FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Military spouse Christina Barrington retreats to the Center Library when she needs a quiet area to study in pursuit of her master's degree.

After homework is done, she brings her young daughters to the facility to read children's books or participate in craft activities.

As National Library Week occurs April 11-17, she encourages other military Families to take advantage of the multitude of educational and entertainment opportunities found at the recently renovated library.

To observe the week, library staff hosts an open house April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bldg. 212 with refreshments and library trivia, according to Al Edwards, Center Library reference librarian.

The librarian recommends everyone visit the fresh, new facility to experience what he said can't be found anywhere else.

"You can get books online, but there's nothing like holding the real thing in your hands," he said. "That tactile experience - smelling the paper and turning the pages - is part of the gift of reading."

Libraries offer transient military Families access to some belongings they might miss temporarily during moves. Edwards advocates those awaiting their household entertainment collections check out movies and books. Online computer access is also available when personal computers might be stashed in moving vans. Popular magazine and newspaper subscriptions are also provided for those in between addresses.

In all, the library houses more than 55,000 books, 1,700 audio books, 900 music CDs, 2,300 DVDs, 200 video games and 22 computers with high-speed Internet, Edwards said.

The collection's diversity is what draws many Families on a regular basis, Barrington noted.

"The library is one of our greatest resources," she said. "Take advantage of the library. There are a lot of academic books (for me) and pictures books (for my children). They have a good variety. It also saves you money because you don't have to buy books and CDs."

For those who prefer hands-on experiences, the staff hosts various free teen and adult workshops on a frequent basis and monthly children's craft activities.

Distance learners can obtain free test proctoring, a great benefit for Soldiers obtaining online degrees, Edwards said.

He added he is proud to offer the military community so many services, saying the library's mission falls in line with the Army Family Covenant, which promises to take care of Soldiers and Families.

"We want to cover the Army Family Covenant for body, mind and spirit. There are recreational and physical activities for the body, and chaplain's services for the spirit. We have libraries for their minds," he said.

Library Technician Laurie Richardson agreed.

"We're able to help Families and Soldiers find things they're looking for," she said.

The library is open to the public, but government IDs are required to check out material. Facility hours are Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Call 255-3885 for more information.

Library hosts fun for all ages

Fort Rucker Center Library staff offers a multitude of free events for Families. Call 255-3885 for more information or registration.

Parents and their 3- to 5-year-olds gather for Story Time Fridays at 10:15 a.m.

Children's holiday- or event-themed craft activities are held most months. Call the library for updated schedules.

Aspiring novelists can attend the Writing Flash Fiction workshop April 20 and 23 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Teens and adults focus on what flash fiction is, how to write it and where to submit their work for publication.

A vegetable gardening workshop is conducted April 22 at 6 p.m. Participants learn what vegetables grow best in the warm southern climate and how to properly care for them throughout the summer.

Young minds grow during an EDGE! gardening project held every Tuesday this month from 4 to 6 p.m. Youth 11-18 design and build gardens near Lake Tholocco. To register, call 255-9638 or visit Parent Central Services in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 130.