Public libraries aren't like they were when I was growing up. I remember my class taking weekly field trips to the local public library to check out a new book to read, and return the book from the previous week. As I grew older, I would go to research my school projects. But that was the extent of what you could do at the library. Times have changed. If you haven't been to one of the Abilene Public Libraries in a while, you may be surprised.

Sure, you can still take the kids to story time and other educational activities at the library. I believe libraries will always primarily be a place for school-age children to further their education. But now, public libraries across the country - and right here in Abilene - are equipped with internet access, popular and historical music, movies, downloadable books for your Kindle, and much more. Adults, too, can gain a lot from a visit to the library.

In short, public libraries have changed with the times, and staying up to date and relevant can be costly. And there's a quick and easy way you can help.

The Friends of the Abilene Public Library are always accepting new members. When you sign up, you are showing your support for the three local public libraries in Abilene, and helping them continue to update and improve the facilities and staff.

There are several levels of personal membership, costing as little as a dollar for a "Kid Friend" annual membership, for children ages 1-18. Individuals can become a member for $15 a year, and the "Family Friend" membership is $25 a year. Other personal memberships include "Caring Friend" for $50, "Generous Friend" for $100, and "Lifetime Friend" for $500.

Business memberships to Friends of the Abilene Public Library are also available, with costs ranging from $50 to $200 annually.

This past weekend at the 23rd annual Friends of the Abilene Public Library Book Sale raised $53,165.00. A year ago, the event brought in a little over $51,000.00. The funds are used toward purchasing library materials, equipment, activities and staff training opportunities. While $50,000+ is great, keeping up with technology and information costs more. Becoming a Friend of the Abilene Public Library is a great way to help out a local cause that can have an effect on present and future generations.

And remember, library cards are still free.

When is the last time you went to the library?

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