Pursuing Your Passions at the Library
What makes you who you are? What fires you up?
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In school, we all learned a lot. Schools provide a broad base of knowledge that helps students comprehend the world as adults. Many people discover things they enjoy in school — whether subjects, interests or activities.
As we all know, though, true passions don’t stop there. The things we value, the things we are passionate about, we pursue on our own.
Artists don’t stop sketching when they leave school. Gearheads keep tinkering with vehicles. Cosplayers work to improve their props and outfits. In all of these cases learning continues, driven by something internal to all of us — a desire to keep improving in the things we enjoy.
When school ends, learning continues, but new community-based opportunities must be found. Fortunately, almost every community in the country has a public library to fill that role — there are more public libraries nationwide than there are Starbucks or McDonalds, and while they don’t have the reputation for being everywhere that those stores enjoy, public libraries remain as a valuable resource that can turn an interest into a full-blown passion.
Many famous people started out as kids exploring the world and their own interests in their local library. Comedian Drew Carey, for instance, once said “I used to go to the library all the time when I was kid. As a teenager, I got a book on how to write jokes at the library, and that, in turn, launched my comedy career.” Malcolm X said that his “alma mater was books, a good library.” The Wright brothers grew up as readers and library patrons, in a house that valued reading and informal education, and became the self-taught geniuses that created powered human flight. If there’s one thing that has been proven over and over again from countless biographies of great minds, it’s that the right book, in the right hands, at the right time, can change the world.
And libraries are more than just books. Public libraries offer a staggering array of programs designed to teach new skills, spark new interests and connect like-minded enthusiasts throughout their communities. Here are but a few highlights:
· Beer brewing at the Denver Public Library
· Rooftop gardening at Brooklyn Public Library
· Coding for girls at Tuscaloosa Public Library
· Cosplay club at Pickerington Public Library
· Needlework class at the Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County
· Coloring at the Palmdale City Library
· Bike repair at the Seattle Public Library
· Painting at Mid-Continent Public Library
· Coin collecting at Cobb County Public Library
· Graphic design at Temecula Public Library
· Cooking at Maitland Public Library
· Fishing at Oak Bluffs Public Library
· Public speaking at Cumberland Public Library
Part of the joy of public libraries is how endlessly flexible they can be in the programs they offer and the materials they provide — the best libraries respond to their communities and make their patrons’ ideas and requests a reality, and engage them in the planning process.
Wander, then, down the nonfiction stacks of your local library and see what jumps out at you. Take a chance on something new and different — if it doesn’t grab you, there’s no harm done, after all. See what programs are on offer, and suggest new ideas. It’s a wide, wonderful world out there, and everyone has something at which they can excel — your library can help you find out what it is!