Then there’s the group that uses the library on occasion. They may forget about the library until they really need it, say, for a research project for school. They might like the library quite a lot, but it’s not high up in their list of places to go, and so it simply drops down into one of those “someday I’ll go” or “I haven’t been there for a long while” places.
And there is the third group, which I fall into. These are the people that love the library. That knows it’s not just a destination to rent books, but SO. MUCH. MORE. I’m lucky to work at a fantastic library. I get to be there and get PAID for it.
This post isn’t meant to convert group 1 or 2 into group 3. It’s simply meant to share why I, a library-lover, feel the way I do. If you already know these things, you’ll find yourself nodding along as you read. If you didn’t realize some of the things I’ll share, then great! Perhaps you’ll find yourself going more frequently to your own library.
So this is why, I love my library. (Note- check with your own for specifics. Some of these services and perks may or may not be available at every library, but there may be different or even better things!)
- Books. Yes, books must top this list. Books are the raison d’être of libraries. Pick a genre, any genre. YA? Youth? Non-Fiction? Romance? Suspense? Check, check, check, and on and on. You want books about dealing with a family member’s addiction? Books about how to bake a cake? Books about how to build a bird house? Books about how to fix your car? Books about World War 2? Books about Marilyn Monroe? Books about dogs? You want to read Harry Potter? Poetry? Westerns? Erotica? Thrillers? There is something for everyone.
- AV materials. Not only are there books, but there are DVDs, CDs, Audiobooks. There’s children’s CDs, soundtracks, musicals. There’s rap, folk, blues. There’s Non-Fiction DVDS, documentaries, the latest comedies and blockbuster hits or busts. You can find audiobooks galore, from the best memoirs (sometimes, often, read by the authors themselves), to genre fiction. Again, something for everyone.
- Magazines & Newspapers: We house ours in the same room at my library. There’s magazines from A to Z. Antiques to Zoos. I love magazines (InStyle and The Writer are my favorites) but I don’t get subscriptions for myself. I just check a few out from the library when the mood strikes. We get at least fifty magazines, as well as plenty of newspapers. And when they go into storage they are copied for the next point-
- Microfilm. I’ve never actually used this. But you see it in movies all the time, when someone wants to research something. Not sure how to get started? All you need to do is ask a friendly librarian. Which then brings me to point 5.
- Research: You can actually book a librarian at my library. FOR FREE. If you need help with a project, that’s why they are there. You can also call your library with questions. Need an address? Can’t find a title of something? Give them a call. We actually have people call all the time with random, interesting questions. What city in the US gets the most rain? (I don’t know, but someone called about that recently).
- Community Events: Not only are there regular events that are held weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, such as our regular knitting class, writers group, or when service dogs are brought in to play with the kids (dogs, people, cute dogs!), but there’s special events like author workshops, visits. Amy Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Elizabeth Berg (read my post about that here), for example. My library has a calendar of events on their website, and posted throughout the building. I bet yours does, too!
- Youth Department: I mentioned a few things the youth department offers already, but let me add some of the best things besides books, AV materials, and magazines: there is a whole area with TOYS. Besides toys your kids can play with at the library, there’s a legit toy closet with toys you can check out! They are fun, educational toys like puzzles, wooden blocks, and magnifying glasses with real bugs. There’s also a Wii, games, computers, flannel stories, and oversized books. Plus, a cozy reading nook, dress-up clothes, and more.
- Computer use: A lot of people don’t have the luxury of a home computer. Some of the people that come in every day to use our computers are looking for jobs. Some of them check email or Facebook. Some of them play games. The reason for use doesn’t really matter, what matters is these people are getting access to computers for free where otherwise they couldn’t. They can also print for a small fee. The first few pages are free, and then its a just cents per page.
- New Section: As much as I love browsing the tried and true (fiction) section (mostly), I also love to check out the front/side section where we have all the new releases, broken into sections. There’s brand, spanking new suspense, thriller, science fiction, romance, fiction, audiobooks, and non-fiction. That means you have a good chance of finding brand new, as well as nearly new. Think all the popular books you hear about in magazines, and book clubs, and book lists. And if you can’t find the book or whatever, you’re looking for, simply put it on hold and as soon as it’s in, you can come pick it up!
- Holds: I mentioned holds just now, and I want to bring it up again. If you’re a busy person, or just generally short on time, or carting a load of children with you, you might just find it easier to have your items ready for you when you get there. So, instead of browsing, perhaps you’ll find the convenience of holds pick-up more suited to your needs. It’s easy to get on the library website and find the items you need in the catalog. Then you just enter your library card number and password, and with a click of “place hold” the item is on its way to being yours. As soon as there’s a fun new movie release coming, or a book I’ve been hearing about for weeks, I get my hold in, so that I can be one of the first to get it. Try it, or ask for help from someone at your service desk.
- Miscellaneous: There’s a few things I want to squeeze in this point. Did you know, if you have a book club you may be able to ask for book club kits? That means you don’t have to buy books every month (or whenever you meet) but instead have a bunch placed on hold for your entire group? We also have meeting spaces and board rooms so if you have a group, for a small fee or sometimes free, you can use library space to hold your clubs, meetings, and get togethers.
- Book Sale: A couple of times a year there’s a big book sale. The library decides which books and materials should be withdrawn, and then discounts them greatly. You can pick up amazing titles for as little as .25! Bonus: As an employee I often get first dibs at withdrawn material. I have become the happy owner of several gently worn books, and movies since beginning my employment there, for a very reasonable price!
The truth is, despite working at a library for over two years now, I am sure I still missed a bunch of things. In fact, if any of my co-workers are reading this, they’re probably like DUH, AMANDA, WHAT ABOUT ____? However, that just shows you how very many things there are to love about the library. So many that I probably forgot some.
What do I do there? Among other things, I get to process all the shiny new books and material that comes in. I’m one of the first people to even touch them. I’m the one that puts on stickers, spine tape, and date stamps. I get to fix the broken stuff, so I’m technically a book doctor (how cool is that?). I’m also part of a library design committee, as we’re in the early stages of a first floor redesign.
In addition, I’m lucky to be a published author whose books are IN the library. I talked a little about that proces here. If you are an author and can get your book into your local library, it will help you gain readers. The last time I asked a couple weeks ago, my first book had circulated 77 times in my library in about a year. That’s great! That means I had 77 readers (assuming all of them read it), and who knows how many of them told their friends or family about my book, may follow me on social media now, and may potentially purchase more of my books in future.
Public libraries are a goldmine of knowledge. They can also be wonderful places to relax. Curl up with a good book. Read. If you’re ever unsure of how to find something, just ask! Sometimes the non-fiction section can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with call numbers. Take your time, and you’ll figure it out. My favorite section ever? 398.2, or the fairytales (see this post for more on that) Second favorite besides Fiction? Definitely movies. I bet there’s something for everyone to love at your library. You just need to go to find out.
Thanks, libraries, and librarians, for all that you do. My bookshelf would be emptier, my TBR list shorter, and my life definitely less sweet without you.