I've said it before and I will say it again: libraries are essential institutions, now more than ever. That's why it's important as a bibliophile that you learn all the different ways you can support your local library. Without the help of patrons like you, libraries can't survive, which means they can't do all of the important work they do to educate, enrich, protect, and serve their communities, all of which are services we just can't afford to lose, right now or ever.
Libraries are incredible places that are more than just reference desks and book lending services. They are community centers that support learning and culture, employment opportunity, health and wellness, tolerance and equality, and so much more. Libraries are the place a child can fall in love with reading, the place an immigrant can learn to speak English, the place a parent gets the job and interview training they need to support their family. They are crucial to the fabric of American society, and right now, they're being threatened by an administration that doesn't want to fund the vital services they and plenty of other institutions provide.
Luckily, there are readers like you and I who do.
If you're looking for a way to get involved in your community, then here are seven different ways you can support your local library. Trust me when I say every dollar and every minute of your time is well spent in the stacks.
1Become a donating member of your local library.
If you want to support your library beyond signing up for a free membership, become a supporting or sustaining member instead. It's a chance to financially support the library with a monthly or yearly gift, and it often gives you exclusive benefits, including discounted tickets to events, behind-the-scenes access, and more.
Check out your local library's website or talk to your librarian to find out the best way to donate.
2Volunteer your time.
If you don't have the money to support your local library, donate your time instead. Check out the library's volunteer programs and see if they need help with staffing, cleaning, organizing, running book drives, or more. If you have a special skill or talent, donate that to the library in the form of a free community class. It can be anything from yoga and pilates to creative writing and resume workshopping.
Whatever you have to give, your library will be happy to accept — just ast a librarian.
3Donate your gently used books.
Want to support your library and make room on your shelf? Donate your used books and magazines — at least, the ones without highlighting, dog ears, and notes in the margins — to your local library using one of the many services out That way, others can enjoy the stories you already love.
To find out more, visit ALA's reference page.
4Show up to vote on behalf of your library.
If you truly want to support your local library, this step is crucial. Pay attention to local politics and new legislation that could effect your library, positively or negatively, and be sure to show up and vote on its behalf.
If you want to get even more involved, find out how you can campaign on your library's behalf, whether that means contacting your local officials to talk to them about the importance of the library, calling local voters to talk about upcoming legislation, or even going door to door to petition for it.
5Participate in library programming.
The library has so much more to offer than just books and computers, but unless patrons take advantage of the other programming opportunities, they'll likely go away. To support your local library, sign up for one of its book clubs, attend an author event, take a community class, or shop at their book sales. Whatever your library has to offer is for the benefit of you and your community, and by taking part, you're actually doing your part to help.
6Give to the American Library Association.
The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and biggest library association in the world, and its mission is to help protect, guide, develop, and promote libraries and information services across the country. They are the people in Washington, DC, advocating for libraries all around the nation, and without them, our library system wouldn't be the same.
If you want to help not only your local library but every public library in the United States, then find the right way to give to the ALA. You can make a one-time pledge, make a planned gift, sign up for recurring gifts, and even make a donation of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Find out how you can get involved online, and trust me when I say the options are limitless.
7Use your library often.
One of the easiest and mutually beneficial ways to support your local library is to simply use it. Borrow books regularly, either print or digital. Rent a movie, CD, or video game from the media library. Use the computers for research, job searches, or just for fun. Spend time in your library and take advantage of the services it provides for you, because unless people like you show up every week, it's only a matter of time until we lose one of the greatest assets our country has.