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Have you been to the Musser Public Library lately? If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out. The library, located at 304 Iowa Ave. in downtown Muscatine, has taken the image of libraries as stuffy old buildings filled with dusty old books and turned it on its head. In fact, the library has turned itself into a real family destination place in Muscatine, thanks in large part to children’s librarian Betty Collins.

In the past few months the library has put on a number of events that have entertained and educated children of all ages. In July they had a program that featured a 250-pound alligator named Bubba. Yes, Bubba was real and going by the reaction, the crowd enjoyed getting a good look at Bubba.

Right now the library is featuring the traveling exhibit "Playing Together: Games." The exhibit, which was at the Children’s Museum of Memphis before it came to town, was crowned one of Memphis’s most popular exhibits ever. It features a lot of fun and interactive displays including a giant chess board, 17 games with unique set-ups, and also a house of cards room with more games. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, pack up the kids or grand-kids and bring them down to the library.

The library isn’t just focused on children. It is also doing a lot to keep up with technology too. Recently the library introduced Freegal, a free and legal music-downloading service that allows people to digitally download and own up to three songs each week. Music can be downloaded to a computer, tablet or smart phone, and all it takes is a library card. Get a library card, enjoy free music. It is that simple. In the past year, the library has also launched a free magazine subscription app, Zinio, that allows you to read your favorite magazine online without you having to buy the subscription. In the past if you wanted to check out a magazine, which you can still do by the way, you had to hope that no one else had it checked out. Now everyone can read the issue they want, when they want to read it. You can also check out e-books and even e-book readers, like a Kindle at the library. But don’t worry — the library still has plenty of old-fashioned books too.

These are just a few of the things that the library is up to. They also help job seekers improve their resumes and search for jobs. They are prepared to help people wade through the options for health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act that will soon be kicking off. I could go on for days listing all of the things the library does for the community.

Under the leadership of Library Director Pam Collins and Assistant Director Bobby Fiedler, the library has been quick to innovate, upgrade and improve on what was already an impressive institution for a community our size. I’ve lived in a number of communities big and small and there are many cities much larger than Muscatine that could only dream of having a library as rich as the one we have here in Muscatine. That’s a testament to its leadership, its supporters like The Friends of the Library and its volunteer board.

If you go to the library regularly, make sure you take a moment to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication. If you haven’t been to the library recently, take a moment to check it out. With the new game exhibit, now would be the perfect time to go. The library is just one more example that you can always find something fun to do in Muscatine.

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Steve Jameson is the editor and publisher of the Muscatine Journal.

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