Why is it important to support your local library?
Libraries are an essential part of any healthy community. They matter now more than ever because they create equal access for all. They’ve evolved into hubs of learning and innovation.
As a child, the library meant books, story time, and random collections of VHS tapes to me. In the digital age, libraries mean free Internet services, literacy programs, research databases, meetings, classes, ebooks, audiobooks, community outreach, and more.
Libraries have provided community outreach as covid-19 ravaged our communities. For instance, the Chicago Public Libraries banded together under the initiative Operation Hope, which sends donations of PPE to three area hospitals and their healthcare workers. The El Dorado County Library, CA, has delivered 700 face shields and plans to use its 3D printers to make another 15k for local hospitals and county facilities.
I could list 100s more examples like this.
So how can you give back and support your local library through covid and beyond?
Support Your Library’s Programming by Attending Online Events via Zoom
Statistics help us prove to local officials that the community uses the library, and they tell us what programs, events, services, and materials our community wants.
Did you know most libraries offer online book clubs, books discussions, and story times?
91% of Americans ages 16 and older say public libraries are important to their communities, yet only 22% say that they know all or most of the services their libraries offer.Pew Research
Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL), my local library, features a Zoom series of authors, performers, journalists, activists, and educators. All you need to do is reserve your spot online. Simple!
CCPL offers Play-Online and hosts online gaming and tournaments. ProjectArts Online holds tuition-free, after-school art classes for children. Also, students can receive live, online tutoring for free with a library cards via Tutor.com.
Check your library’s website. I think you’ll be surprised to see all of the great programming your family can enjoy through quarantine and beyond. Use it. It’s free! By participating, you are giving back to your community.
The following infographic courtesy of SenSource shows how libraries are adapting to changes in technology:Library-Tech-Info
Give Back to Your Library by Donating Your Time or Used Books and Join Friends of the Library
Obviously, now is not the best time to volunteer. Most libraries closed their doors last March and have yet to reopen them. Still, many make available curbside pickup, digital material loans, and online activities.
If you donate money to charitable causes this time of year consider donating to your local library foundation. That way you give back directly to those in your community.
My local library uses those donations to offer free after school homework assistance, support struggling readers with the 1-2-3 READ program, supply laptops for adult learners, and provide resources for new parents.
An alternative to a one-time donation is to become a member of Friends of the Library. FOTL’s function is to raise money for the library.
If you can’t afford the commitment of a Friends membership, you can donate your used books. These books go into the Friends of the Library’s used books sales, where they are resold for $1 apiece.
I never miss the library’s used book sales. For one, the books are super cheap, both kids and adults books. Plus, I know every dollar I spend there goes right back into my own library, which benefits my neighbors and my family.
Help Your Library by Telling Your Friends and Sharing on Social Media
Like any typical business, libraries thrive on word of mouth.
Share images of your library on social media. When an online library event catches your eye, spread the word! By doing so, you raise your community’s awareness and spread the library’s visibility.
Share images of the books you’ve checked out. Share screenshots of events and information from your local library’s website. If your library has its own social media accounts, spread the love by sharing its posts on your own pages.
The following is a quick representation of my local library’s Instagram account @cuyahogalib:
Teach your children to love the library. As soon as they are old enough, get them their own library cards. Let them check out books, ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, comic books, and dvds.
Did you know you can request books if your library doesn’t carry them? Ask and you shall receive. The library will find the books for you and have them shipped to your local branch/community. Pretty cool! Right?
Tell Your Library What You Want and Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
Check out books, ebooks, and audiobooks regularly. Borrow, borrow, borrow!
Many libraries are now offering contactless curbside pickup of library materials, such as books, movies and even WIFI hotspots. You place a hold on the materials you want to pick up. When you go to pick up your materials, you place a call to the reference desk, pop your trunk, and a masked, gloved staff member places your order in your trunk. Easy peasy!
Ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital materials are available 24/7 via OverDrive and Libby apps.
My local library provides a program called Words on Wheels. Residents unable to pick up due to age (over 60) or disability can have library materials delivered to their home.
Here is a list of some free library apps available to users:
Reinforce Your Library’s Value by Letting Local Leaders Know You Value It
Take a few minutes to write a letter to your local officers in support of your library.
Sometimes, no matter how much you support your library, it still feels like it’s never enough. Budgets get cut, programs get cancelled, and books get censored. In order to combat these changes, you can become a library advocate.
E-mail or call your legislator or Town Council person expressing your support for library services. Attend public hearings to demonstrate your support of public library funding. Be vocal!
Doing any one of the following things supports your library through covid and beyond:
- Attend online library events and programming via Zoom.
- Donate your time or used voice and join Friends of the Library.
- Tell your friends you use the library.
- Borrow, borrow, borrow.
- Let your local officials know you value your library.
I hold libraries close to my heart. My mother raised me to use them, and that value stuck with me my entire life. Now that I have children of my own, I am passing along that love to them. In the sixteen years since I started having children, we have spent 100s and 100s of hours at the library.
Reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know how these tips helped you think about your library in new ways. For more bookish content, check out my Instagram @jenjburt_mamabookworm.