Get up and go! It’s time to give a shit. Now that warmer weather is approaching (in the US at least), let’s take a brisk walk to our closest library and put in the smallest effort to preserve probably one of the best things in your town! One of the best things in the world, really, when it comes to public institutions.
So many libraries are not just places to check out books, but they also provide research information, computers and the internet, music and movies, art, children’s reading time and activities, adult classes and lectures, and even just a comfortable place for solitude. Not all of them will have all of those features, but they’ll all have books and they’ll all have librarians.
When I was a kid it was my favorite place to go. I’d beg my mom to take me, which she would dread because I’d spend so much time there, searching through the books. And then I’d check out so many that both mom and the librarian would chuckle at my little stack, bigger than my always-tiny presence. But we all knew I’d be back the very next week. Since I haven’t done that in years, I’m going to join y’all on this library journey set forth below. Pick any or all activity and get on your way to your closest or favorite branch.
Get a Library Card
It’s so easy! Show them you want them to exist and register as a proud library member. In some places you just need to sign up, though some libraries would like proof that you live nearby, so bring a piece of mail and your ID. If ever the government went and did a nice thing, it was public libraries.
Browse the Collections
Some libraries have special collections or exhibits in addition to the regular set of books you can check out. My library has a special prints division, with a huge collection of prints ancient and contemporary. You can only see it by appointment but it’s worth it!
Get Your Reference On
Usually you can’t check out reference books. On this day in 1828, Noah Webster copyrighted the 1st edition of his dictionary. As archaic as they may seem, physical dictionaries really a good thing to be able to consult sometimes! If you don’t own one yourself, you should get one for your personal library. I think you’d be surprised how many words you may gloss over while reading, assuming what it means. I sure was when I started to write them down!
Check Out A Book
MAKE SURE YOU RETURN IT. We are trying to help, not steal!
Find an Events List
My local library doesn’t have many events, but I have gone to some very memorable ones. I’ve seen traditional Incan dance from a troupe during a heritage celebration event. Find yourself a nice or adorable one and bond with your neighbors!
Reading is fundamental, youse guys. You should have some books of your own. Libraries often have big sales of books they’re taking out of circulation, donated books they don’t need, or duplicates. It’s a great way to bulk up your reading material for very little money. My current local library prices books by type, but my library growing up would let you fill a bag for just a few dollars.
… Just One More Thing
Local libraries are so important, but having reading material at home can start with a personal library too and has shown to dramatically improve children’s learning ability and future grades! If you or a friend or relative has a newborn child, or any child under the age of about 12, probably, there are quite a few places that you can sign up to receive FREE books for them by mail. For real! Good books chosen by organizations committed to literacy. Please check them out!
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is our favorite. She started the program to send books monthly to children under the age of 5 in her home county in Tennessee. Now there are chapters all over the United States, and some in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
- The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy sends books monthly to children under the age of 5 in participating communities in Georgia, Florida, and Montana.
- PJ Library is for Jewish children from 6 months to 6 years old, and older in many communities, up to age 11. They send monthly books appropriate for Jewish families of all kinds.