Why I Love Libraries: Celebrate National Library Week

It’s National Library Week!  As a librarian, of course I am going to encourage everyone to visit their library this week and share the love with friends and family.   The American Library Association is also recognizing several other areas of librarianship during the week with special events:

Follow on Twitter at #nlw12

Join the conversation on Facebook with atyourlibrary.org

Aside from loving books, reading, stories, the written word, and being a librarian, etc., I would not be able to call myself a bibliophile without being a library patron.  Many would argue I’m a bibliomaniac, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as someone with an extreme preoccupation of collecting or admiring books. Yep, that sounds like me.

When I tell people I am a librarian and I went to graduate school to become a librarian, I often get that inquisitive look back with the question, “what did you learn?” or “I don’t read” or “I haven’t been the library in years.”

If you haven’t been to a library in years, months, weeks, days, hours, go and take a 30 minute visit this week!  Not only are you positively supporting your city services and seeing your tax dollars be used for great use, you are telling the world that libraries matter!  It is more than just a building with books.  You say you don’t read but do you watch movies?  Check out a DVD for free.  Are you doing genealogy research about your family?   Talk to the reference librarian for better resources than just Google and learn how to effectively use Ancestry.com.  Many libraries even have subscriptions to sites like Ancestry.com that you can access with your library card.  Do you have children and want to help them make friends or find activities other than homework?  Bring them to storytimes, playtimes, craft sessions, video gaming programs and more for free.

The library is also a place that is no longer managed by the stuffy, old, grumpy lady with her hair in a bun and ugly shoes and glasses.  That’s quite a bit of negative adjectives to describe such a person, and it’s unfortunate so many people still associate the library with this image.  Most likely, it’s because of a bad experience they had while in school and so never went back to the place.  So you say, you don’t read and haven’t been to a library in years.  Could it be because you were one of these kids?  Hopefully most of the libraries in your area have moved to a friendlier, warmer, and more inviting atmosphere with librarians who know their ‘stuff’ and have a passion for helping people embrace their inner bibliophile.  It probably wouldn’t hurt if they have really cool glasses and trendy shoes.

Why do I love libraries?  I love to read. I love to explore.  For bibliophiles like myself, I love going to the library and just wander through the non-fiction stacks looking at the titles.   Dewey Decimal is a great invention because it organizes subjects according to interest.  Yes, libraries still use Dewey Decimal, mostly for non-fiction, and I hope they continue with this grand tradition because it works!  If I had a dog, I would probably name him Dewey.  I absolutely love the wander, it helps me dig deeper into topics I may have thought about but never really explored.  In fiction, the wander is a little tougher for me because I want to read everything on the shelves so I tend to get lost.

Why do I love libraries?  I love to bring my laptop and surf the internet, perhaps do some writing or reading in a completely different environment than the coffee shop or my living room.  It’s quiet, but not annoyingly silent, with just enough distractions.  People are usually friendly and I have unofficially joined the ‘reading room newspaper’ club at my local library.

Why do I love libraries?  I love that such a simple concept became such a unique place in our world where you are granted permission based on the honor system to borrow books, movies, music, and the internet.

Why do I love libraries?  I love that my local library is a place only 5-10 minutes from my house.  I love that I can ride my bike there or drive.  I love that it is the best way I can ‘go local’ in every sense of the word.

Why do I love libraries?  Somehow it became trendy, popular, and cool to be a nerd.  I love libraries because I can embrace my inner nerd.  I can admit to reading the encyclopedia at home when I was a kid because I had read everything else we owned.  I think we are all nerds at some point in our lives and the library is the best place where we can all just be ourselves with no judgements and no apologies for what we enjoy.

Check out this site for even more information on why people around the country love libraries. 

Embrace your inner bibliophile.  Embrace your inner nerd.  Embrace what makes you YOU and check out your local library this week.   Help celebrate National Library Week with one small visit, and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  I would love to hear why you love libraries in the comments!

Advertisements

Recap: Community Outreach Events

I had the pleasure over the past month to take part in two community outreach events through my internship.  What a rewarding and wonderful experience to bring the joy of the library to kids who otherwise may not be able to either visit the library or have access to books and learning outside the classroom.

The groups of kids we visited were both in the local neighborhood, one was in a community clubhouse and the other a school.  All the kids were about 3rd through 5th grade, although I’m sure there were some younger ones too.  What was amazing is that these kids were as my colleague said, “hungry” for books!   They literally attacked the books when it was time to choose new ones to take home.

