Hannibal Free Public Library patrons have more ways than ever to read their favorite books, with monthly book talks at the library joining the Big Library Read and its worldwide book discussion through the first half of April

Hannibal Free Public Library patrons have more ways than ever to read their favorite books, with monthly book talks at the library joining the Big Library Read and its worldwide book discussion through the first half of April.

Library Director Hallie Yundt Silver said the Hannibal Free Public Library offers various ways for Hannibal and Ralls County residents to access books and research materials with a free library card. Marion County residents who live outside of Hannibal's city limits can receive a card by paying a non-resident fee. She said the library has offered e-books since the mid-1990s. They partnered with the Big Library Read provider OverDrive in 2010, giving library patrons the opportunity to join in the Big Library Read global book club three times a year.

The April reading session and discussion centers around the book “Homes: A Refugee Story,” from April 1-15. The book details the struggles the al Rabeeah family faced after they left Iraq for Syria in search of a better life just before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

Abu Bakr was one of eight children in the family and 10 years old at the time.

“It brings such joy to Abu Bakr and me that his wish of wanting to tell the world of Syria’s plight is being fulfilled in such a far-reaching way,” said author Winnie Yeung. “For this is the magic of books: they don’t just feed our imaginations, they build bridges of understanding. The relationship of sharing, receiving and honoring each other is the true gift of storytelling —something I am so grateful to be a partner in.”

Yundt Silver said library staff members are ready to help patrons, whether they are looking to check out a hardback novel, seeking assistance with literature on their e-reader, mobile phone or other electronic device, or want to learn more about the Big Library Read and the library's regular book discussion groups each month.

“We encourage people to use the library, and part of the library is the downloadables that we offer,” she said.

Yundt Silver said she and many fellow book lovers enjoy the feeling of a traditional book in their hands, but she stressed the advantages of borrowing books through the Libby application for smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices. The application allows people on vacation to access the Hannibal Free Public Library's literature from anywhere, without the risk of losing a book or forgetting to return it.

“I think we all like holding a book in our hands — that's how we learn to read,” she said. “But the electronic delivery allows us to carry several books at a time, so they're lighter weight.”

Yundt Silver used to say “I would never use an electronic book,” but she began selecting e-books from one genre and became “quite attached” to the experience on her e-reader.

“I save those cozy mystery books for handheld reading,” she said. “But the paranormal romances, I read on my Nook.”

Hannibal Free Public Library readers can join in on the Big Library Read by visiting the library's website athannibal.lib.mo.us or by downloading the Libby application. For more information, visitbiglibraryread.com or call the Hannibal Free Public Library at 573-221-0222.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com