Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week and have a relaxing or exciting weekend ahead of you. If you were affected by the blizzard like I was, I hope you’re all safe and warm. I lost power all of Tuesday and didn’t get power back until Wednesday noon! What’s funny is that I was so enthralled in my reading that I didn’t even notice that the power had gone out, LOL.
My friend, Tiana, over at The Book Raven Blog started this really great discussion a couple days ago called “I Don’t Use Libraries.” And I just thought it was such a great blog post idea that I just had to write up my own.
If you didn’t already know, I’m currently enrolled in the Rutgers Master of Information program online and am on my way to earning my Master of Library and Information Sciences degree with a focus in School Librarianship. I go to school part-time (100% online, from home) and work part-time at my local library as a Library Assistant for the Youth Services department.
As someone who is pursuing librarianship and works in a library, it’s easy for me to advocate for libraries in communities everywhere. The library is definitely a place for research with ample resources both physical and digital for students, professors, teachers, etc. The library is also a great starting place for children to cultivate and nurture a life-long appreciation for literature and learning as evident from all the story time and crafting programs that most libraries usually have for kids.
While the library is definitely a center for information, it is capable of being of so much more than that. One of the best things about libraries is that, if well-appreciated and well-funded, they are adaptable and can be made to meet the needs of the communities they serve. An academic library at your college will be different from a music library which will also be different from your hometown library because they are situated in different locations and will have different services to offer their particular patrons.
I work at a Public Library in my hometown and so we have a variety of programs for all ages from infants to senior citizens. One of the best things about libraries (especially public libraries) is that they are community centers. Just last weekend my library hosted its official Comic Con which was open to the public, no registration required! We had vendors selling bookish/comic merch, presenters, discussion panels, and even a cosplay pageant for kids. Like many other libraries, we have conference rooms available to rent for all sorts of clubs and organizations, we have plenty of areas for people to study, hang out, and lounge, and we recently renovated our picture book section to make it more “play-area” friendly (which, actually, has its ups and downs if you work in a library LOL). Before I started working, there was apparently a wedding (or two) that took place there which is just so adorable!!
It’s not always fun for us, but the library is also a safe place for a lot of people who may not have somewhere to go. I’ve seen single parents who are also still in school and come to the library because they need to do work but don’t have a babysitter. For some patrons we are within a safe walking distance if they need someplace warm to hang out. The library is not only special because there are computers and books, but because it is a welcoming, physical space for patrons and visitors alike.
Something special that we are very lucky to have, that not many libraries have, is an American Girl Doll lending program! We have 10 American Girl dolls that patrons can check out for a week which is awesome if you don’t feel like paying $120 for your own doll or want to just test it out before getting your own.
As someone who collects their own books, I definitely understand how the library can become obsolete to you as you get older. There is something really special about starting your own library and I am addicted to buying books online (just another month til Easter and I’ll be off my online shopping ban for Lent!!). But there are many people who love books, but can’t afford to spend money on them and so having a library nearby is essential. Since I work in Youth Services, I’ve met so many parents who love bringing their kids to library programs and often check out tons of books at a time. At my library, 60 is the max number of items you can have checked out on one card and I’ve known quite a few patrons who always return 60 books and then check out 60 more! Like most libraries, we do have penalties for late and lost items. But you’d be surprised by how many patrons I meet who are actually happy to pay late fees and reimburse us for lost books because to them, the library is invaluable and being able to use the services we have and borrow the materials we own is so meaningful to them.
Not all libraries are equal and their livelihoods and services really depend on the communities using them. As a future information specialist/hopeful school librarian, it’s really important for me (and my colleagues) to understand how and why people use the library so that we can better improve our practices and implement more effective services to meet communities’ needs.
I’d love if you would share with me what a library means to you! How often do you stop by your own library? If you stopped using it, why? How well do you know what your school’s library has to offer? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