The library has been one of my favorite places in the world ever since I first sat cross-legged on the floor, turning pages of picture books in the children’s department of Morrison-Reeves Library. My dream of writing a book first sparked to life in the library. The other day someone shared with me that her library had ordered my cookbook, Eat at Home Tonight, and I got so excited to know that my book will have a place on the library shelf!
It’s not only the library books that have been important in my life, but the place itself has carried meaning for me. I met several of my good friends for the very first time in the library. My kids have met interesting people and learned about all kinds of topics through library programs. During summer programs my kids and their friends were able to get an up-close look at wild birds, make paper by hand, tie-dye material and more. Libraries provide a place for communities to gather and grow.
In essence, libraries are truly holding us all together in ways that we often take for granted.
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1. Libraries are actual, physical buildings where we can meet real people face-to-face and hold books in our hands. Because we come to the library frequently, we often see the same people, allowing friendships to grow.
2. Librarians and library patrons do more to foster a love of reading than any other group of people. More children fall in love with books and ideas in libraries than anywhere else in the world. Books simultaneously bring comfort, security, adventure and openness to children and adults alike.
3. You can learn almost anything through the library. From computer courses to Lynda.com access, to foreign language and ESL classes, your local library offers so much to the community.
4. Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card. (Bonus points if you know that the character who said this got his start in picture books.*)
6. Nowhere else in life are you encouraged to take as much as you can, but you can walk out the library door weighed down by bulging book bags or struggling to see around the tower of books balanced in your arms. This is the best kind of indulgence.
7. Library programs such as story time, book clubs, classes and more foster true friendships between people. Book Buddies programs for homebound adults and community programs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities bring library benefits (and human connection) to those who can’t get out anymore.
8. Because there’s no commitment to purchase or store the books, library patrons are free to explore any topic or author that strikes their fancy. I’m unlikely to buy a book on mushroom hunting or modern art or how to build a backyard deck, but I’d happily check out any of these from the library.
9. The Dewey Decimal system brings an order to the world that inspires us to also bring order our lives. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch, but there’s something lovely about categorizing all the topics in the world into a neatly numbered system.
10. The biography section is full of life lessons we can apply, both what to do and what not to do for success and happiness.
12. Signing your name for your first library card is the first right of passage into being an active member of society.
13. Libraries hold local history, artifacts, and stories as well as being a resource for current local activities.
Libraries are the unsung heroes of our communities. Everyone who plays a part in making libraries possible is also making the world a better place. Carry (and use) your library card proudly!
*Arthur, from the series by Marc Brown
Featured image: Johann Knox