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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Local GR reading programs promote literacy, accessibility

GVL / Archives

Story Revision 12/13- The Grand Rapids Public Library Ride to Read Program was discontinued in October 2022 due to the “unprecedented demand for bus passes.” GRPL is reevaluating its funding model according to Katie Zychowski, GRPL’s Marketing and Communications Director.

There are a variety of programs in the Grand Rapids area to increase accessibility to free reading materials and literary resources for residents and community members. Some ways to access these materials include on-the-go reading programs like “Ride to Read” and inclusive programs within the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL).

Ride to Read offers Rapid bus users a free round-trip pass to the GRPL. The public can visit any of the GRPL’s locations and have free access to reading materials, use their computers or WiFi, attend community programs and borrow books, movies and music. To get a Ride to Read pass, a GRPL library card or ID should be shown at a GRPL service desk. The GRPL has eight locations in total, including the Main Library, the Madison Square Branch, the Ottawa Hills Branch, the Seymour Branch, the Van Belkum Branch, the West Leonard Branch, the West Side Branch and the Yankee Clipper Branch. 

Anyone can use the Ride to Read program. Users can scan the Ride to Read pass on any Rapid bus line and use the second ride on the pass to return to the library.

There are other ways to get involved with literary programs. In addition to Ride to Read, community members can donate books to the GRPL. Julie Beukema, Collections Services Supervisor at GRPL said there are many opportunities to give back and donate to the carious library locations.

“People are welcome to check out materials at the library for free, and we don’t charge any fines. If people want to donate books here, they’re welcome to add to the collections,” Beukema said. “We also have a few branches that have little, free libraries out front where people are welcome to take items from.”

Donating books to the GRPL is simple. Any interested individuals can bring materials they would like to donate to any of the seven GRPL locations for drop-off. Donations to some library locations are currently paused due to construction, according to Beukema.

“There’s not a lot to it. People can bring books to any of our branches, and they send them down to the main library,” Beukema said. “(The GRPL main location is) currently not taking donations because we’re having some elevator work done, so we will be taking donations again as of January (fifth).”

Many Grand Valley State University community members are appreciative of the resources provided by the campus library system as well as the local area libraries. Besides utilizing library resources for classes, many students on campus are interested in exploring reading outside of the classroom.

Alex Olmstead is a senior at GVSU studying secondary education and history. They are also the president of the GVSU Book Club. 

“I feel that it’s important for everyone to have access to literature because it helps us learn about ourselves and the world around us,” Olmstead said. “Writing has been around for millennia as a way for people to explain their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and it gives us opportunities to learn from people we otherwise never would have been able to.”

Olmstead believes it’s very important for people to utilize their local libraries, as they’re one of the few places where a person can gain knowledge, use computers, read books and more at no cost.  

“(Public libraries) have free classes and workshops, they have books in other languages for people who don’t speak English, they have large print and audiobooks for people who have visual impairments or dyslexia and they continue to expand their resources constantly,” Olmstead said. “I’ve always enjoyed reading and going to libraries, as I can find material on anything I want to research there.”

The GRPL values inclusion, collaboration, access, excellence, learning, sustainability and innovation. They have a vision to create an environment where people can come together to learn and be heard. 

Olmstead said using library resources has been very helpful to them as a student and as an avid reader.

“I feel like not a lot of people know that most libraries will absolutely order any media you may need (if it’s not already available) so that you can check it out with your library card. You can check out textbooks and independent study books from libraries, so long as you ask them to order it for you,” Olmstead said. “I’ve definitely used that (option) in the past, as I can’t always afford to buy books on every subject I may be interested in.”

GVL / Archives
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