More Reasons Why Libraries Are the Heart and Soul of Local Communities

As if libraries don’t already offer great resources to their local communities – books, audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, toys, puzzles, games, computer terminals with internet access, reference librarians, children’s programs, sponsor 5K runs; the list goes on and on.

And then just today I just read a story about a library that has a “tiebrary”; a collection of ties that people could borrow for up to three weeks. The ties are mainly geared towards those who have an upcoming job interview, but it seems as if there’s nothing to stop people from using the ties to attend a prom or other special event.

The New York Public Library Grow Up program at the Riverside branch which is modeled on similar initiatives in Philadelphia and Queens, also lends out briefcases and purses in addition to ties.

The Paschalville Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia also offers one-on-one career help from Niema Nelson, the branch’s resource specialist who runs the Job Readiness Lab. “We offer extended hours on the computer for job-related activities,” says Nelson. She assists patrons with looking for jobs, writing resumes and cover letters, and enrolling in adult basic education classes, like pre-GED or ESL. Nelson also compiles job listings for individuals “so they have a jumping off point to start looking for jobs.” The library will print out two copies of your resume on linen paper for free, and also offers faxing, scanning, copy machine access, and flash drives for sale. The library has also had job fairs which led to employment for many in the neighborhood, which has high rates of poverty, unemployment, and ‘returning citizens’—ex-offenders recently released from prison.

The ties at the Queens libraries come in boxes complete with illustrated instructions on how to tie a standard half-Windsor knot, as well as a list of interview tips. They can be borrowed for 21 days or even worn inside the library for customers doing a Skype or video interview. The library also has a Business and Job Academy that offers a number of other career services, including job search and resume help, computer and technology classes, assisting with business proposals as well as training people to work in fields like security or home healthcare.

And with a little bit more searching, I found there’s more that libraries offer.

In Chicago, libraries have lent out the following: ukeleles, seeds (just bring back seeds from what you’ve grown), fishing poles, GoPro cameras, sewing machines, cake pans, tripods, kilowatt meters, and American Girl dolls.

And at the Licking County Library in Ohio there’s a collection of guitars for borrowing.

So it doesn’t appear that libraries are going away any time soon, despite all the advances in technology and digital books. In fact, they may have become even more relevant.

Libraries offer a great place for sharing and acquiring knowledge, for building community, and for building lives.

#LongLiveLibraries

*photo of the Early Childhood Reading Center at Queens Library, Children’s Library Discovery Center, Jamaica Branch

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