So Many Reasons to Love Your Local Library

I got my first library card at the age of five, when I was in kindergarten. Still remember the excitement at seeing rows and rows of books, and the smell of the place, sweet with the aroma of old paper and ink.

And the fact that I could borrow a bunch of books at once? Pure joy. All that knowledge, free for the taking.

Libraries today offer much more than books. I think it’s sad that many don’t know about these new services. Libraries, and the librarians who work at them, deserve our respect for the myriad programs and events they run every year.

What do I love about my local library? Here’s a starter list:

  • Free books. Of course we begin with the obvious. You don’t have to be rich to be well-read. If you’re “off” paper, you can check out e-books from your phone, tablet, or computer.
  • A whole lotta other free stuff. Most libraries offer a variety of media. Movie and TV program DVDs, magazines, and music. Tickets to local museums. Some even let you check out cake tins, in all sorts of fun shapes, and hiking equipment.
  • Tax preparation services. Many branches bring in tax professionals during filing season to help patrons with tax preparation.
  • Job hunting services. In partnership with AZ@Work, Chandler offers help with resume preparation, career change, and job hunting.
  • Teen events. Bored teenager? Check out your local branch for everything from science experiments to D&D and Minecraft events to craft activities and book clubs appropriate to their age group.
  • Activities for the littler ones. Remember reading hour at the library? Today, there’s so much more. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities for kids of all ages are the rage. There are even special programs to help kids get ready for preschool and kindergarten.
  • Art shows and music events. Last year, my local branch brought in a dozen artists for an art show and Q&A session. They also do walking art tours downtown and sponsor concerts by local musicians.
  • Book clubs. There’s no better place to have one. Many offer multiple book clubs, by age range or genre.
  • Writing groups. Libraries often have separate groups for adults and teens. The library system in Mesa, a town over from mine, sponsors a Writer in Residence Program, where a published author holds classes about craft and offers writing consultations to help aspiring authors fine tune their work.
  • Movie subscriptions. Many libraries offer a free subscription to Kanopy, which lets patrons watch six indie, classic, and documentary movies a month.
  • Creative projects. Again, for all ages. This year, because of Covid, they’re offering grab-and-go projects that you can pick up and complete on your own time.
  • Every type of class under the sun. Interested in getting your GED? There’s a class for that. Want to brush up on your English skills? There’s a class for that, too. Becoming an American citizen and need to prep for the test? Ditto. Computer classes? Check. Gardening classes? You bet. Basic computer classes? Yep, plenty of those. And libraries often bring in local authors to talk about their latest books and help aspiring authors hone their craft.

Finally, in the age of COVID, libraries are stepping up to provide additional services to students. In my town, they’ve risen to the challenge, as always, and transitioned nearly every class and event to online.

February is #LibraryLoversMonth. Check out your local library, and then spread the love.