Lives Change @ Your Library

Today’s post is taken from this year’s National Library Week theme.  National Library week runs April 13-19 and is sponsored by the American Library Association.  In fact, ALA’s official statement on this year’s theme is:

Libraries and librarians have a powerful and positive impact on the lives of Americans on a daily basis. Their stories are key to communicating the value of libraries. National Library Week is the perfect opportunity to encourage your community to tell the story of how the library has changed their life. (source)

So just how can libraries change lives?  There are so many ways!

"Event: Santa Teresa Branch Library Halloween theme Preschool Storytime" from the San Jose Library via Flickr Creative Commons

“Event: Santa Teresa Branch Library Halloween theme Preschool Storytime” from the San Jose Library via Flickr Creative Commons

In one historic case, presented in the book Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, we see how one Hispanic boy was encouraged to visit the library by his grandfather.  Once there, the local librarian provides him specialized attention, providing books and helping him read.  And this boy, Tomás Rivera, goes on to college and to become a writer, educator, and chancellor of the University of California at Riverside.

Also presented in a book, Library Lil by Suzanne Williams, is the fictionalized story of the librarian Library Lil.  When a storm causes her TV loving town to lose electricity for two weeks, she takes the townsfolk books to read.  Soon, the TV matters little and reading takes hold.  With that, the populace becomes more educated and learns just how important a library is to the community.

Now let’s look at the everyday ways a library changes lives.

  • Libraries provide a safe haven, especially true if one comes from a dysfunctional family or lives in a bad neighborhood.
  • Libraries provide computer training for those who grew up before the digital era, thus providing skills that directly lead to a job or indirectly to one, via applying online and/or offering word processors.
  • Libraries offer low- or no-cost entertainment for patrons, often via speaker events, story times, crafting events, etc.  This helps low-income families save money needed for necessities.
  • Librarians can teach patrons to use library resources, helpful training that can be used to locate information needed for many purposes.  Examples include seeking information on a company when applying for jobs or seeking medical information to better understand a doctors’ diagnosis.
  • Besides the home, libraries are often the first place that expose young children to literacy.  When they attend story time or check out books to take home, the children are exposed to more words and ideas giving them a heads-up when they begin school.
  • Libraries provide reading material for those that could otherwise not afford it.
  • Librarians can touch lives when they help patrons.  It can be as simple as being the only smiling face they see or more complicated, such as being the one to show them something that forever alters their life.
  • Libraries offer tutorial books to allow patrons to learn new skills, such as languages, repair works, or crafts.  These can then be used to obtain jobs, start a business, or start a new hobby.
  • Librarians can serve as role models to children and young adults.  This is even more true when one is either the same gender and/or ethnicity as a child or teen.

Want to read more personalized stories of how libraries change lives?  Check out the At Your Library website ALA is sponsoring.  It has hundreds of stories submitted by real people.  If you wish to check out my story, visit one of my original posts and see why I chose Library Science as my career.

Has you library changed your life?  If so, how?  Has it changed the life of anyone you know?  Please share if you desire!


6 thoughts on “Lives Change @ Your Library

  1. Our Jefferson County Library (High Ridge, MO) was a big help to me as I first got involved in researching genealogy for both my husband’s and my families. I’ve attended day long workshops & seminars they’ve had on various aspects of genealogy. More people should make an effort to visit their library and see what it has to offer.

    • Cathy, Glad you found the resources-both material and programming-at JCL-Northwest Branch useful. I’ve been meaning to check those out myself someday. Have you gone out to Columbia and used The State Historical Society of Missouri’s resources? I took advantage of many of those while I lived and volunteered/interned there. I’ve also heavily mined Missouri Digital Heritage (

  2. I think you’ve covered everything in your great list. For me the library changed my life when I began working at one and discovered it was the perfect job for me. One of my favorite picture books is Library Lion. 🙂

    • Marcia, Thanks sharing how libraries changed your life and for your kinds words about the list! Also, I’ll have to see if the local library where I have a part-time job has the Library Lion since you mentioned it.

  3. Pingback: Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library | Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

  4. Pingback: Missouri’s Libraries are Important (A Call to Action) | Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

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