10 Ways Big and Small You Can Love Your Local Library
It’s National Library Week, when we as Americans salute one of our most important institutions and the passionate people who work at them. And while your taxes do support libraries, they need your help to thrive and continue their mission of spreading the love of the written word to all.
Not sure how to get involved? Here are 10 ways big and small that you can show your support for your local library, both this week and all year long!
Ocean Park Branch Library, Santa Monica, California, 2011
1. Spread the Word
Do you love your local library? Do you know the perfect place to cozy up with a book where the light streams in just so? Do you have a librarian who helped you find just the book you were looking for? Don’t keep these gems to yourself! Snap a photo of your library and share it with your social networks. You never know who you might inspire to become the next big supporter of libraries.
2. Take a Child to the Library
I still remember “Library Day” from when I was growing up. Mom would pile all three of us into the car and shuttle us to our local library. We’d return our finished books, check out a stack of new ones, and if we were lucky, attend a story time event. I didn’t know it then but my mom was giving me two great gifts: a love of reading and a love of libraries.
One of the most important things you can do to support libraries long term is teach the next generation about why they are so special–and the wonderful worlds hiding inside their stacks. Take a child in your life to the library.
Library built by ex-slaves, Allensworth, California, 1995
3. Roll Up Your Sleeves
Most public libraries have a local organization dedicated to supporting them. Find your Friends of the Library group and get involved in their calendar of programs. From reading to seniors to helping with fundraisers, donating your time is a great way to give back to your local library.
4. Donate Your Books
When it’s time to clear out your shelves to make room for new books, contact your local library and see if they’d be interested in your books. Just think–that book you loved will go on to inspire many more people in the next phase of its life. Plus, your donation is tax deductible so save that receipt!
An abandoned library in the deserted town of Jeffrey City, Wyoming, 2012
5. Donate Your Skills
Do you know how to code? Are you a brilliant digital marketer? Maybe you are well-connected locally and good with a press release. Your professional skills could be a great help to your local library. Connect with your local Friends of the Library group and offer to donate your professional expertise.
6. Donate Your Dollars
Most libraries are qualified charities because they are nonprofit educational institutions. When planning your donations to charities for the year, consider including your local library. It’s a gift that empowers many for years to come. And don’t forget that you can double your donation by taking advantage of corporate matching programs.
After Hurricane Sandy, Queens Library bookmobile, the Rockaways, Queens, New York, 2012
7. Vote for Libraries
It’s important to vote in local elections. Educate yourself on local legislation and make sure you’re supporting measures that will be good for your library. And when crucial bills are up for a vote, volunteer to help get petitions signed and call people to get out the vote.
8. Thank a Librarian
Librarians do important work and they deserve our thanks. Surprise the staff at your local library with homemade cookies and a heartfelt thank-you note. Or send fresh flowers to be displayed in the lobby.
A. B. Safford Memorial Library, Cairo, Illinois, 2012
9. Write for Libraries
The pen has always been mightier than the sword. If you’re a gifted writer, use your natural talent to advocate for libraries. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, sharing the positive impact your library has had on the community. Send a letter to your state and local legislators about why libraries matter and encourage them to support libraries. You can even write a Yelp review for your local library, making sure that all of their listing information is factual and complete and extolling the programs, resources, and benefits of the library.
10. Get a Library Card (and Wear It Out)
This one is just good sense–and it’s good for the library too. Save yourself money by getting a library card and then using it regularly. Libraries demonstrate their value to local communities and governments with their active membership rates. Get a card for yourself and make sure all the readers in your household have one too. When new neighbors move in, stop by with a basket of goodies and a quick recommendation on where your local library is.
Abandoned library, Sunflower, Mississippi, 2011
Love the gorgeous photos of libraries featured in this post? Check out The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson from Princeton Architectural Press.
Featured image: Reading room, Central Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2011
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