Librarians Share How Libraries are Transforming Lives

News | May 20, 2016

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As part of our National Library Week in April, we asked those who entered our giveaway to share how their libraries are transforming lives. While we received hundreds of thoughtful responses from librarians across the United States and Canada, we have chosen to highlight 10 entries here. (Some responses have been abridged.) Thank you for your submissions, and thank you for all you do!

Our library allows kindergarten and first-grade students to have a voice and a choice in the world around them. They enter full of wonder, waiting for the words and illustrations of today’s read-aloud book to carry them on a journey of laughter or discovery. Fueled by the story or facts for the day, they cannot wait to share the pictures, illustrations, information, jokes, or poems with each other ― no quiet library here! As they squirm waiting to check out their latest discoveries, words begin to tumble, newly opened floodgates of ideas are passed between them. It makes me smile and appreciate the privilege of our library systems and public education ― free books to borrow and share ... free exchange of ideas ... life explored through the eyes of a child. I cherish these moments of wonder and delight in our library! Silence may be golden, but an excited, smiling or laughing child enjoying the love of a good book is priceless!

Darla Butero
Bayfield Elementary Primary School Library
Bayfield, CO

For a library to transform lives, its goal must be that every student likes, if not loves, to read. To accomplish this, books of all subjects and cultures must be available and well-marketed to all students. Enthusiastic library staff encourages reading by listening to students’ interests and needs, recommending books and authors, and following up with students for their impressions and experiences. Books and authors should be part of students’ conversations the way video games and social media are. To be transformative, visiting the library and reading need to be daily functions of our entire community, as important as inhaling oxygen.

Michael Tzipori
Cabrillo Middle School
Ventura, CA

The library is a place for individuals to explore, create, relax, and simply be. I try to make my library a welcoming place for students so that they can tap into myriad of resources available. The library is a window to investigate and see the world. The experience transforms students from the narrow existence of daily life to the wide world beyond our brick and mortar walls. This is either by literally exploring other places or by igniting the mind’s creativity to imagine new ideas, plans, and dreams.

Lara Macklin
Okaw Valley High School
Bethany, IL

Community college libraries transform lives from many different areas of the population. One example is our early college program in which we offer high school students the change to get an associate degree for free while they complete high school. The program focuses on students who would be the first in their family to attend college. This can be the first step in breaking a cycle of poverty.

Lisa Shores
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Salisbury, NC

We help to support and create the world’s future engineers, inventors, medical professionals, lawyers, and more. And the resources and collections that we provide access to opens up the world to people of all ages and backgrounds. We are one of the last trustworthy social institutions left in the world, and we are a great equalizer.

Marissa Ball
Florida International University Libraries
Miami, FL

Our library seeks to provide essential services to our community. The first “life-changing” service that comes to mind is simply our provision of free internet access. I realize every library offers this, but just this week I had a patron tell me that she wouldn’t be seeing us as much since she was just hired for a job that she was able to apply for using our computers. She created her resume, printed it, applied, and communicated via email with her prospective employer by using our services. Her life has certainly changed for the better because we are here.

Rachel Burcham
Pulaski County Library
Pulaski, VA

Our High School library doesn’t transform lives with one, single earth-moving event. I believe we transform lives each and every day with the all the little (and not so little) things we do. It’s in the welcoming environment we created; it’s the warm and friendly staff that is always willing to listen, help and encourage; it’s the lesson we create with teachers that challenge and engage, it’s the diverse collection we developed that speaks to all our students; it’s the hours we’re open late and early; it’s the Coffee House we host; it’s board game nights, book discussion groups, read-a-thons and author visits. But most importantly is our districts’ emphasis on a culture that celebrates reading, literacy and the importance of libraries in our lives.

Kathleen Jaccarino
Brockport High School
Brockport, NY

We are the heart of our community. We are the source for local information (once called gossip); we loan odd items ― rubber stamps, card creation kits, cake pans, a slide projector and screen. We have an oral history project where we are recording the memories of the village. We are the only place to use a computer for those without the internet or a computer, maybe for a job application or to download travel tickets, etc. We engage our little people with storytime and summer performers, and we turn them on to science with STEAM programs. We do whatever our patrons need to help make their lives better.

Kent Barnard
Patterson Memorial Library
Wild Rose, WI

Our library provides a community gathering place, a source of entertainment, and a gateway to knowledge—but most important, I think, is our role in connecting underserved populations to the world with internet access and technology training to help people access the wealth of online resources available to them.

Kate Kulpa
Fall River Public Library
Fall River, MA

Every day a child’s mind is broadened by our library books. Every day someone uses our computers for a job search. Every day our books, movies and music put smiles on faces throughout town. Every day our library changes lives in small and big ways.

Keith Rogers
Friendswood Public Library
Friendswood, TX

Click the button below to see a list of our National Library 
Week 2016 Giveaway winners.

See the Winners

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