Plan Your Post-Quarantine Travels Now Through Your Library

Have you been stuck at home, flattening the curve as cabin fever rises? The time for travel may not be now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least plan your first trip once you’re free from travel restrictions! And hey, it might help to take a bit of a mental road trip as well as you explore all the different places to visit during the planning process. Whether you are looking to make a day trip or plan to tour your state — or even the country — once the state of emergency is lifted, there are few stops full of more value than those of America’s public libraries. Many libraries to host special, rare, unique, or locally and historically relevant materials in their collections, making up what is known as a “special collection”.

Put a Presidential Library on Your Map this Summer

Summer vacation is for visiting family and friends at the beach or in the great outdoors. Travelers also enjoy visiting cultural or historical sites which celebrate America’s history. You may already have one or more such patriotic tourist attractions in your summer itinerary — such as Independence Mall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Alamo in San Antonio, or Mount Rushmore in South Dakota — but not everyone thinks of adding one of the Presidential Libraries to their list. Here at EveryLibrary, we think you should. The Presidential Library system is one of our greatest national cultural resources and a wonderful way to explore our history through the lens of America’s highest elected office.

The Most American of Ideas: Our Public Libraries

Our nation’s libraries unlock the gates of opportunity and success for all and Public libraries advocate for equal access and opportunity. They are constantly evolving and creating new ways to serve the community. Libraries offer services that benefit community members from internet access to health education and resources to technology training to career preparation. Their significant role in promoting literacy and helping the community learn is also a reason why libraries are one of the most American of all institutions. After all, like Frederick Douglass states, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

Secrets for a Successful Book Club

The short story is: talk to your librarians. They have all the good stuff! 

Looking to settle a bet or win an argument? Call or text the library.

Traditionally, summertime is reading season, and we could all use a little bit of help with something, whether it’s finding a part-time job, learning a new skill, or exploring family history. The library is your “go-to” place to find trained professionals who can help you find the information you need. Librarians are also highly skilled at recommending your next great read! So, what are reference and readers’ advisory services, anyway? At public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries, librarians offer in-person and virtual assistance for users. Reference services help library users find information and perform research. Readers’ advisory services connect readers of all ages and abilities with texts.

Why Are Libraries Eliminating Late Fees?

Libraries are known for many things like their large book collections, knowledgeable staff, and sometimes even those dreaded late fees for overdue books. Late fees and fines have been used by libraries for a long time to remind patrons to return library materials on time and while many people believe that fines are another form of revenue these methods have not been as effective as people originally thought. Many are advocating for fine-free libraries not only because they end up being better for the community it serves but also for the library itself. Libraries across the country are starting to adopt this idea and as the years go by, we’ve seen more and more cities eliminating library fines. From Salt Lake City to London, libraries are adopting fine-free policies. Check out all of the libraries in the world that have made the transition so far!

The Best Indie Book Project in America

Most people are familiar with bestseller lists from those listed on news websites like The New York Times Bestseller List or those associated with other organizations like Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, or even Amazon. These books, written by popular or up-and-coming authors, are usually noted for the top-selling status and become very well-known to the general public. On the other end, Independent (Indie) authors have much less recognition for their works. They usually don’t have the same level of exposure as authors with major publishing companies backing them. The Indie Author Project (IAP) works to feature books published by independent authors and creates collections of indie bestsellers and award-winners to showcase to the public. IAP encourages and helps facilitate strong relationships between authors, local public libraries, and readers.

The Edible Alphabet

Libraries have a vested interest in promoting literacy and language skills. Many librarians out there go well above and beyond to find ways to engage their communities and deliver those skills. Case in point: The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Edible Alphabet program. The Edible Alphabet is an English Language Learning (ELL) program offered to people for whom English is not their native language. While ELL programs are fairly standard across the country, the Edible Alphabet takes a different approach: The program (in non-pandemic times, anyway) takes place in a kitchen, where participants prepare and eat new recipes, while working on their English skills both for following the recipe and for socializing with each other.

Dolly Parton (and Local Pediatricians) Put Reading First

Early literacy interventions are crucial when it comes to making sure children are equipped with the experiences needed to tackle school, careers, and life challenges down the road. A variety of programs work to make sure that children and their families are getting access to books and resources and do a great job of engaging them when it is important. Recent studies have even shown the impact when programs work together to accomplish these goals. Researchers combined Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) and Reach Out and Read (ROR) to examine the effectiveness this combination has on kindergarten readiness assessment scores (KRA). They implemented this at urban primary care sites the ROR serves. What they discovered was that combining literary guidance at pediatric clinic visits while also introducing more books into the home was beneficial to improving kindergarten readiness. Researchers found that health care providers end up playing an important role when it comes to helping patients prepare for school.

Cooking with the Library

If it doesn’t seem logical to connect cooking with libraries, we have some news for you: Not only is it logical, it’s popular, even during the pandemic. Libraries across the country offered in-person cooking classes before COVID, and many of those have gone digital, providing much-needed fun, distraction, and camaraderie during lockdowns. Garden City Public Library in New York has Summer Recipes with Chef Rob Scott, a series of cooking demonstrations complete with recipes; St. Louis County Library combined book groups with mocktail recipes; The Verona library system in New Jersey has virtual kids’ cooking classes; and in Springfield, Massachusetts, the library coordinates an email-based cooking club. These are only a few examples of what’s out there. To learn more, we spoke with Stacie Larson, director and CEO of the Maitland Public Library in Florida, and Kami Bumgardner, youth services assistant in Maitland, about the cooking programs they offer and why they’re important. Maitland had an active roster of cooking classes long before the pandemic arrived. “They were in person, and in a very makeshift way,” said Larson. “We have these six-foot resin tables, and at their very highest level, they’re kitchen-counter height. We would put two of those together at the front of the room. We’ve improved since then. But in 2013 we had a three-burner hotplate, variable heat, an electric skillet, two toaster ovens and microwaves. In 2014, we got a grant to build a proper demonstration kitchen. It’s got a two-burner induction range built into the counter. We set the tables up facing into the kitchen, but it’s got an actual oven and an actual range. it doesn’t wobble when you chop vegetables.”