National Library Week: Supporting Your Local Library

Vintage LibrarianNational Library Week, April 7-13
We celebrate ourselves during this special week, and share an excerpt from this funny/wise article by Kristin Arnett. Enjoy, and visit us often!Supporting your local library

DO: Visit the library. The thing about libraries is . . . we need you to use them. All the time.
Like so much of life, the biggest part of supporting anything or anyone is just showing up. We need you to use the library! That means walking in the door, sure, but it also means availing yourself of our myriad online services. Use all those databases you’ve got access to but have never, ever touched. . . Use your online account. Figure out what we have to offer! But walking through the door is a big part of this, too, and I can’t stress that enough. We want you showing up. Your presence is the present.

DO: Get a library card. Don’t lie. I know lots of you don’t have one of these. Or it’s not current. Or you moved and you’ve still got the card for your old library, but not the one for your new neighborhood. Go get a library card. Check out materials with that card. Statistics are important for libraries. Most of the time it’s how we validate our funding, especially for public libraries. The higher the number of people getting library cards—especially new community members—the better off a library is.

DO: Attend library events. Remember earlier, when I was talking about stats and how vital they are for funding? One of the biggest ways that libraries tally these numbers is by seeing how many people show up for community events. There are so many things going on, events that library staff have worked on for weeks, sometimes months, to make sure that they’re well attended. So when two people (total) attend those events, it’s a bummer. Find out what’s going on at your local library and show up! Bring friends with you. Attend! We can plan and work and set up and be there, but unless people come to the events, our programming gets cancelled. And we want to keep doing these events for you!

DO: Donate your time, volunteer, join Friends of the Library. We are always looking for volunteers. To help with programming or to assist with all the minutiae that pile up while we’re busy working two-three-four jobs at a time. Every library has different volunteer needs, but one thing is for sure: we all need help, always. So! Join the Friends of the Library and help work a book sale.

Volunteering your time also gives you better insight into what all exactly goes on into making a library function. You’ll have a new appreciation for the things your library does for your community—and you’ll be better equipped to help promote those things to your friends, family, loved ones, strangers on the street.

DO: Talk to your Library Staff and ask about specific community needs.
The best way for the library to know what patrons need is for you to tell us. We want to hear from you, always. The library is yours! It should have the materials you want. It should offer the programming you’re interested in. It should cater to the needs of its patrons. If you’re complaining that you don’t like to use your local library because it never has anything for you, then I want to ask: did you tell them? Because though we are all-powerful superheroes, the one thing librarians aren’t is mind readers. We can’t know what to supply if you don’t show up and tell us what you’re looking for. Would you like cooking classes at the library? Do you think the poetry section should be more expansive? We’re thrilled to hear that there are things we can do specifically for you. And we will strive, always, to make sure those things happen. But we can’t change anything if you don’t ask us first.

DO: Let your legislators know that your community library is a valuable and necessary part of your neighborhood.
Libraries rely on funding to stay afloat. We need that money for materials, to throw events, to pay our staff, to maintain those computers that everyone uses. If you show up for us, we get to show up for you. Let your local legislators know that your library serves a crucial, important need. Let them know that the neighborhood would be worse off if the library weren’t around. We support you; you support us, too.

At the end of the day, we are one of the last remaining free spaces for communities. We don’t make you buy anything to hang out. We want you here with us! Show your support by showing up and giving back a little bit of yourself.

*And if you want to bring (us) a box of donuts when you visit, that would be cool, too.

-Adapted from The Dos and Don’ts of Supporting your local library, by Kristin Arnett, on Lit Hub