As long as I can remember I have been a card carrying member of my public library. Well, when I was a kid it was my parents that had the membership and I just piggybacked off of them.
Some of my fondest memories is going to the library with my mom for the children's summer reading program. I'm sure lots of other libraries around the country had a similar program where you read so many books and you get prizes, plus there are special activities and crafts that correspond with a theme that was carried out through the Summer. (One year the theme was cowboys and I got to have my picture taken standing next to a horse for the newspaper. Funny story, that photographer would go on to be my editor and friend years down the road.)
I don't know what it was about those visits to the library that stayed with me. My Mom was a teacher so we were always doing things in the summer, but the most exciting to me was going to the library and picking out a bunch of books. When I was younger, my Mom would read the books to me, but when I got older I would take them home and read in a chair in my bedroom with the window open and the warm summer breeze blowing in.
It wasn't just the excitement over just the books themselves, it was also over the whole library experience. The smell of the older books. The sound of the soft whispering of my Mom helping me pick out books. The feel of the scratchy carpet on my knees as I knelt down to see the books on the bottom shelf. The look of all the brightly colored spines standing next to each other.
I can remember when we were struggling to get pregnant, how the simplest things would hit me the hardest. For example, one of my jobs from the earliest days while working at the newspaper was to add all the various community events to a calendar that would run in the newspaper. I would see the various storytime and summer reading announcements and I wished so much that I had a child to take to those events so I could pass down my love of them.
Luckily, I did have the opportunity and my kiddo has gone to all of the storytimes and summer reading programs, except for this past year when they did everything remotely because of COVID-19. It was because of this past year and our lockdown situation that made me think more about the library and what role they play in our community. Lots of children wouldn't have access to books without the library. The programs provide an educational safe haven for kids to escape to. So, how do we help our libraries stay afloat?
The simplest way is to get your library card. They are usually free and are easy to get. Even if you don't go to the physical location you will still have access to a lot of ebooks, audiobooks, and videos that you can stream directly to your home.
If you need help finding a library near you it is either a quick Google search or visit the website worldcat.org.
You can help support your local library in other ways by volunteering or even just spreading the word about how amazing they are to your family friends, and neighbors. Just a little can mean a lot to your local library.