Library, Redefined


If you haven’t yet visited the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, you might not consider a visit to the library to be an occasion. You may associate library visits with the standard image of dusty textbooks, a quiet atmosphere—and perhaps not much more.

On the other hand, if you have stepped through the doors of Coeur d’Alene’s impressive two-story downtown public library, odds are you’ve found yourself immediately immersed in much more than searching for books. With your first step into the building, you take in its high ceilings, spacious aisles and the appearance of never-ending nooks and hallways, and it becomes clear that a lot more than reading happens in the building.

The library prides itself on being a core component of the local Coeur d’Alene community. According to a statement of the library’s history compiled by its dedicated staff, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library exists because of community support. It was born out of a need recognized by a local club and built from contributions of the citizens of the city.

The first Coeur d’Alene Public Library opened its doors in 1905, in the store of E.B. Keller and Company, located two doors east of the intersection of Fourth Street and Sherman Avenue. The store owners donated three shelves, and the library had limited hours of operation: from 2 to 4pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

In its current location on Front Avenue, which opened to the public in 2007, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library is now open seven days a week.

The library is a fully integrated partner of the Cooperative Information Network. CIN patrons can access their accounts online to place holds on items and to request materials be delivered to their home library from other CIN libraries. The consortium of North Idaho and Eastern Washington libraries shares an impressive catalog of nearly 500,000 items.

Now boasting significantly more than three shelves, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library has two floors, an ever-growing list of available resources, and a beautiful space where events and community gatherings occur on just about every day of the week.

With a glance at the library’s monthly calendar of events, you’ll catch a glimpse of event titles like LEGO Club, Learn Japanese, Teen D&D and Saturday with the Symphony, where children were able to get up close and personal with musicians from the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra. With the calendar’s happenings color-coded by age, you can tell right away that the library is a place that people of all ages can genuinely enjoy.

Youths and teenagers alike gather at the library throughout each day of the week, not only to read and study but for experiences like themed storytime sessions, club meetings and teen movie nights. The thought and care the library takes to make each experience special is immediately clear. They host themed events like Pajama Week and Forest Friends Story Time, encouraging young children to connect to the natural world.

No age group is excluded from the library’s event calendar. Adults can participate in seminars sponsored by community partners, such as a free Homebuying 101 workshop with STCU, where home ownership tips and a free meal are provided.

Some events even extend into the downtown community, such as the Literary Trivia Night, which held its first round January 21 at the Crown and Thistle. The trivia competition is based in teams of four, with the opportunity to win prizes and enjoy food and beverages. The Crown and Thistle donated back a percentage of food and beverage purchases from the evening to the Library Foundation.

Musicians can find each other at the library at the North Roots Music Jam, a circle-style jam session that features folk, Celtic and Scandinavian-style music. Held in the library’s Community Room on the last Tuesday of each month, the jam sessions are open to participants and listeners alike. Participants bring their own instruments and music to share and are free to provide music suggestions for others to lead.

In addition to their unique events, the library provides an extensive list of resources to the community that allow reading, information and technology to be increasingly accessible.

With your library account, you can easily access and download ebooks for two weeks at a time. For those who prefer to travel lighter, the downloads provide the benefit of a good read without the need to carry around any extra bulk.

Members are welcome to use the provided computer services like internet access on 40 filtered internet workstations equipped with high-speed internet and Microsoft Office programs, along with printing, scanning and research tools. Additional unique services provided by the library include free 3D printing, access to public meeting spaces and the ability to “Book a Librarian” to get your technical questions answered in a one-on-one session.

The library provides a modern, convenient way to access books, movies and shows through their entertainment rentals. Patrons can check out a Kindle or a Roku streaming product loaded with movies, Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu. Library patrons can even take home a wireless hotspot for the ability to access the internet from anywhere that T-Mobile provides service: at home, at work, even on the road.

Those who set a New Year’s resolution to dive into more reading with the start of the new year can reach their goal with the adult Reading Challenge that runs through May 31.

The goal of the challenge is to motivate readers to break out of their usual reading routine; to explore different genres and read 10 “new-to-you” books in the new year. Audiobooks and ebooks are included! Readers can track their efforts on the back of a 2020 Reading Challenge bookmark provided by the library. They can then return their completed bookmarks for a finisher button and an entrance into the prize drawing.

Teens can contribute to their own New Year’s reading goals with Winter Reading Bingo. Now through February 29, teens can participate in the Bingo game with cards provided by the library. They can win books along the way, and a completed Bingo card grants them entry into a raffle drawing for a Kindle Tablet.

At any time throughout the year, visitors can join the Pageturners Book Club, a volunteer-run adult program that meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month in the library’s Community Room. Its intention is to provide the setting for scholarly discussions on the appointed book of the month, which is selected by a book club committee and is drawn from a wide variety of both fiction and nonfiction.

Beyond its clubs and services, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library has further extended its reach to become even more accessible, with a branch library at Lake City High School. The branch stays open for students after school hours and includes many of the same features as its home base, including electronic rentals and the ability for students to pick up books on hold. The library hopes to open an additional branch in the new Northwest Expedition Academy, set to open in September.

Opportunities to dive into new corners of literature and share the joy of reading with others are in no shortage for patrons of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library—they certainly make sure of that.

The library has two organized support groups who gratefully accept donations from the community to be contributed to various projects and programs. To donate to the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, sign up to volunteer or access a full list of services and events, visit their website at CdALibrary.org.

It can be easy to fall into some of the stereotypes associated with libraries, but a visit to the Coeur d’Alene Public Library and they all fall away. When you’re welcomed with community, opportunities to learn and the resources to grow, “library” takes on a whole new definition.

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