I have to give credit to my wife for this column. Leonie suggested we take a trip to the Whitehorse Public Library, something I have to admit I would not have come up with.

As soon as she mentioned it, I fell in love with the idea. In short order we were standing at the desk and making the acquaintance of Jennifer Stephens.

Stephens started us off by explaining the sign-up process for a library card, which I promptly took advantage of. After completing the registration form and presenting her with a piece of identification, I was holding my new card in less than two minutes time.

With my new card I would be able to borrow up to 28 items at a time that include audio discs, DVD movies, video cassettes and (of course) books.

While my account was being created, I browsed the flyers on the desk and noted the three different weekly readings offered to children.

Toddler Storytime on Tuesdays and Baby Storytime on Wednesdays are both offered 10:30 to 11 a.m., while Preschool Storytime on Thursdays runs 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

With my newly minted card in hand, Stephens graciously offered to give us a tour of the library. We began with the children’s section.

Something Leonie and I were both impressed to see was the variety of books in French. Thinking back to my trips to the library in high school, I remember the entire French section fit into a single wall unit. The number of French books in the kids section alone would have filled half the shelving units of my memory.

Not only were there books, but also videos to browse through, a play area, a computer with several child-friendly games (headphones at the front desk on request) and a machine called “Whizunit”. David, Brace and Denali enjoyed playing with the computer, the Whizunit and looking through books and movies.

Stephens took us through each of the areas of the library and explained how things were organized. We looked in on the Internet-accessible computers, the meeting rooms, the growing DVD collection and vast VHS offerings and the languages sections. We also browsed current magazines and newspapers and explored the non-fiction and Yukon areas.

The array of media types and services available amazed me. I had not taken the time in the past to consider the value the library has to offer our community.

More so, I had never considered what a wonder it is to have everything provided free of charge to the public.

In case you missed it, I’ll say it again: Free of charge! As in no cost, no cash, no debit, no credit card, nothing at all. The only costs users may face are returning late items or a $10, refundable, deposit for non-Yukoners looking for a temporary library card. Even when there is a cost, it is easily covered or refundable.

Can it get any better? Yes!

The convenience factor in being able to reserve anything simply by phoning or emailing the front desk is incredible. Whether looking for a book, arranging for meeting space or looking to check personal email, the library makes this all possible.

The library is an incredible resource for those who are aware of what it has to offer.

When we finished our evening at the library, we left with an armful of books which my boys are still working on as I write this.

For anyone looking for a family outing or entertainment options, I encourage them to place their local community library in their Top-Ten list. With so many options in a one stop entertainment shop, the value is incredible.

For more information on libraries and the services they offer, go to www.community.gov.yk.ca/libraries.

PHOTO: RICK MASSIE massierick@hotmail.com