What I Wish Everyone Knew About the Library

Do you know all the latest services your library offers?

Things sure have changed in your childhood library.

When I first started working in public libraries 15 years ago, and I would tell someone that I was a librarian, I was often met with one of several responses:

“Oh, you get to shelve books all day.”

“How nice, you get to read all day.”

“It must be nice to work somewhere so quiet and peaceful.”

That showed me that many people have a distorted view of what libraries and librarians are about. Before enrolling in library school, I thought libraries only housed older or outdated materials. Boy, was I wrong!

So whenever I came face to face with misconceptions about today’s public libraries, I made sure to enlighten people on how modern and up-to-date libraries are. Books are just the beginning!

If you haven’t stepped foot in a library within the past few years, there are a few things you may not know about public libraries.

Here is what I wish everyone knew about the library…

You can have a librarian visit your organization.

You can set up a librarian visit at many libraries, such as the Forbes Library in Massachusetts, either at your location or at the library. Call, email, or visit your local library to schedule an outreach or in-person visit.

What happens during a librarian visit?

Having a librarian come to you is the easiest, most convenient option for some organizations. Librarians visit schools, daycare centers, senior living communities, and more. These visits often involve reading aloud, singing, playing musical instruments, and playing games. They may also bring library card applications, program calendars, and promotional materials to hand out.

If you’d like to get your group out for a couple of hours, you can schedule an in-person visit to the library. A librarian can engage your group in some of the above activities, take you on a library tour, and allow you time to check out materials.

Sign the petition to show that Americans love their libraries!

Libraries are only sometimes quiet.

Suppose your last visit to the library was sometime in the 20th century. In that case, you probably expect to get silenced if you speak above a whisper. But the truth is that public libraries are no longer an oasis of silence. Instead, you’ll likely find a lively environment where children sing or dance, and librarians and patrons engage in friendly conversation. There may even be a concert at the Cranford Public Library in New Jersey, like the Bagpipe Concert.

Suppose you want a quiet environment to read or study. You can still visit at traditionally slower times, such as during the school day. Or your library may offer quiet study rooms you can reserve if you need a space without distractions.

You can request books and other materials that your library doesn’t own.

If your local library is on the smaller side, their collection will also be more limited. But you can still access other books and materials with your library card. Some libraries are part of a more extensive library system. You can quickly request books from different branches and have them sent to your home branch.

And even if your library system doesn’t own a particular item, most will allow you to place an interlibrary loan, like the Miami-Dade Public Library System. This involves filling out a form, then having your library find another library system that owns the item. They can then request to borrow that item and have it sent to your home branch.

Send an email to your Representatives to show your support for libraries!

You can have library books delivered to your home.

Getting to the library can be challenging if you live in a rural area, have mobility issues, or need transportation. Some libraries, like the Canton Public Library in Connecticut, offer homebound services in which a library staff member can drop off books and other materials at your home. When you’re ready, they’ll also come to pick them up. This breaks down one of the significant barriers to library access so that everyone can enjoy all available free resources.

You can borrow mobile devices from the library.

If you’ve ever had your laptop conk out in the middle of a project for work or school, you know how frustrating that can be. And sometimes, a new device is not an option at the time. If you find yourself in a bind with a broken-down device or need a bit more time to save up for a new laptop, you can borrow a mobile device from your library. This can also be an excellent way to try out different mobile devices before you buy one.

You can check out a laptop at the Phoenix Public Library, just as you would a book, for up to three weeks. For patrons interested in borrowing tablets, you can check out an Android tablet from the Hubbard Public Library in Ohio for two weeks or an iPad from the San Jose Public Library for up to 90 days.

Get to Know Your Library Again

If you last stepped into your neighborhood library a while ago, there is no better time than now. Libraries are constantly finding new ways to stay current and relevant, so you’re sure to see something new each time you visit. And librarians love sharing all the latest resources they offer, so be sure to ask what’s new!

Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries.

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