More than just books

Paige Anderson

Few four-letter words resonate in the ears of a broke college student more than the term “free.”

At the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library the term free is almost as significant as the books that line the shelves.

Marie Pyko, public service manager at the TSCPL, said the library was built upon two things: the idea that people need to have access to information and research, and a commitment to the community to provide citizens with knowledge and education.

“The least we can do as a community is to build and enhance learning in all walks of life,” said Pyko.

For college students with less than abundant bank accounts, the TSCPL offers various free programs and services for members including film series, author visits, musical performances and gallery show openings.

Recently, a job and career neighborhood section in the library was opened. The neighborhood features kits filled with books on specific careers, two computers set aside for job-related activities as well as resources on how to write resumes and cover letters.

This program is designed to help library visitors learn additional information about possible career paths as well as receive guidance with free career planning.

In addition to the thousands of fiction and non-fiction books available to checkout, members can also borrow up to six DVDs for 21 days at a time. DVDs available range from documentaries to new release blockbusters.

Pyko said she believes the biggest attraction for borrowing movies is convenience. 

“We are really not that far from them [students], and on a nice day it’s even within walking distance,” said Pyko.

Jane Billinger, sophomore, uses the TSCPL on a regular basis as a way to save money.

“It’s free to sign up for a membership and borrowing movies is free. They don’t charge a rental fee like Blockbuster or Family Video do,” said Billinger.

In addition to the popularity of renting movies, students are also using the TSCPL as a place to study and work on projects. Pyko said the TSCPL is set up with several study rooms near the research areas where students working on group projects can gather and talk.

“On a daily basis we have about 10 to 20 college students here doing homework or research,” said Pyko.

Billinger said she believes that other college students should take full advantage of what’s being offered at the library.

“The public library is great because it has a large selection of books, movies, CDs as well as having a really great study atmosphere,” said Billinger.