National Public Radio (NPR) has offered a summer series on public libraries. These stories have covered multiple perspectives. It can be quite entertaining to learn how other libraries operate. Some of their services are inspiring. Of course, some of their challenges make us grateful for the benefits that we enjoy.
Gabriel Spitzer highlighted the Books on Bikes program in Seattle. This program has librarians attending community events throughout the city. What makes this interesting is that the librarians are on bikes outfitted with trailers. The trailers are filled with books! This allows the libraries to serve members of the community who are not actively visiting the library. Working singles in their 20s are frequently considered underserved. This is an interesting solution to provide service to individuals in a physical space that is convenient to them.
In Beyond Books: Libraries Lend Fishing Poles, Pans & People Elizabeth Blair introduces us to some new lending practices. Libraries throughout the country are lending items such as baking pans & fishing poles. Though I am relatively new to Perry Public Library, I’m told there was a time that we actually checked out fishing poles. We still have the poles to prove it. One practice that Houston County has not participated in is the checking out of people. Providence Community Library in Rhode Island offers Human Books, people available to check out for conversation. Their goal is to help bridge differences through open and honest conversation amongst individuals from different walks of life.
Our dose of gratitude is inspired by Neda Ulaby’s story For You To Borrow, Some Libraries Have To Go Begging. She contrasts the methods of funding libraries from state to state. Some, such as Georgia, have statewide library services that receive significant assistance from state funds. Not all library systems are this fortunate. Vermont is highlighted in the article as one of the locales that funds libraries purely through local funds. This is a significant challenge for rural systems that have very little local revenue. The article states that over 2 dozen libraries in the small state lack internet connections. This statistic is significant when considered against our state of Georgia, which is highly rural. Our computers here at Perry Library allow our patrons to attend distance education, apply for employment, and file other necessary government paperwork. If internet were unavailable free of charge at the library, where would that leave the members of our community to perform these vital activities? Thankfully, here in Houston County, we don’t have to worry about this! We have experienced generous support from both state and local resources!
National Public Radio has certainly provided some Public Library love this summer. Their coverage of public libraries and their services throughout the country has offered some perspective for all of us. We are thankful to them for their great library coverage. We are thankful to our local and state governments as well as our Houston County Friends of the Library, who make it possible for us to maintain our level of service. And last but not least, we are thankful to our patrons who visit frequently and provide us with neverending inspiration to improve library offerings.