Friends, I love my local library. When I moved into my new apartment, one of the first items on my checklist was to find out how far I needed to walk to get my weekly book fix, and thankfully, my closest option was only ten minutes away.
Through my local library's website, I can check out e-books for my phone, put books on hold and have them shipped to my closest location for pick-up, or renew books that I haven't yet gotten through.
My local branch hosts knitting and sewing events on occasion, as well as reading events for kids and teenagers, and has a public meeting room that can be reserved for groups in the area. It plays a vital role in bringing together members of the community in a safe and peaceful space.
This week, I am asking you to take a field trip to your local library and see what services are offered there. I'm asking you to sign up for a library card and browse the hard copy shelves or the e-book shelves. I'm asking you to check out that movie that you always wanted to see, or that Mozart CD so you have something to relax to at night. This might seem a strange ask with everything else happening in the country at the moment, but I firmly believe that libraries are the cornerstones of our communities, and if they aren't used, are in danger of losing funding and support.
At my local library, the computers are in use by folks who do not have internet access in their homes, or do not have regular access to computers, but who still need to apply for jobs, complete government documents, or communicate with family, friends, attorneys, and/or employers. The after school homework assistance helps kids in the neighborhood succeed in their schooling, while letting the parents work and not worry about if their kids are safe at that moment.
Some libraries have government funding, and some do not. Those that do rely on government funding have been subject to budget cuts, and it does not appear that those cuts will cease any time soon. While we wait to see how the incoming administration and Congress handles our budget (including funding for libraries), I ask that you check out your local library in person and see the benefits it offers you and your community. (Shout out to Mary Dempsey, who is cited in the linked article for building 40 new library locations in Chicago: "I’ve purchased and knocked down more liquor stores, more no-tell motels, more really crummy and dilapidated, burned-out buildings in neighborhood after neighborhood and replaced them with libraries than I’d ever thought I’d do in my life.")
If you're in an area without any libraries, perhaps check out this map for a listing of Little Free Libraries. I have four in my neighborhood, and some of my favorite books have come from those friendly little boxes.
Friends, do you use your libraries regularly? What services do you enjoy most?