Being resilient is a powerful trait. It means that you have the “capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” When faced with a challenge, resilient people don’t get stuck or paralyzed with inaction, instead, they try a new path or invent a fresh solution. Resilient people tend to believe that there IS a path forward and that they can find it. As a parent, it’s my fervent hope that I am raising resilient children; I want them to believe that they can figure out what to do when they’re lost or confused or unsure.
To move us beyond our current social and political turmoil, we’re in desperate need of more resiliency in 2022 and beyond. We need people who can help us recover from global pandemics and social crises. We need to learn how to make progress even when we disagree. We need to believe that it’s possible for us to both mend and advance.
We’re fortunate to have libraries on our side. In a recent discussion, resiliency was raised as an outcome of the work of public libraries. Melanie Huggins, President of the Public Library Association, said “We [libraries] are in the business of building resilient communities.” (Note: the entire conversation is well worth a listen.) There are many ways that public libraries help build resiliency — they offer opportunities to read, learn, connect, and much more.
Books are a mission-critical part of how libraries build more resilient communities. By sharing broad collections of books and encouraging people to read widely, libraries create communities of readers who have been exposed to lots of different ideas, problems, and potential solutions. This is the foundation of resiliency, understanding that different paths forward are possible.
Here are just a few ways to imagine the profound impact that books and reading can have on us:
- Reading about other peoples’ lives can offer a view into their struggles and understanding of their experiences so that you can find empathetic solutions that are good for many different people.
- Stories offer inspiration for trying something new, bigger, or better than you have now.
- Books provide a way to escape for a little while — and then come back refreshed and ready to deal with reality.
- Reading provides knowledge and education to help figure out how to tackle future problems.
- Books (especially well-curated collections of them) combat misinformation and misunderstandings by providing trusted, quality information from which to make better choices.
- Books lead to communities of citizens who are better Informed to decide how best to make their community a better place to live.
Now imagine what the opposite looks like... what happens if we aren’t resilient, aren’t inspired, aren’t informed, aren’t understanding of others? This sad state might not be too hard to imagine because we’re headed in that direction right now, if the current book-banning fever sweeping across communities is any indication. If that possibility scares you like it does me, check out the librarian-led @FReadomFighters group for ideas on how to push back.
Here at NoveList, we support #FReadom, and we believe deeply in the power of reading to change lives. We know we’re playing a long game — it can take decades to see the result of a life changed by books. But that possibility is what keeps us going in our quest to put the right book, in the right hands, at the right time. It keeps us committed to helping libraries build more resilient communities.
NoveList has some exciting initiatives planned for 2022 that are meant to support libraries in this important work. We’ll be creating more advanced ways of helping readers find diverse books and authors, powerful tools for libraries to communicate out to their communities, and educational opportunities to inspire librarians in their work with readers.
I am eager to see what the year ahead brings and hope that you’ll join us in embracing the power of reading to help build a bright future for us all.
Danielle Borasky is the Vice President of NoveList. She is currently reading The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Harris.