JERICHO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — September is not only the beginning of the school year, it’s also the month parents are reminded to sign their kids up for a library card.

But as CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported Wednesday, libraries now give you an experience you might not recognize.

They don’t just let you check out books. You check out experiences.

“I don’t think there is such a thing a typical library anymore,” said Barbara Barrett of the Jericho Public Library. “The concept of the library has changed so dramatically, it’s now a community center. We make a lot of people feel comfortable here.”

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Inside the Jericho Public Library on Long Island. (Photo: CBS2)

Over the past seven years libraries nationwide have seen a 30% increase in educational programs.

Laura Curran is the Nassau County executive, and September is “National Library Card Sign-Up” month.

“It’s incredibly important that libraries have evolved like the rest of the world has,” Curran said. “Technological advancements are happening everywhere and our local libraries are keeping pace.”

Libraries have shifted to become educational spaces serving the individualized needs of each community.

“You can borrow things like telescopes, guitars, board games, even a tie for a job interview,” Curran said. “You name it, they’ve got it at the library.”

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One of the ways places like the Jericho Public Library are evolving is transforming from just places for research into places to interact with one another, to make things, to be social, to not get shushed, Overmyer reported.

“Our children’s programs do not really include computers,” Barrett said. “It’s all interacting and hands on and steam and stem based and as I always like to say, as they’re learning, they’re really enjoying. They’re running through the door. There’s no such thing as walking anymore.”

A library without books once seemed unthinkable. Now, it’s inevitable. After all, the heart of the library isn’t the books, it’s the people.

If you’d like to find a library near you, please click here.

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