As kids, many of us learn that a library is a magical place, a safe place, even a healthy way to escape from reality or bullies. You could forage for books, bring them home for free, and exchange them for new ones. During the pandemic, libraries found different ways to help the community, adapting to the changing world by expanding resources, in person and virtually.
These establishments are essential to our lives as readers and writers, and libraries extend far beyond the four walls of a building!
Here are some ways you can champion your local library during 2021’s National Library Week (April 4-10)—and throughout the entire year!
1. Visit your library [virtually or in person]
It might seem obvious, but whether you’re visiting in person or virtually, libraries offer the opportunity to explore new worlds through access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programs. Take time to connect with your library during National Library Week to see all they have to offer.
2. Become a donating member of your local library
Support your local library by becoming a supporting member. A supporting member helps a library by donating monthly or yearly. This allows the library to stay open and offer their free services to the public. Some libraries have different types of memberships, depending on how much you are able to give. It truly makes a difference and is a great way to thank your community.
3. Participate in the #MyLibraryIs promotion on social media
Celebrate National Library Week 2021 by sharing what you love about the resources and services available at your library. Post to Instagram, Twitter, or on the I Love Libraries Facebook page, about an e-book, audiobook, virtual storytime or bookclub, or how your library has made a difference while you’ve been social distancing at home. Use the hashtag #MyLibraryIs and tag your favorite library!
4. Show up to vote.
Paying attention to local politics is important; a new law or decision could affect your library, both positively and negatively. It is important to show up on their behalf and vote.
5. Volunteer at the library
It is a lot of work to shelve books, notify patrons of holds, and help others find what they need. Working in the stacks can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Check out your local library’s website or ask a librarian in person if they’re looking for volunteers and how to apply. Virtually, you could offer writing, editing, or web design services.
6. Start a book club from your libraries’ community
Get to know your library community and make friends. An easy way to do this is to join a book club. Check out the libraries nearest to you to see if they have any book clubs—some might be genre or age-specific. If they don’t have one for you, talk to a librarian and see if you can start your own!
7. Tag the library on social
Libraries are a hotspot for Bookstagrammers. Find a unique nook in your library, or pile up some beautiful books, take a photo, and tag your library. Plus, who doesn’t love a good book picture?
8. Donate books
A library can never have too many books. Instead of throwing out your old reads or giving them to Goodwill, consider donating them to your library. It not only helps support them but gives other people the chance to read new books. You never know who might be inspired by one of your old stories.
9. Shop at library book sales
A few times a year, some libraries will have a big book sale with proceeds going to the library. You’ll find a huge selection of books that were either donated or pulled from circulation for various reasons. They won’t be in the best shape—some may still be stickered with spine labels and ID tags—but they’ll be full of love (not to mention dirt cheap). The money goes directly back to the library to purchase new items.
10. Become a “Friend” of the Library
We all love our libraries and probably already consider ourselves pretty “friendly” with them, but Friends of the Library groups are a bit different. These nonprofit organizations organize fundraising events, coordinate volunteers, and advocate on behalf of the library. Some require annual dues or donations, and while these funds don’t go directly to the library, they pay for the services provided by Friends of the Library. You can learn more about these groups (including how to start your own) at United for Libraries, division of the American Library Association.