Making a New Year’s Resolution to Read More? Area Libraries Can Help in a Variety of Ways

| December 31, 2018

VENANGO COUNTY, Pa. (EYT) – As 2018 winds down and 2019 starts, many people make plans for the new year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

(Photo of Oil City Library. Courtesy of Rob Sampsell Photography.)

One of those resolutions people sometimes make is to read more in the upcoming year.

And local libraries are a great place to help fulfill that resolution while also helping people decide what they might want to read.

“In the library, we have a couple of different sources to help people choose what they want to read,” Debra Houser, who works at the front desk of the Franklin Public Library, said. “We have printed material for reading suggestions, and on our website ( there are links that can help people decide what they want to read.”

Houser and Brenda Bikert, the Assistant Director of the Knox Public Library, both pointed to a couple of helpful online websites that can assist people to choose what to read.

“There are links like Goodreads ( and Bookshout (,” Houser said.

“We use the Goodreads website,” Bikert said. “If you know something you like (a category, author, topic, etc) it can give you recommendations. The OverDrive ebook platform will also suggest things. You can browse through by subject.”

People can also go the old-fashion route and ask the library workers.

“We have people who have worked at the library for decades,” Janice Shields, a regular staff member at the Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library in Brookville, said. “We are very familiar with the books we have. Any of our staff can help.”

Mike Webber, a library assistant at the Oil City Library, said the library has in-library resources to help people.

“We can always do a search of the online catalog by subject or author,” Webber said. “We can narrow it down that way. Also, if you know the title, we can look that up to see if it is in our system. In addition, we have standup card catalogs, and patrons can do (the search) themselves). If people come in and give us a few basics about themselves and their interests, we can fix them up really fast.”

Many of the local libraries also have dedicated sections for new and/or popular books.

“We have a special place where any books cataloged as new go on a certain display rack and are displayed for five or six months,” Bickert from the Knox Library said. “Sometimes those are best-sellers, sometimes they are newer books that we receive. We have some patrons that look right at the rack and only at that rack.”

Franklin and Oil City both have a seven-day shelf were popular authors with brand new books can be borrowed for seven days instead of the standard two weeks.

“We have seven-day, 14-day and new non-fiction books next to the front desk,” Webber from the Oil City Library said.

In Brookville, any books bought in the last two years are kept by the front desk but can be borrowed for the same amount of time as any other book, according to Shields.

“We also have postings of best-sellers fiction and non-fiction at the front desk,” Shields said. “That list has an indication of whether we have it or not. We have most of them. If the book is currently borrowed, you can put your name on a waiting list for when it is returned.”

If a particular book isn’t stocked at a library, the library staff can help find it.

“We first look in the county at the other county libraries,” Knox’s Bickert said. “If they have it, the person can go to that library and use their Knox Library card or we can also get it for them. If the other county libraries don’t have the book, we can also look at libraries in Pennsylvania and the entire United States.”

Libraries aren’t just about traditional paperback and hardcover books anymore.

“We have CDs, DVDs, newspapers, large-print books in all categories,” Oil City’s Weber said.

OverDrive, which can be accessed on various local library websites or at, is available to many local patrons with their library card number used to sign up for the service and has many digital books on it that can be borrowed for e-readers. The platform also has a virtual librarian app called “Libby” to help patrons keep track of their borrowed books.

Hoopla, an online free multimedia platform similar to some things available on pay sites like Amazon Prime, is another resource available to people living in Clarion County.

“Hoopla is starting to become more popular,” Bikert of the Knox Library said. “We have been surprised to find that people aren’t using it for the movies and TV shows but are using it more for the audiobooks and ebooks. It is starting to pick up, though, and, hopefully, more people are using it.”

In Brookville, Shields says the library can even provide readers for people to view ebooks on.

“We have devices that books can be downloaded on and people can borrow,” Shields said.

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