Hanging Out at the Library!

Hanging Out at the Library!

By Betty Trummel

Are you missing opportunities to hang out at your local library due to the pandemic?  Many libraries have been closed for months, but working hard to offer books and many other resources to their patrons.  In a recent Zoom chat with my library book group, we had a great discussion about WHY people hang out at libraries AND what libraries have to offer us.  I hadn’t thought much about this in a while, so this conversation was extremely interesting. 

A library can provide a safe, quiet space.  Unless you are a totally unruly customer, you’re not likely to be kicked out…you can “loiter” for hours in a place with a myriad of resources at your fingertips.  For some it might even be a refuge from the cold (or heat) and inclement weather.  A library is a place for an inquisitive mind, a venue for learning, a point for inspiration and motivation.  It’s relaxing, or exhilarating, maybe both at the same time!  It’s a location for all ages, from infants to centenarians. 

I know how much I’m missing my local library at the moment.  It’s the coolest place.  The Brooks Free Library was the first free public library in Harwich, established in 1880 and has been operated by the town of Harwich since 1910.  Great care has been taken with upkeep of this historic building and its collections inside.  They’ve done a fabulous job of keeping things going since March when they had to close their doors to the public and adapt to new ways to distribute their materials.

In doing some research on other libraries, I found two amazing resources that I wanted to share with you.  The first is the Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS), located in Anchorage.  ARLIS offers many services but one of the most unique is their loan of hundreds of furs and skulls, and about 50 bird mounts…talk about learning first-hand about Alaska’s wildlife!  Check out:  https://www.arlis.org to learn more! Just browsing their website will lead to acquiring facts and information!  And, as an educator, I can’t imagine checking out a set of moose antlers, an animal fur, or skull to share with my class…if only I was teaching in Alaska!

How many of you know that YOUR library, The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is the biggest library in the world? https://www.loc.gov/ It houses 160 million items, has 70 specific collections, 15 million prints and photographs to start with.  In addition, it is home to:

  • 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, and 5,000 globes
  • Its geography and map collections include Lewis and Clark’s maps, artifacts and cartographic evidence over time
  • A music collection that has 24 million items including sheet music (both original and printed), instruments and recordings
  • A rare books and special collections area that has over 800,000 items including the Gutenberg Bible, Thomas Jefferson’s library, and Medieval manuscripts
  • The Serial and Government Publications collections that include 800,000 rolls of microfilm, 7.2 million loose issues of newspapers, 42,000 volumes of bound newspaper pages, and 140,000 issues of comic books!

Remember, this is YOUR library as a U.S. citizen!  It’s a library that is SO much more than just books!  As we continue battling this pandemic, these resources can keep us learning, and can help us stay connected with the world. 

How can you connect with the public library in your own community or with another great library online?  Don’t forget about the Little Free Libraries that might by in your community, too!

Check out this video on the world’s most magnificent libraries:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeLoyrDqL_A

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