The 2018 Mid-Continent Public Library isn’t your grandparents’ library – the one they visited to check out a book or possibly do a little research on their family’s history.

No, the Mid-Continent Public Library is so much more – just ask anyone who attended Saturday’s How-To Fair at the Blue Ridge Branch in Kansas City.

Need to learn how to tie a tie for that big job interview? The library has you covered. You can even rent a tie at the special “Tiebrary” stand.

Everything from how to create balloon animals and custom-made jewelry to information on how to prepare a durable power of attorney to changing the spark plugs in your lawnmower were covered at the event that drew such a big crowd that an alternate parking lot had to be provided.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Geri Haile, an employee at the Blue Ridge branch library. “We love checking out books – and movies and CDs and books on tape – but the great thing about an event like this is that you can find out how many other things we offer, too.”

As Haile talked about the updated library that can take patrons to unimagined worlds, a group of young people were watching a presentation on the danger of opioids, while a group of more seasoned library goers were getting a hands-on look at how to use the computer system at the library to “Find Your Next Great Read.”

“It’s such a beautiful day, and these folks could be home working in their yard or just enjoying the weather, and we are so happy they chose to come take part in our How-To Fair,” said Mary Altman, the Mid-Continent Public Library director of marketing and communications. “We’re not just a building with books on its shelves, we offer something for everyone.”

Every year, 3.9 million people visited the 31 libraries located in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties. That total would fill Kauffman Stadium to standing-room-only capacity a staggering 97 times.

And events like the How-To Fair only encourage more individuals to visit their local library to find the latest John Grisham novel, or a way to help their child with their homework, Altman said.

The list of items and subjects the library offers is diverse:

• Live homework help is available seven days a week for students in grades K-12, from noon to midnight, at tutor.com or mymcpl.org/homework.

• Most business questions can be answered at mymcpl.org/squareone. Square One Small Business Service supports everyone from students to entrepreneurs in many ways. Whether you are a student who has a question about a business class or an individual who is thinking about starting or expanding a business, this site can help.

• The Midwest Genealogy Center, at 3440 S. Lee’s Summit Road, Independence, is the largest free-standing genealogy library in the country, and is free to its users. It offers more than 750,000 on-site resources to help you begin your search into your family’s history.

• Lynda.com offers classes on business, software, technology and creative skills to help everyone from students to business professionals.

“What I want to stress is that all of these classes are free – you just have to be aware of them, and use them,” Altman said. “Business development, computer classes, checking out classic movies, film series or CDs of your favorite music – we offer all of this through our libraries.”

And don’t forget about that crisp new tie for an important job interview because that service is offered, too.