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Do You Wonder Where Libraries Come From?

Have you ever wondered where libraries come from? As a child I thought they sprang up intact in every community. Later, I presumed they were a gift from taxes. Two weeks ago, I learned where libraries really come from. I attended the American Library Association annual conference in Washington DC. It was a hive of busy-ness I never knew existed. All of it is for you.

Two huge conference auditoriums are necessary for the event. One side hosted day long classes and authors. The other side was a full floor of every item in a library. As well as technologies for libraries. Plus, purchasable structures for libraries of the future. Yes, I am talking about vending machine libraries. I wonder what Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson think of that?

Target Audience? You

For four days and evenings, librarians, teachers, vendors, and authors converged on Washington DC, to connect and create the most effective libraries in their local areas. At each book booth, librarians were able to discuss, arrange and acquire books and publications for their needs. I spoke with Beverly Brown and Christina Norman, from Birmingham Alabama, about the books they had chosen, as they packed their hoard of publications Tetris-style into suitcases and shipping boxes.

Some will go on shelves, others we use as prizes for reading programs or gifts. Still others go to fundraiser baskets and give aways. - Christina Sheperd-Norman

They weren't the only ones selecting and acquiring. Every night when I walked back to my hotel, I passed groups of librarians laden with bags for their own libraries. More-over, the multi-block long line for shipping was a testament to the love librarians have for all of us. Reading is like breathing, we all need it.

A Space for Everyone

Beyond the books, the furniture, and the vending machines, another library story was on display. Unless you look for it, you may not see it. Libraries are for everyone. All along the conference floor were multiple displays and stations to guide attendees about online tools like Google Drive and ways that librarians can help patrons who use their computers.

There were also sections devoted to library displays and interactions with materials such as graphic novels, which can be mistaken for comic books. Or hands on activities for younger patrons, beyond books and blocks.

ADA resources were also available for librarians to consider adding to their collections, whether is was audible opportunities, or Tactile Images for the blind or nearly sightless. And the cutest of all, comfort bunnies through Peace Bunny Island, this fluffle of bunnies had just returned from Uvalde as a community comfort source.

New Gratitude

Do you love libraries? I know I do. As a girl I remember sitting on the curb waiting for the book mobile, or making bi-weekly visits all summer to pick up a stack of books for the summer reading program. During the pandemic local libraries became the source of relief and hope during the long hours sheltered in place. I marveled at their rapid response to our emotional needs, as they created apps they had never needed and curbside pick-ups and deliveries. This year though, I experienced first-hand how libraries continue to sustain the world. Now it's ....

Your Turn

What do you love about libraries?

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