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How Pennsylvania libraries can help relieve some of the sting of inflation

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

The library is more than just books.

With inflation at a four-decade high and many households looking to cut down their budgets, local libraries want to remind people in the Lehigh Valley they can help.

“At a time when budgets might be a little bit tight, there are other resources that you can still keep programming available without spending a lot of money,” said Maria Sterner, circulation assistant at the Emmaus Public Library.

In recent years, many public libraries have made more content like ebooks, magazines, audiobooks, and videos available from anywhere through applications like Libby and Hoopla.

“I think it’s specifically great for families because there’s tons of children’s programming on all of these platforms,” Sterner said. “And you can access that at no cost.”

Throughout the pandemic, staffers at the Emmaus library said a lot of people turned to these platforms.

“We definitely noticed an increase in our e-resources,” said Maryellen Kanarr, Emmaus Public Library director. “People who were perhaps hesitant to try e-books, out of desperation, perhaps they did, and they found they liked it.”

At the Allentown and Emmaus public libraries, people can be seen reading, working on their own devices, or using the computers for tasks like filling out job applications.

“It’s very important to the area,” said John Pearson, an Allentown Public Library patron.

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Philip Holderith, a research librarian at the Allentown Public Library, said it’s an honor to help the community get the resources they need.

“The point of this library is to make sure that people have access to resources and services at low, low- to no-cost,” Holderith said. “I’m glad to explain things as long as people are willing to listen and learn how to use the different services here.”

Others, of course, still come for what libraries do best.

Nancy Richie says she has come to the Allentown library every two weeks for years — and there are no worries about inflation there.

“The books are free and free is good,” Richie said.

Read more from our partners, WLVR.