It’s National Library Week—are you ready to celebrate?
In its 57th year, National Library Week celebrates all that libraries are—not just for book nerds, libraries are often the focal point of a community, where people from every kind of background can come together for a common love or a shared purpose.
I’ve written about my love of libraries before—and it’s the rare day you’d venture into my home and not find a library book somewhere, most likely overdue. But books are just part of what makes a library. In fact, the theme for this year’s celebration is, “Libraries Transform.” And that’s a pretty spot on account of what libraries can do. They’re a vital resource, and not just as a repository of free lit for all.
Pew Research just released a Library Users and Learning survey that indicates, not surprisingly, many of us consider ourselves lifelong learners. Community libraries fill a critical need to support that lifelong learning, especially for those with less access to digital resources and learning support—think minorities and those with smaller incomes. And it’s this kind of support, suprisingly, lesser known, that allows everyone the chance to transform—to learn something new at any age, to improve skill sets, to take the next step in progress toward an educational or career goal.
Just in my neck of the woods, the library system offers more than just a copy of the latest bestseller. Sure, we all know libraries have story times for tots, author visits, free movie screenings and fabulous staff that live to help you research, but there’s so much more going on inside those walls. For example…
The Chicago Public Library offers free homework help, collective group opportunities to take online classes such as pre-college English and courses in meditation/stress relief for families.
The Glenview Public Library has Minecraft meetups, ACT prep and classes for investment strategies for retirees.
In Evanston, visitors can check out free career counseling, seek legal help through free consultations and read to a dog.
Wilmette‘s library visitors can partake in one of the areas’ best “One Book, Everybody Reads” programs that brings in Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, join support groups for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes and get assistance with estate planning.
In Highland Park, classes offered include memoir writing and yoga for preschoolers, and there’s a good chance there’s a game of drop-in chess setting up somewhere.
In Northbrook, there are art classes for children with special needs and beginner’s courses for 3-D printing. (P.S. It’s also ’80s month in April—the perfect time to introduce your tween or teen to the full spectrum of John Hughes movies showing all this month.)
And none of this includes the wide array of services you can find at just about any library, from classes and legal forms that help budding entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true to genealogy classes that help people uncover their roots, to music concerts and art classes that foster creative spirits and computer classes that help people land better jobs. And all, almost always, for FREE.
Libraries transform—they are a vital presence in our communities and a priceless resource for its citizens. If you haven’t visited your local library, make a point of going this week. Don’t have a library card? Get one. Browse the stacks. Take a look at the events calendar. Talk to a librarian. Join a group. It’s all there and it’s the best clubhouse you’ll never have to pay a fee to join.
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