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The Importance of Libraries

By Jamie Hurst • May 26, 2020

Library Memories

I have many fond memories of my local public library. At a young age I remember going to the library with my mother, grandmother and siblings. One of my favorite activities at a young age was a story time puppet show. As we were into the story, my grandma was picking up the latest romance novels, (typically the ones with Fabio on the front).

Another highlight at that age were the read along books on cassette. We didn’t have those at home, so they were on the cool list! A colleague recalls his own fond memories of his library’s Legoland. While everyone utilizes the space differently, the commonality is the heartwarming memories under the roof we all know as the library.

As I got older, I learned the dreaded card catalog. My older sister was an avid reader, usually with her nose buried in a V.C. Andrews book, and taught me to use it. I can still smell the cards just thinking about flipping through them, usually looking for Goosebumps or Baby-Sitters Club. I checked out many books to participate in the Book-It Summer Reading program to win those Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas!

When my siblings and I would "have nothing to do" (insert whine here) our parents would drop us off at the library. We did puzzles, played board games, and checked out new books. I felt mature hanging in the cushy chairs, reading a book like the older kids and young adults.

In high school I used the library even more. After moving to a city school, I would walk to the YMCA to play basketball after school, and then over to the library right next door. I volunteered a bit at the library, helping with returns and checking materials in and out. During these times I learned more about using the library for research and the plethora of knowledge the wonderful librarians had to offer. The library was also my introduction to the worldwide web. It had about 8 computers and you could sign up to use the internet. I did not have internet at home yet, so besides school, this was my first undirected, go where your heart desires, internet experience.

Libraries of Today

Today, I feel like libraries are used for so much more, their resources expanding with today’s technology. The internet has opened many career building and job readiness programs for people of all ages. Financial programming, adult learning, summer reading programs...there are so many resources.

I have visited many libraries all over the U.S. and have been introduced to some amazing technology at the library. The first time I saw a 3D Printer in action was at a library, and I was amazed! You can print usable items, wow! A middle school aged child was printing tools for a project. In the same library, there was a recording studio. They had instruments and many of the items needed to make and record music.

There are coding classes and many STEM programs. Another library I’ve visited had a virtual reality "simulator" room with flight simulators as well as forklift, excavator, and driving simulators. You can learn and practice right at the library and get certified for these real-life skills.

The library is such a great resource to help build skills for people of all ages and backgrounds. The programs and tools offered at libraries help mold the minds of society. Shape productive members of our communities, our future leaders. Our communities need libraries and our libraries need funding to continue to provide the wonderful resources they currently offer.

How You Can Support Your Library

There are several ways you can help fund your local library. Circulation plays a big role in the funding provided, so visit your local library and use the resources they provide (most are free of charge).

Donating books and media to your library is another way to support them. ThriftBooks works with many libraries and Library Friends groups to resell discarded and donated books and increase funding to libraries. When you buy a book marked as Ex-Library from ThriftBooks, a portion of the profits are given back to the libraries and Friends groups that provided them to help fund the wonderful resources the library has to offer. Given today’s environment, many local libraries have had to cancel their own sales however you can still help increase library funding through your purchase on ThriftBooks. Together we can support our much loved libraries and help them continue to provide the wide range of resources and wonderful memories for many years to come.

What are your favorite memories at your local library? What do you think the most useful resources are at libraries today?

For more on libraries of today, check out the second blog in our library series: Libraries and COVID-19.

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