Libraries Support Communities Coming Through COVID

Libraries help ease the financial burden of COVID and inflation with lending libraries and a Library of Things.

A Library of Things and lending libraries help people get through COVID-induced financial strain.

The COVID pandemic clarified the importance of community infrastructures to support people through difficult times. In addition, the absence of some of those programs due to COVID closures reinforced the need for grassroots-level neighborhood initiatives. Libraries have heard the call and expanded their offerings far beyond conventional book lending.

Food Security Projects

Some libraries are opening library kitchens in answer to food scarcity concerns in their communities. Library kitchens advance culinary literacy by demonstrating culinary skills and nutritional awareness while teaching history, cultural heritage, science, and more. 

These programs can also serve as an opportunity to distribute food to community members in need. In addition, libraries are using their food-based programs to teach sustainable living by combining their cooking programs with gardening programs and library garden plots that promote locally grown foods.

Other libraries have partnered with local sustainability organizations to create heritage seed libraries, where community members can access heritage seeds to grow their own food.

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Tool Lending Libraries

Tool lending libraries that allow members to borrow home and garden tools, mechanical equipment, and craft and sewing equipment have been around since the 1970s. 

Book lending libraries have taken notice of the movement and are offering space for tool lending libraries and the workshops they offer within their traditional library structure. In fact, libraries such as the Berkeley Public Library now allow community members to reserve tools and equipment online. 

Sometimes called a Library of Things, these tool repositories allow community members to utilize equipment that would potentially be too expensive for them to buy or maintain. This can be especially helpful in economically disadvantaged areas, where repurposing and repair can be necessities.

Health and Well-Being Projects

Libraries are stepping into the healthcare gap by offering programs that increase health literacy. From offering exercise programs and healthy cooking classes to setting up bike repair stations, libraries are empowering members to take their health and wellness into their own hands.

Libraries may also offer workshops on living with chronic diseases or host classes led by health and wellness experts in the community. 

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Responding to Community Needs

All over the country, libraries are finding ways to meet the unique needs of their communities. For example, Poplar Creek Public Library opened a Memory Center within its collection aimed at those with dementia and their caregivers.

Whether it's a culinary literacy program, a telehealth station, or something entirely unique, libraries remind us of the importance of sharing what we have so that all of us can thrive.

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