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Serving Up Stories at Sterling Municipal Library

The author of this blog is Jenna Harte-Wisnieski, the Marketing Librarian for the Sterling Municipal Library.

When was the last time you used a library? Did you check out a book, use the free Wifi, or type up a resume? If you have not been to visit Sterling Municipal Library recently you may be surprised by the changes made just within the last year. Libraries are pretty notorious for being stale and unchanging, but the staff at the Sterling Municipal Library promises a new experience every time you visit.

As soon as you walk through our front doors, you will realize that we are not like other libraries. In our foyer, you can take a walk down memory lane while viewing a photo mural designed by local artist Ruth Burke showcasing pictures and headlines dating back to the earliest days of Baytown. After brushing up on your local history, you can check out our newest feature, The Story Bar.

The only one of its kind in the whole country, Story Bar is serving up stories to library guests. An appealing atmosphere and beautifully crafted bar welcomes teens and adults to sit and browse any of the six iPads. Beginning with the digital version of the Houston Chronicle and a wide selection of digital magazines, the first two iPads will keep you up to date on your periodicals. Looking for your next great read? The recommended reads iPad is kept up to date with tools like book reviews, reader recommendations, author interviews, and read-alikes to help you choose your next favorite book.

We all have a story to tell, but hearing someone else’s story can be fascinating. That’s why we read fiction and memoirs, right? The true storytelling of Story Bar happens on the remaining iPads where a combination of podcasts, articles, videos, poetry, and more fuse together around a specific theme to tell a new story each week. Story Bar topics run the gamut from drought, nature vs. nurture, and living alone, to the ever-popular musical Hamilton, funk music, and real life ghost stories. Story Bar is guaranteed to entertain and enlighten and is open during all business hours, so feel free to pull up a stool on your next visit to the library. Be sure to sign our guest book and enter a limited time Swag Bag giveaway while you’re there. Oh, and trust me: it’s so much better while enjoying your morning tea or coffee.

The delight doesn’t end with Story Bar, just past the information desk you will find the library’s Think Tank, an interactive room that features a new experience every month. One month you might be typing up the next great American novel on an old-fashioned typewriter, and the next month you’ll find yourself in outer space creating your own constellation. With its hands-on focus, Think Tank is a favorite stop for library visitors of all ages.

Next door to Think Tank is the library’s very own Media Lab. Stocked with three 3D printers, a 3D scanner, two iMacs with garage band and 3D printing software, Media Lab is a 3D printing paradise where anyone from novice to pro can learn how to create a 3D printed item, and have it printed for free on one of our machines. Librarian Lesley Kohles says the coolest thing she has ever seen come out of Media Lab was a custom action figure. The project began with a patron sculpting a clay figurine, scanning it on the 3D Replicator and printing it. And I have to say, I agree that is very cool! Everyone deserves their very own action figure. You can drop into Media Lab Monday through Wednesday at 4:00pm, or Thursdays at 6:00pm for an orientation. There is always something interesting being printed, so if you can’t make it during those hours take a peek through the windows and watch the printers in action.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything the library offers. If you’re wondering, “do people still read?” let me answer that for you… yes! In fact, more than 412,000 books were checked out last year alone! That’s not even including eBooks which can be downloaded for free on your smartphone or tablet wherever you can connect to Wifi.

Whether you’re coming to the library to check out a book, dance in story time with your young ones, or enjoy your morning joe at Story Bar, there is always something to do at the library. Every time you come through our doors you’ll enjoy an entirely new experience. There is something for everyone to explore when you make the library a part of your own story.

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