Ashely Thomas and her son
Armand Early, 5, look at books while waiting to use a computer at the library. (Staff Photos: Heather Middleton)
JONESBORO — A library card is for more than just checking out books these days.
A Clayton County issued PINES card will give visitors access to thousands of documents via a program like Galileo or learning a new language with Mango.
“We offer so much, even for nonreaders,” said Sherry Turner, Jonesboro Library branch manager. “We’re an information clearing house.”
Patrons have free access to several computers in all six branches of the Clayton County Library System, free classes and programs on various topics.
“A library card is the best bargain in town,” Turner said.
Jonesboro resident Ashley Thomas was visiting the library waiting for a turn on the computers. She was there with her son Armand Early, 5.
“We like to read different books while waiting,” Thomas said. She and her family visit at least once a week.
The library system classes cover things like stain glass, cake decorating and computer classes. They also provide 150 different practice exams for things like GED, ASVAB, ACT, SAT and civil service.
“We can help with education and job placement, too,” Turner said.
For students 1st grade through college live tutors are available through the Homework Helpers program.
Turner also offers proctoring services for test takers.
“I proxy about 400 exams per year,” she said. “This is a free service here — to go anywhere else it can cost around $50.”
Turner said the library system tries to respond to whatever needs are in the community.
For example, she said, “We have programs about how to start a business or things like understanding Medicare and Medicaid.”
Turner said she “keeps an ear peeled to patrons requests.”
Obtaining a library card is free. There’s no age limit either.
“Mothers could come right from the hospital and sign their baby up,” Turner said.
To get a card, residents must show proof of residency. Turner said it could be anything from a piece of mail, check book, rent receipt or photo ID.
A short application must be filled out and the library card will be made while visitors wait.
Turner said the biggest reason most people don’t get a library card is because of personal information.
“We want people to know any data gathered is protected by privacy laws and goes no further than the library system,” Turner said.
Cards can be obtained at any branch in Clayton County.
In addition to gaining access to everything the libraries in the county offer, Clayton is a member of the PINES program.
“PINES creates a statewide ‘borderless library’ that provides equal access to information for all Georgians. Georgians with a PINES library card have access to materials beyond what is available on their local shelves and enjoy the benefits of a shared collection of 9.6 million books and other materials that can be delivered to their home library free of charge,” according to www.georgialibraries.org.
“It’s very unlikely someone won’t be able to find what they’re looking for,” said Elizabeth McKinstry, library assistant.
McKinstry said it’s a great program for communities with small libraries and rural communities.
“PINES is only going to keep getting better,” she said.
Turner encourages people to visit their local library and take advantage of what they have to offer.
“We have something for everyone,” she said.
To see more of what the Clayton County Library system offers, visit www.claytonpl.org. A calendar is posted with a list of classes and programs going on in each library. Visitors can also print off a library card application and fill it out prior to coming to the library.