Today is the last day of National Library Week. I’ve been working in libraries for nearly 18 years, and before that, I was (and still am!) a frequent patron. Libraries have always been important to me, so today, I’m sharing five reasons why I love them.
Libraries Provide Shelter
Libraries are one of the few public spaces where a person can spend several hours indoors without spending any money. This shelter is invaluable for unhoused people, especially in extreme weather, because libraries offer air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Housed patrons might need the library when their A/C quits or they can’t afford their heating bill. When we think about libraries, we often think about the books and other items they circulate, but the building is vital for much more than just holding the collection.
Libraries Provide Equity
If you make $20,000 a year, you can visit a library and check out as much as they let you. You can do the same thing if you make $120,000 a year. The library has something to offer you regardless of your income, beliefs, or interests. For those who are physically unable to visit the library in person, you can download books, audiobooks, and other forms of media online. One of my local libraries has been working on expanding its world language section so patrons who don’t speak English can still come to the library and leave with a book in their native tongue. Many organizations are becoming fine-free so more patrons have access to materials. Libraries should be for everyone and provide equitable opportunities for people to explore and learn.
Libraries Have Something for All Ages
Another reason I love libraries is that they’re intergenerational. Babies and toddlers are welcome at my local branch’s Baby Lapsit Storytime, while retirees can attend midday book clubs or volunteer. There are programs for kids, teens, and young adults. Specialty programs are often offered to homeschoolers, gardeners, gamers, bakers, and writers. The public library where I worked for several years hosted chess tournaments, LEGO play nights, free tax help, and yoga classes. Whether a person is just learning to read or has been reading for decades, libraries offer programs and materials for people in every phase of life.
Libraries Provide More than Books
Libraries would still be amazing if they only stocked books, but modern libraries offer much more. In addition to DVDs and magazines, my local library districts allow people to check out:
- Podcast equipment
- Museum and park passes
- Book club kits
- Preschool learning kits
- Instant Pots
- Blood pressure kits
- Tools to digitize photos, cassette tapes, and VHS tapes
- Video and digital cameras
- Sewing machines
I’ve heard of other libraries checking out prom dresses, interview clothing, and cake pans. My university library has support dogs come visit during finals week for stressed students. Isn’t that incredible? I’ve loved watching libraries evolve and am excited to see what they’ll offer next.
Libraries Provide Books, Too
Yes, libraries still have books. The books are why I go to libraries as often as I do (that, and to earn my paychecks). I’ve discovered countless books through the years, thanks to public libraries. I still get excited to walk inside with my tote bag where I’ll place anything that looks interesting, the same thing I did as a little kid. If a person wants a classic novel, the library will have it. If you want a book that’s out of print, a librarian can use the magical powers of the interlibrary loan system to find a copy. From board books to the latest bestseller, libraries have kept communities informed, entertained, and well-read for as long as they’ve been around. I couldn’t be more grateful for the books I’ve found on library shelves.
It’s Your Turn to Share
Because of book bans and threats against library staff happening in the United States right now, libraries and their employees need your support more than ever. National Library Week is coming to a close, but please consider sharing some library love over the next few days. Write a note to your favorite library staffer. If you’re a parent, let your child’s principal know how much you appreciate the school library and what it offers your kids. Share this post and include reasons why you love libraries. Tag your local libraries on social media and tell your followers why they’re so great. There are many ways to express your appreciation for libraries, so pick one and give library workers the boost they need right now.
I’m off to finish that library eBook that expires in two days.