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By Breeana Greenberg

The Dana Point Public Library offers much more than just books to check out.

As Branch Manager Laura Blasingham noted during a Coffee Chat on Friday, March 18, there’s a wealth of virtual and physical content for visitors to enjoy, as well as programs and services that many may not know about.

The library offers book groups, author lectures, writers’ groups and foreign film events, geared toward the Dana Point Community’s interests. The foreign film screenings are a community favorite, Blasingham said.

“We try to tailor our programs to the interests of the community,” Blasingham said. “And you know what, Dana Point, they love those foreign films. So, we offer foreign film screenings once a month and people love them.”

The next upcoming foreign film event will be held on April 2. The library will be screening the film They Say Nothing Stays the Same.

The book groups for readers cater to all ages. Beginning April 23, the library will host a Harry Potter Book Club and Craft for kids, teens and adults to discuss the Harry Potter series, beginning with the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Through the Author Talk series, library visitors can attend a lecture and book signing with authors. Randi Biederman, one of the authors of Schindler’s Listed: The Search for My Father’s Lost Gold, will be the next speaker in the Author Talk series on April 16.

For those interested in starting their own book groups, the library offers discussion kits with 10 books of the same title to pass out to the members of the group.

The library has a program to recommend books based on your interests. After completing a questionnaire, the RITA Recommends program offers a hand-tailored list of five book recommendations.

As for fines for overdue books, the library no longer charges those, Blasingham said, explaining that the fines were determined to be a “barrier of service.”

“You would have, particularly kids … check out books, and then they would be late in returning them,” Blasingham said. “We’d get the books back but, in the meantime, they’ve racked up overdue finds. So, parents didn’t want to pay or couldn’t pay, so they wouldn’t bring the kids back.

“Well, now that we’ve stopped charging overdue fines, yes, we still expect them to return the items, but we don’t charge them late fees,” she continued. “We have seen a lot of kids and families come back to the library to use it.”

The Friends of the Library bookstore is the only bookstore in Dana Point, Blasingham said. Funds from the bookstore benefit the library.

The Dana Point Library offers Storytime twice a week for young kids. “Toddler Storytime” is on Tuesdays and “Kindergarten Readiness” is on Wednesdays.

The Orange County Public Libraries run a yearlong reading challenge to read 100 books before 2023. The library’s reading challenges are open for all ages and aim to help build the habit of reading regularly.

The Orange County Public Libraries are running the Spring into Reading Challenge through April 30. The library will also run a Summer Reading Challenge from June to July. The theme for the summer reading challenge has not yet been announced.

In addition to checking out books, magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, board games and Chromebook laptops, the library offers Wi-Fi, Microsoft Office, and AWE Stations. Two AWE Stations were purchased by the Friends of the Library, which contain educational math, science, reading, writing, and art programs in both Spanish and English for kids 2-8 years old.

The library has a virtual collection of content that can be checked out similarly to how one might check out a book or DVD at the library. The e-library offers e-books, e-magazines, audiobooks, Gale Courses, language learning, job seeker resources, archived newspapers and magazines, and online high school.

The library also offers virtual events, virtual Storytime, how-to videos, virtual book groups, teen gaming, fun activities, health and wellness, and crafts.

The online library has also added a collection of photos, videos and documents in the OC Stories collection. Within this collection is a series of interviews with Orange County Surf Legends titled OC Surf Stories.

For those with old photos and VHS tapes, the Orange County Public Libraries offer the OC Memory lab where visitors can bring in items to digitize for free.

To learn more about the library’s upcoming events, visit the Orange County Public Libraries website.

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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