In times of uncertainty, we may find ourselves wondering if there’s a place where we can all belong. Is there a place that welcomes everyone unconditionally and equips each person with the knowledge and confidence to thrive? Does such a place exist that has something of interest for everyone?
There is such a place, and it’s your local library!
Pennsylvania’s libraries reflect the unique needs of their communities by creating welcoming spaces for everyone. Libraries are both physical and virtual spaces in which to be and to interact with others. Not only do they freely offer essential resources and services, but libraries are critical in leveling the playing field so that everyone has an equitable opportunity for self-empowerment at any age or stage. Libraries provide access to a wide range of services that encourage opportunities for experiential learning, inquiry, and experimentation.
April is a very special month for libraries! A variety of recognition activities and events are coordinated annually in April to celebrate public, academic, school, and special libraries. For example, National Library Week is April 19-25, and the theme is “Find Your Place at the Library.” Although this theme was chosen before the emergence of the global coronavirus pandemic, you can still find your place online at your local library, as many offer virtual access to content, services, and activities.
Here are a few ways library visitors of all ages can celebrate their favorite library or librarian during April:
1. Show your support on social media. The American Library Association encourages you to share stories about how libraries are continuing to make a difference in their communities during the current health crisis through virtual programs and services – share your story using the hashtag #LibrariesStrong.
2. Explore your library’s digital collections. You don’t have to physically visit your library to use many of its resources. Check out e-book and e-audio collections for reading and listening on-the-go. Take online classes and use test prep and career readiness online resources. Explore the vast world of POWER Library, a collection of free online resources for all Pennsylvania residents.
3. Thank a librarian. On April 21, thank a librarian who has made a difference in your life. Nominate a stellar librarian or library employee.
4. Check out all the great resources your library has to offer. Although Pennsylvania’s library facilities are not currently open to the public due to COVID-19, many are open online! Remember, there will still be an amazing variety of educational and recreational resources for visitors when they do re-open their doors. Many libraries provide access to the internet, computers, genealogy collections, reference services, engaging programs for all ages, and some offer a variety of unique and exclusive items that can be borrowed, including museum passes, power tools, and musical instruments. School libraries are also great places for research assistance, career path development, and STEM learning.
Library collections serve as both mirrors and windows by reflecting their unique communities and providing a view into the multitude of perspectives and values of their users. In this world of infinite possibilities, anyone can find a path to the future by starting at the library.