Libraries are more than just books
By: Tracy Fisher
When I tell people I love going to the library, I often get a strange response: “Why? You can get all those books online now.”
It’s true, digital options for books are here to stay, and I really do love having a whole bookcases’ worth on my tablet. But I don’t go the library just for the books. In fact, books are the last reason I go to the library.
The public library system was developed by Benjamin Franklin at the beginning of our country’s history. He gathered together important books and works with other intellectuals and designed a system where the books and their knowledge would be available to the public.
Benjamin Franklin explained, “Our books were often referred to in our disquisitions upon the queries; it might be convenient to us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole.”
From that point on, public libraries were a place to host knowledge in all forms. In today’s world of fast-paced information, constantly changing technologies, and an ever-growing population, libraries have evolved to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
Libraries are often the first place the everyday person can get his or her hands on the newest technology. Libraries have the ability to get access for their communities that a singular person doesn’t have. Libraries in large cities even provide time on 3D printers or allow patrons to check out sewing machines!
Local libraries have computer access with high-speed internet (including Wi-Fi if you bring your own device). They also have DVDs, audiobooks, and video games you can borrow.
Libraries give people of all ages an opportunity to learn. Our libraries offer dozens of storytimes, crafts, parties, clubs, and shows for our children. There is an activity for every interest a child would want to explore. Some of our favorites are the LEGO clubs that spark interest in engineering, and the infant and parent story times that give kids a jumpstart into their love of literacy.
Adults can expand their minds at the library, too. There are family history classes, exercise groups, technology instruction, and more! The library sets up events with experts in every field imaginable, and offers lectures, classes, and book readings — all for free! Most classes are also offered at many different times and locations to accommodate schedules and transportation difficulties.
Libraries are there to serve their communities and the specific needs of that community. Roanoke libraries (as well as the local libraries of the surrounding areas) offer family entertainment events like free movies, musical and theater performances, and holiday parties.
Along with providing great events, libraries are a free meeting place for community groups like book clubs, tutors, small businesses, and student study groups.
I love going to the library. I know I’ll be helped by people who are excited about learning and are knowledgeable about every topic under the sun. The books are just the cherry on top.