Both programs were essentially the same format and highly successful.  Attendance is volunteer, so these kids want to be there! The theme was tied in with the summer reading program and began about 4 weeks ago.  While there were new children in attendance, many had been attending each week and were familiar with the flow of the program. Each program began with an educational session in which we interacted with the children about knights, princesses, castles and medieval weapons (to go along with the Midsummer Knights Read theme). Many hands went up when questions were asked and they were excited to hear what the topic for today would be which was court jesters!

There were lots of smiles and wide eyes as a story was read and then the children worked hard on a craft.  There were also crossword puzzles and coloring sheets.  The kids loved all the activities.  For an hour long program, it was packed full of fun.

One of the two groups gets to choose books to take home and return ones they’ve read.  It’s done on an honor system and they were all very respectful of returning the books.  It seems to work similar to a bookmobile model where we bring the books to the kids because there is really no feasible way for them to get to the library.  The community these children live in is essentially an immigrant neighborhood, with lower income families, where there is no bus service and it’s a bit of a long walk, especially in the hot Chicago weather.  To be able to bring to them a “mobile” program each week and feed their strong desire for learning and books is what will keep them hopefully interested in learning throughout their childhood.  It also brings them a positive experience of reading and learning that they may not be getting at home or in school.

When I saw these children run for the books, attack the stacks we had, and search for something particular because they liked a series or a subject it was a event I never saw before!  I loved it!  What was disappointing to me and them was when we didn’t have enough of a subject or the next in a series for example because of the limited resources.  Yet, once I knew what they liked, I could find another book in the piles that would probably appeal, and except for one or two instances, they took it home.  I wanted to make sure these kids, who were so incredibly “hungry” for books to not find one they would like!

I can’t think of a more rewarding experience as a librarian then to see these young people RUN for books and learning opportunities!

Bibliodiversity: Diversity in Books? Books that are Diverse?

I recently discovered a really great podcast called Books on the Nightstand which is a weekly 30 minute discussion on books, hot topics and reader comments.  I love the diversity of the books they discuss and there is always a new idea that has me thinking.  I’ve been catching up on old episodes, and a topic came up called “Bibliodiversity.”  Now this wasn’t an original idea of BOTN, originally a concept from an academic journal.  Yet, I just loved the word and all the possibility behind the meaning.  It really had me thinking and asking questions!

Just what is Bibliodiversity?  Could it be a fancy way to say, “multicultural” literature?  Perhaps. Could it mean the diversity in reading materials such as print and ebooks?  Sure.  Yet, that word diversity, in relation to the huge bibliophile universe could mean any multitude of ideas.  Of course, the English major in me wanted to break down the actual word, taking in the prefix “biblio” and suffix “diversity” and Google them to see what overwhelming internet results would show.  Too much.  Dictionary.com defines the word “biblio” as that ‘used in the formation of compound words with the meaning “book”.’   They define the word “diversity” as ‘ 1. the state or fact of being diverse;  difference; unlikeness.  2. variety; multiformity. 3. a point of difference.’  Now, the possibilities are really endless with this absolutely magical word! I still have no idea how to narrow this concept down!

I suppose I like to think of the word Bibliodiversity as my own concoction of reading tastes in being an eclectic and different mix of genres in books.  Someone else could say it was their own formation of a diverse group of books in unique formats.  Or perhaps taking into account the simplicity of there being just a matter of point of difference, it could mean someone’s collection of French cookbooks but from different regions.

Of course, then I could take those meanings and make it about authors or book covers or even bookmarks! I could literally write a whole book, pun intended.

I love this word. I may need to visit it again.

Spark and Spirit

Old Books taken from Wikimedia Commons

Sparked by the love of books and reading, a spirit for knowledge, and a quest to continually find truth in matters both mundane and controversial, librarians have found themselves at the center of a new world unlike one they have been historically trained to uncover for the people. Guided by a much different principle of service, one that is free of any profit or personal gain, librarians hold a unique desire to give of their skills and knowledge, perhaps a gift to those they serve.

Enthusiasm and excitement are two words that come to mind when I think of my experience in graduate school.  My professors embraced such feelings in a very genuine way and it has certainly influenced my decision to enter the library world.  I hope to become the librarian that acts as a conduit between the world of knowledge and the expanding social world surrounding our everyday lives.  What I remember most about the library as a child is that of the summer reading program and wandering the stacks to find a new book to read.  A self-proclaimed booknerd, I found the library as a place where there was always a new discovery.  As a librarian, I hope to be able to create or influence that same feeling in patrons, one of spark and spirit that engages them in a way they perhaps didn’t know existed and provide my gift of skill and knowledge, enthusiasm and excitement.

Perhaps my goals are idealistic, but I have to believe that we as librarians entered this profession because of an underlying desire to learn and teach in a way that reaches all people of a community.I am so thrilled to enter such a profession where ideals and ethics are valued, where service is for a greater good, and where a librarian can make a difference.