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I encourage any and all kinds of reading and yes, listening to audiobooks definitely counts.

PMG FILE PHOTO - April Witteveen, Crook County Library DirectorIt's not surprising that I love to start a conversation with someone about what they are reading. Despite being a librarian, surrounded by books for 40 hours a week, I don't get to do much leisure reading (parents of young children, I know you can relate). Chatting about books with friends, family and library visitors is a great way to build my "to be read" list, which grows exponentially each year.

From time to time, someone will defer as I strike up this conversation, saying, "Oh, I don't really read." More likely than not, they'll go on to say they enjoy the daily newspaper or catch up on "People" magazine while in the doctor's waiting room. I also chat with people who say, "Well, I listen to audiobooks, but that doesn't really count, does it?" Often these admissions come with a bashful look, afraid that the librarian will judge them for doing something other than picking up a classic tome.

In these moments, I encourage any and all kinds of reading and yes, listening to audiobooks definitely counts. As a matter of fact, audiobooks are an excellent choice for getting a story into your brain. I have vivid dreams about books I listen to, which rarely happens with books I read in print. A study conducted by the"Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior"found that our brains are more likely to create meaningful imagery when we listen to a story. This is one reason why libraries promote our summer reading programs so strongly with families -- your little ones may not be reading on their own just yet, but the power of listening to a loved one read a book is undeniable, both scientifically and emotionally.

This summer the library celebrates our one-year anniversary of providing content with the streaming service, Hoopla. Crook County Library patrons have checked out more than 1,000 audiobooks through this service alone. We also see very strong usage of our other eBook/eAudio platform, Libby. Summer is a great time to explore electronic content, since you can download an item and take it with you on a train, plane, automobile or even a bicycle.

Enjoy your newspapers and magazines! Reading short-form pieces "count" just as much as spending time with an epic hardcover. Read comics and graphic novels, which boost visual literacy as well as encourage reading among those who feel "regular" books don't do much for them. This summer, you have many opportunities to connect with other book lovers at the library as we continue with our summer reading program. We have an incredible slate of special events for all ages in the month of July, so come see us to sign up for summer reading, learn about Hoopla and Libby and share your book recommendations. Let's celebrate all kinds of reading!

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