National Library Week 2017 kicked off yesterday. This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform.” At first thought, many think libraries are just homes for books and places where the classic stereotypical librarians (females with buns, glasses, and cardigans) work. Let me tell you, this is not the case. As those who work in or frequently visit libraries know both of those common thoughts are stereotypes (though glasses and cardigans are common). Maybe they were true in the long-past era of subscription libraries, but in today’s libraries of all types there are workers of all backgrounds and books are just one of many services. Many of today’s libraries serve as a unique mix of community centers, social services centers, research centers, and book repositories.
Today’s libraries fill a niche in their community not served elsewhere, especially in smaller communities. It’s where students go after school to work on homework. Libraries are where those who do not have internet access go to apply for jobs. It’s a place where classes are held to teach genealogy workshops, English as a Second Language classes, technology courses, and more. Many libraries also offer specialized software so people can edit videos or create designs to 3-D print (think makerspaces). Libraries provide programming to all patrons, including the all important summer reading program to help children keep their reading skills strong over summer break. Plus friendly library staff are always on-hand to help locate a book or movie, answer reference and research questions, and assist users with technology issues. As these few examples indicate, libraries serve in more roles than just a home for books.
Going back to this year’s theme, how have libraries transformed your life or the life of someone you know? Please share in the comments section below. What better way is there to celebrate this year’s them than sharing experiences?
To start off the thread, here is one way libraries transformed my life. As readers of the blog well know by now, I am a voracious reader (averaging around 150 books a year; can’t review them all) and I often seek out books on narrow topics. This pattern started young for me, and I probably read two or three times that amount when I was still in the picture book and easy reader stage. Without the library, I never would have been able to read about all the topics I wanted. Because of the library, I could see a movie, such as Disney’s Pocahontas, and then turn around and read the true story to learn more (thus separating fact from fiction). Because of the library, I could read one book and then find even more to read on the subject (I learned to dig deep early, very early. I read the entire youth World War II and animal sections two or three times before I turned 10). Because of the library, I could use databases to look up even more information to satisfy curiosity, even before the internet was prevalent. And because of the librarians, I learned the search skills I still use on a daily basis to look up information online (I was well-grounded in these skills by high school, teaching them to peers when I served as a library aide one hour a day). Without the ability to satisfy my curiosities, I may not be where I am today with history and library science degrees. Therefore, libraries helped to transform my life by letting me explore topics in a safe place without judgement which in turned helped to develop my future career. Had the library not been there for me, my curiosity may have been stifled, thus forcing me down a different life path.
Don’t forget to share how libraries transformed your life or the life of someone you know!