What Do People Love About Libraries?

What is a library? What makes a library special? A Reddit thread gets to the heart of this question.

Libraries are much more than the books shelved on bookcases. While libraries are created with common purposes, the role they end up taking on depends on their community setting.

A Reddit user recently shared concerns about an encounter with televisions in the library. Reddit users have used this post as an online discussion opportunity to point out the cool ideas that libraries embrace.

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Televisions in Libraries?

The conversation began when someone on the internet complained about televisions being placed in the library, sparking worries about “non-reading things” being present in a library.

Once this opinion was expressed the internet community responded with surprising animation. Many people began sharing their own encounters with new and innovative ideas in library settings.

One person mentioned a room that was converted into a “Teen Room” with televisions and video games available after school and during the summer. Another person chimed in and shared how they remember getting together with high school friends to “play UMVC3, Smash, Yu-Gi-Oh, or whatever” at the library before “heading home with new books.” These memories are what warm people’s hearts when it comes to libraries. Good times and great books, as well as a great mix of friends, entertainment, and reading, are what many conjure up when they think about their library experiences.

Other people touch on movie nights held at the library, TVs with headphones, or designated TV sets in the kids’ area. These have not only benefited patrons but also the library. One user who works at a library mentioned that adding a TV increased library donations by a huge margin. In cases like this, there are wins for everyone, especially when libraries face budget cuts.

Community Centers

A common phrase that is mentioned throughout the thread is “community center,” used with both positive and negative connotations.

One librarian mentions how libraries have shifted away from being an entirely quiet space, stating that communities aren’t looking for quiet areas and don’t want solemn, silent spaces anymore. Instead, people need a welcoming place where all members of the community can find information, including cultural information, not unlike what you get through TV screens while watching local sports games.

On the other hand, people in the thread complain that the addition of these new elements diminishes the essence of libraries and turns them into community centers instead.

Alternatively, one user specifically mentions the outrage people had when computers were first introduced to the library. Now that TVs are also part of a typical library experience, she describes how they are used by everyone. Seniors, teens, houseless patrons, and others use them to watch DVDs, the news, and sports. All are users that libraries want to reach. They share the common situation of not having private TVs. In this sense, the library is achieving an overarching goal of reaching patrons and fulfilling a need. In this user’s opinion, the library serves as more than a book sanctuary or community center. It is a haven.

“It was a nice scene…maybe a little noisy. But I realized how important it is to have a free, non-judgmental community space. We don’t have many of those anymore.”

So Much to Appreciate

People have a lot of gratitude when it comes to their local public library. That is a common theme throughout the thread. Librarians and patrons alike have shared their experiences and given their insight on how to handle these changes.

Libraries can still be a place of books, reading, and learning but they have also had the amazing opportunity to become places where people access resources and technologies they wouldn’t be able to use otherwise.

These spaces got people through tough childhoods, homesickness, homelessness, and many more situations. One user shared a story about how difficult it was to come home from college because his dad was anti-internet and cable TV at the time. The library was his escape. Being able to spend days off at the library, utilizing the internet, and watching something, got him through his summer and winter breaks.

The COVID 19 pandemic has caused many to realize there is more to appreciate about libraries than they thought. Librarians help with providing internet access, filling out job applications, looking for lawyers, and providing entertaining book recommendations. One commentator perfectly summed up a recent library visit, “it was a nice scene…maybe a little noisy. But I realized how important it is to have a free, non-judgmental community space. We don’t have many of those anymore.” So, we embrace the TVs and all the other creative, quirky, and incredibly useful, kind, and genuine ideas that come from the library.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation in the comments below.