Libraries Are The Key To Literacy

It won’t come as a surprise that literacy is important to libraries — after all, they’re the repository of vast quantities of reading materials they want people to be able to use. But there are considerably more reasons for libraries to support literacy efforts. From learning to read so children can read to learn through to work, health, and civic life libraries are focused on making sure everyone can read at their own level.

Libraries Can Help in Times of Stress, Uncertainty, and Burnout

Americans are struggling with excessive stress, anxiety, or burnouts find that it affects all aspects of their lives — from work to social circles and family. This is why many libraries have created initiatives to not only bring awareness to mental health but also ways to maintain good mental health and work through trying times.    

Delightful, Unconventional Library Spaces

Libraries can be beautiful spaces to visit, read, explore, and have some peace of mind. They are usually designed with the patron in mind with many libraries implementing specific design features that make spaces welcoming and accessible. The list is endless when it comes to exploring thoughtfully built library spaces. There are plenty of well-known libraries all around the world featuring classic architecture from ancient times or futuristic, sleek floor plans for the modern-day reader. There is also another type of library that exists and that is one created from the most unexpected places. There are innovative thinkers and supporters of public libraries that transform old buildings or unconventional objects into a public library for the community to use. There’s a lot to explore when it comes to these library spaces and plenty of interesting backstories to dive into.

When the Bookmobile is also a Vaccination Site

The past year has been filled with endless ups and downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People all over the world have powered through cycles of quarantines and lockdowns with news of vaccines being a major source of hope for many. As expected, logistics for vaccine distribution and equal access to healthcare are a lot to facilitate. This is one of those tasks that truly takes a village. The Sussex County Public Library has stepped up to serve members of southern Delaware by providing life-saving vaccines through mobile clinics. These efforts are hugely important because they help reach those in the community who may struggle to access healthcare. Through these innovative efforts, the library has demonstrated once again that it is there to help people.

The Modern Librarian Does More Than You Think

The modern librarian does more for their libraries and patrons than reading books and restocking shelves. Librarians are qualified, educated professionals encompassing a wide variety of skills and an even wider variety of roles — many often don’t work with books at all! But yet to many, a stereotype about librarians persists. A plainly-dressed clerk, likely with glasses. They’re carrying a stack of books somewhere, perhaps restocking a shelf. If approached, they may tell you where to find something, or perhaps look up a title in the computer before heading off once again into the labyrinth of shelves or back behind the mighty fortress of the desk. If you make too much noise, they’ll get cranky.

Digital Equity Means More than Just Access to the Internet

Libraries are known for providing many important services and resources to their communities. However, for those who aren’t as familiar with library landscapes, the top things that come to mind that libraries provide are books and computers. This isn’t surprising especially because libraries are major supporters of literacy when it comes to knowing how to read and how to navigate digital spaces. Books and computers are also some of the most commonly seen objects in the library. At first glance, it can be easy for some to assume that these are the focuses and miss out on additional resources like classes, programs, skilled staff, etc. Closing the digital divide has been an important mission that libraries are working to tackle. The rise in technology use and the need for technology on a daily basis has revealed the huge gap that some communities face. This is why libraries are also stepping into new roles and developing new strategies in order to best help library patrons. Libraries are places that provide equity of access for everyone regardless of their own means. Taking a step towards the future and working the better the present involves a dedication towards digital equity.

Libraries Defend the Truth and Preserve History for Young People

One of the aspects of libraries that I love most is that they truly exist for the advancement of their communities. Whether a library serves a school, a university, a small town, or a larger city, it acts as an entity that shares resources and information that is correct. At times, this means that libraries share facts and materials which are not necessarily politically correct; librarians must be concerned with providing truth, as opposed to advancing their personal opinions.

The Holden Effect and Picking Exactly the Right Book (at the right moment)

Whether you love to read fiction or non-fiction (or both), every reader should have a few huge reading experiences in their lives — books that lead to big decisions, massive realizations, or a re-framing of a world view. Though I’ve worked in libraries for two decades now, I still love drifting through libraries and bookstores in the hopes of discovering a book that will thrill and amaze me. Throughout those years of work and wandering, I’ve identified some concepts (heuristics, even) that help me help other readers to get the best experience when choosing books. One of those ideas is something I’ve taken to calling the “Holden Effect.” You might know that Holden Caulfield is the pissant protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s enduring novel Catcher in the Rye. It’s obvious by the way I described young Holden that I read Salinger’s novel too late to identify with Caulfield and find the novel meaningful. And that’s the essence of the Holden Effect: Coming across a book at the wrong moment to fully appreciate it.

Bridging the Digital Divide One Load of Laundry at a Time

Wash and Learn Libraries are coming up with innovative solutions for reaching out to people all over the community. Their new strategies take into consideration the different types of situations people may be facing when it comes to access to things like books, the internet, and other educational resources. Recently, Libraries Without Borders came up with an idea to address this need for patrons by meeting them where they’re at in the community: laundromats!

7 Tips for Genealogists from the Library

Being curious about our family or hometown history is natural for humans. What’s great is that oftentimes there are plenty of resources out there just waiting to be discovered and incorporated into our research. Those who are just getting started may be uncertain about where to begin looking for information and have endless questions on the process of genealogy research. There’s plenty of practical advice that can help you take your first steps into the world of genealogy and public libraries, special collections, and research libraries will be the best places to guide you with your genealogical inquiries.