The Value of Libraries- A List

When people think of libraries, their mind probably drifts immediately to books. It’s true; at the core of a library is its bookshelves, and the books it contains within them. However, libraries provide far more to their communities than a vast selection of novels and encyclopedias. Here’s a list of just some of the many things public libraries offer here in the United States.

  • Warmth and/or Air Conditioning (by season), drinking water, bathrooms

My area doesn’t have a large homeless population, but we do have a few homeless friends. The library keeps them off the streets, and in a warm environment where they have access to clean, running water, heat/air conditioning, bathrooms for hygiene, and lots of entertainment to keep them busy until they find employment to help them earn a salary to get back on their feet again!

  • citizenship classes and books

Trying to become a citizen of the United States? The library can help!

  • ESL classes
  • foreign language conversation groups
  • computer classes for seniors
  • magazines
  • movies
  • music- free, legal downloadable music from the library prevents piracy!
  • e-books
  • audiobooks (for the blind and for the sighted)
  • travel guides
  • children’s storytimes- promoted child literacy
  • STEM programs- 3D printing, coding/computer programming…for children, teens and adults
  • makerspaces
  • access to opposing viewpoints
  • knowledgable librarians that can help you decode fact from fiction- fake news? not when you consult a librarian and his/her arsenal of research databases!
  • help for the unemployed- job searching, resumes, etc.
  • a family
  • access to research materials, online and in print
  • newspapers
  • museum passes- encourages cultural literacy, empathy
  • resources for learning a foreign language
  • books on a variety of topics: cancer prevention, recipes for diabetics, baby names, history, confidence, mental health, religion/spirituality, exercise, environmental concerns….
  • community programs/events for all ages: dancing, music, movies, karate, cooking/baking, art….anything a librarian or teacher can dream up!

 

This list will never be complete. Libraries evolve as technology evolves. I frequently am asked the question, “do you think people don’t need libraries anymore because of the internet?” My answer is always, “No!” People always will need libraries and information professionals. Technology has evolved rapidly- true. The internet gives us access to a whole new world of information that could never fit in a little building- true. But all of this is only a change in HOW we access information. People still need information, and it is a library’s job to protect a patron’s privacy and right to that information. In addition, the internet is full of false information. People need us more than ever to help them decipher it.

When 3D printers came to the market, we bought them, we learned how to use them, and we began teaching the public. E-readers? No problem! We’ve armed ourselves with databases of e-books and audiobooks for our patrons, and set up a program where patrons can come learn how to use their new devices. Technology is a library’s friend, never its enemy.

If a library has offered you any kind of assistance, given you solace or hope when you felt like you were in despair, I would love to hear your stories in the comments below! Tell me what my list missed, and help this list grow with the millions of ways libraries benefit our communities.

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My 2016 Year in Books Survey

The 7th annual End-of-Year Book Survey is hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner. (I love that blog name!) The questions made me curious, so I figured I would share my results with all of you. 2016 Reading Stats Number of … Continue reading

Quick Tip to Read More in the New Year!

Ah, that lovely time of year when we are all so motivated and pure. If you’re like me, you probably have been setting a hefty reading goal for yourself every year. Maybe you lowballed your goal once and read some impossible percentage of books. Good for you. Or maybe, you failed horribly (goal-wise, at least) and read far less than you wanted to.

For those of you who are sticking with the goals this year, here’s a quick little tip for reading a LOT more this year: read before bed. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of reading, do it.

I’d personally recommend you opt for a real, physical book for this method. Yes, those still exist. For one, this is the perfect way to unwind, de-stress, and relax before bed. There are no bright phone or computer screens messing with your brain’s ability to fall asleep; it’s just you and a story. And then plus number two is that this is extra reading time you don’t need to schedule! You have absolutely no excuses! And this extra reading = more books read this year. Score!

Perhaps this tip is fairly obvious to you, but some people just have not given it a try. Do it! You’ll love it! (But maybe stay away from the Stephen King books, at least at night. Just a suggestion.)

While we’re on the topic of resolutions, I’ll let you know what my “hefty reading goal” is for the year: 75 books. I know, breathe in, breathe out. That’s a lot. For the average person, that’s probably a lifetime of books. But I think I’m up for the challenge this year. *suits up for the ultimate reading battle*

So tell me, what are YOUR reading goals this year? Are you setting one on Goodreads, or foregoing that altogether?  Let me know in the comments below!

4 Tips for Reading Books Faster!

So many books, so little time. It’s the phrase that runs through readers’ heads as they stare, er, glare down their overflowing TBR piles. How are you supposed to read all of those AND the books you want to read AND the books other people are going to ask you to read AND still have a life? While I can’t give you any scientific tips on how to make your eyes move back and forth faster (that’s just weird), I can give you some tips on making sure you finish those books so you can keep on moving.

  1. Read in a distraction-free environment

If you’re distracted while you’re reading, it’s going to take you longer to finish the book. Or, even if you keep reading, your mind is going to be drifting off to the quesadillas that await you at dinner tonight and not your characters who oh-so-desperately want your attention. If you’re reading at home, turn everything off so you can keep your attention at 100. That’s right; turn off those phones, tablets, computers, everything. Can’t do that? Flip your phone over so you can’t see the push notification light and make sure the sound is off. Those things drive me insane if I don’t respond to them. If your home is too loud and distracting, move to the library or the park, where it will be quiet and you can focus on the task at hand. Bonus points if you go to the library and return only with the book you’re reading.

2. Try audiobooks

This point could go both ways. For me, audiobooks are longer than the amount of time it would take me to read a book in one sitting. However, audiobooks allow you to read at times that normally aren’t times you can read, such as in a long car ride, train ride, or walking around town. Just put in your headphones (unless you are driving; I know some people listen to audiobooks while they drive, but honestly I think it’s safer keep your eyes and ears on the road. Stories can be immersive.) and listen to a book of your choice. You can actually get audiobooks free through your local library, both in physical CD form or in digital format that you can download such as through Overdrive. Ask your librarian about such services!

3. Read books you WANT to read

The fact is, if you don’t like the book you’re reading, you’re probably not going to schedule your life around finishing it as quickly as possible. If there’s a list of books you need to read for school, try and alternate so you can fit in books you want to read as well to prevent getting into a reading slump and thinking of all reading as boring.

4. Read shorter books

The trick that works for readathons also works for your year-long reading goals! If you’re trying to read a large amount of books, Infinite Jest may not be the one you want to choose right now. (Unless your goal is to read it, then of course, read Infinite Jest.)

Comic books work too, especially as in-between books like I described in point 3.

However, I’d say that as far as reading goes, quality trumps quantity. It’s not about who read the most books in a month or year or how fast they read them, it’s about reading good books and enjoying them. Of course, setting a goal for the year can be motivating too. So have fun, go read and of course, let me know when you finish your Goodreads reading challenges!