Timeless Tybee

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The easternmost point in Georgia, Tybee Island reminds me of the coastal hamlets of my New England youth.  Just up from the massive pier (unfortunately closed since sustaining damage during Hurricane Matthew last fall), the street is full of beach shops and seafood joints.

Running parallel to the sand, the main byway is dotted with hotels, summer rentals and the Tybee Library (TL).

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Part of Live Oak Public Libraries (LOPL), the tri-county Savannah region system, TL is a friendly spot serving about 3000 residents and any number of tourists.

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A long wheelchair ramp leads to a tiled foyer featuring a plaque honoring donors and a selection of informational pamphlets below the fantastical verdigris ship sculpture Sailing through the Power of the Mind, a chandelier by renowned ironworker, Ivan Bailey.

The one floor building has a raised roof set off by jaunty blue and white rickrack partitions.  Prior to opening in 1988 they were in a wing of city hall next door.  The fields and palm trees of the YMCA are on the other side, and conveniently, just down Butler Avenue you’ll find Tybee Island Maritime Academy, a charter school that uses TL as its library.

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Manager Laurel Powers was at the front desk when I arrived and she gave me a warm welcome and was able to chat for a bit between patrons.  They love to dress up the place and though it was mid February, were just taking down Christmas decorations to free space up for Mardi Gras paraphernalia like the garland bordering the top of the glass.  Not ones to be caught off guard, they were already preparing kelly green St. Patrick’s Day rosettes.

Laurel praised her talented staff and said that coworker Ellen O’Leary created this wonderful octopus in the story time room…

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…so big, its arm extends onto the ceiling.  Fun pieces hang on the walls and Michael P. White, illustrator of The Library Dragon, donated two sunset shaded paintings of the island, one with the bibliophilic sea creature lurking just off shore.

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TL has six public computers and 24/7 wifi.  LOPL’s website offers titles from Georgia Download Destination, TumbleBooks for kids and movies, magazines, books and audios from various vendors.  There are journal databases as well as language learning, practice tests and online tutoring for all ages.  Choose from mobile-friendly e-blasts on topics ranging from Education & Careers to History (learn about the unexploded nuclear bomb off Tybee Island!) & Genealogy.

When I scanned it, the Facebook page had a vibrant “Celebrate Black History” banner and was splashed with rave reviews of the library, recommendations, interesting articles and useful tips, shots of board and Friends meetings, and of the fascinating traveling exhibit Gray’s Reef on the Road.  I was intrigued by the collage of photos from a “Walking Dead” night and saw announcements for local, cultural and pertinent happenings and for free assistance enrolling for benefits like Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids, an effort to improve children’s health.

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Tall windows look onto green vistas by the magazines and paperback spinners

LOPL has nineteen branches, a bookmobile and school outreach plus delivery to senior and daycare centers and the homebound.  Ten meeting spaces (one here) are available for the public to reserve and there’s a career center and a foundation.

At the numerous locations customers borrow Kill-a-Watt energy conservation kits or go to Tea and Tales, writer’s groups, credit workshops, Medicare 101, yoga, GED and internet classes or get advice at computer labs or healthy heart and money management sessions.  To celebrate turning 100 last November, the Bull Street Library, which holds administration, is presenting thoughtful portraits by local artist Panhandle Slim of some of the award winning nonprofit Deep Center‘s participants.

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In the stacks

TL itself hosts events like Family Game Night and holiday crafts.  Adults make bookmarks, join the Bookworms or relax at a congenial gathering of coloring aficionados.

Tybee used to have an ocean view until the condos across the road blocked it, though under the right conditions you can still catch a glimpse of the Atlantic.  It has three employees including full timer Laurel who’s been here seven or eight years and at another LOPL branch before that.  The aforementioned library assistant Ellen is part time as is page Barbara.

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Sally is on left, Barbara to the right

Their dedicated volunteers – Sally, one of three selfless souls who help out regularly, has been here for many years – really come in handy.

The miniature lighthouses and romantic seascapes at Circulation are among the nautical themed decorations scattered throughout the facility.  A dictionary stand and a little cart comprising the Book Nook sale sit by the desk, behind which lie the office and a large work area with plenty of shelves, a microwave and a mini fridge.    img_4852

On the right, the children’s wing had dangling snowflake mobiles and is outfitted with pint sized tables, upholstered seats and burnished wood furnishings.  Piles of primary hued cushions and baskets of stuffed animals await the tiniest and separate cases towards the entry display YA titles and graphic novels.

For teens, LOPL has YouTube DIY, coding instruction, robotic theory, knitting and crocheting and Anime club.  They can whip up some ice cream or discover a passion for electronics, solar energy or combustion engines.

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Youngsters attend puppet shows, musical storytimes, bingo, infant play dates, ballet lessons, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities, or build Lego stuff, construct masks for Fat Tuesday and mix up Harry Potter’s potions.  Home schoolers hang out together and on Noon Year’s Eve delighted tots get a balloon drop.

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LOPL lends passes for Zoo Atlanta, the state parks and the Go Fish Education Center – an aquarium and hatchery that has hunting and fishing simulators and a stocked pond to improve your skills.

The summer reading program is huge, and in conjunction with the city the library hosts the annual Savannah Children’s Book Festival.

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So if you’re small enough, plop down in this bright blue Adirondack chair – it’ll put you in the perfect mood to soak up some rays after you find a great beach read.

What an asset to this charming laid back town!

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