staff picks you see at a bookstore) and rotate them each months. So far, we still need to make the staff pick signs, but Nancy has put her recommendations of Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man" and Philly writer Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" atop the shelf. Mine are those mentioned above.

We're also open to having "guest picks" - Do you have any good books you'd care to recommend? Please comment below!

A view of the lab at the end of open hours today.

Stop by check out the community media lab and our lending library. Search the 'Net, sit and read in our cushy new microfiber loveseat from Pottstown's own Lastick Furniture or take a book home for free (we just ask that you sign it out ... and promise to bring it back).

It's 100 degrees out today, but it's a cool 72.1 here in the lab. It's a nice place to stop for a cup of $1 coffee (we have a Keurig), hold a small meeting, work on our new computers or peruse some microfilm copies of The Mercury going back to 1933.

Come see us!

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