Libraries are an important part of every community.
But before I tell you why, I just wanted to mention that this will be a two-part post (because I know that you love reading my voice) in honor of International Book Giving Day, which incidentally, falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day.
I’ll talk a little bit more about that in the second part but I will be talking even more about it on my twitter as the day gets nearer.
Whether you read 100 books a year or 10, you should recognize the importance of the public library. It is so important that libraries across the country, and around the world, stay open. American libraries provide so many services, but to name just a few:
- Free books! This is the big, obvious one. You can check out books whenever (most libraries let you take out 20+ books at a time!)
- Plus, if you download an app like Libby or Overdrive and enter in your county’s library, you can download e-books and audiobooks as well!
- The greatest thing about this is, if you hate a book, you don’t have to be mad that you wasted money on because guess what? It was free.
- Movies, magazines, music, video games, board games, reference books, study guides. The library actually has a looooot of things to borrow/use.
- And not just physical DVDs or CDs either! I’ve streamed a few movies using my library right from my laptop!
- Online databases. Database subscriptions are expensive, but at the library, you can access thousands and thousands of online resources, scholarly articles, peer-reviewed journals, and way more than a Google search would show you.
- I personally used this service for a research class I took last year and there were SO many sources that I didn’t even know were out there.
- LIBRARIANS! They are like an in-person database. They’re not just there to check out your books, they are so, so helpful and are there to help you!
- Many libraries have a Book-a-Librarian service, where actual people will sit with you, teach you how to use tech programs like Word or Excel, or help you find a book that fits your interests or mood!
- Free computer or tablet use and internet access.
- Even though I have my own laptop, it doesn’t have a DVD drive. When I needed to use the DVD in one of my textbooks, I went to the library, popped it in one of their computers, and did my homework.
- This includes, printing, scanning, copying, faxing, and more.
- Voter registration! You heard it here folks, your library could help you register or point you in the right direction of your nearest polling place.
- It may also have a wide variety of government forms that you may not be able to find, like legal documents or tax forms.
- Classes and lectures in an immeasurable number of topics. Cooking, budgeting, tech support, writing, tutoring, college prep, the list could go on FOREVER.
- Meeting spaces for groups in the community to assemble – how many indoor spaces can you name that you can go without the expectation of spending money (Starbucks, and even Barnes and Noble are out on this one).
- This includes author meetups! I’ve been to plenty of author events held at libraries (including a couple at YALLFest!
- Plus book clubs, bingo night, movie night, yoga groups, anime club, poetry slams, writer group’s, art galleries (my library has one of these and it is so pretty AND free).
- At some libraries, you can rent cooking appliances, sports equipment and science equipment, gardening and lawn care tools,
- Some libraries (I just learned about this) have a rewards system. The more books you check out, the more points you get on an app, which translates into coupons for local businesses in your community!
- I don’t know a whole lot about it but you can check if your area participates here!
- Services for Americans with disabilities, like braille options or large print text novels that may be otherwise difficult to find/more expensive to purchase.
- A quiet space. Maybe you just need to be alone for a bit with your thoughts and your house is full of siblings and parents, and it’s ten degrees outside and you don’t want to spend money. The library is the perfect place.
- I like to use the library to study. Sometimes studying in my room for days on end feels like a prison, and a change of scenery is great!
I could (and would love) to go on for hours about why libraries are such important touchstones to our community. This list is far from complete and not every library in the country offers all of these options. Still, it highlights just some of the many, many things our libraries have to offer. There are also a wide variety of services offered for just a small fee!
I decided to write this post to make more people aware of what truly magical places libraries are, and how lucky America (and other western nations) are to have such an abundance of them.
I spent most of my life living in a developing country that had few libraries. What public libraries it did have were stocked with either picture books or nonfiction adult books, and even those were in short supply. Now, living in the U.S, I have a deep appreciation for public libraries.
I’m privileged enough that I can afford to buy books from an indie bookstore, B&N, or Amazon. But not everyone is, and money shouldn’t keep people from reading.
In the book community, we can be very fixated on buying every book and owning a collection. And that’s awesome! You can spend your money on whatever you like, and I definitely still purchase books.
But it’s also important to recognize that government funding keeps libraries open. If the government doesn’t believe they’re being used enough, then funding will decrease, as will library services. Maybe you can afford to read any book you can without a library. But not everyone has that luxury.
How many things in life are free? This is. So recognize, appreciate, and use that to make your community a better, more inclusive place. If you really love reading, don’t you want everyone to have access to it?
Originally, I was just going to have one post about libraries, but I got way too chatty, so I decided to split it into two! Next week, look out for me listing some ways you can show support to your local library because hopefully, I’ve convinced you of how important it is.
One last thing. Not sure if your library provides some of the services I listed above? Easy solution: ask a librarian.
That’s it for this one, folks! Do you visit your local library often? Do you wish you visited it more? Did you know it might offer all of these services? Are any of them your favorites? Any that I’m missing that you want to scream to the heavens about? Tell me in the comments! 🙂