What Libraries Do

Libraries are places of information. When most people think "library" they think books. And while that is certainly true, these days books take different shapes, such as e-books and audio books. More than just books, libraries are places of information, offering people free access to a wealth of information that they often can't find elsewhere, whether online, in print or in person. Whether they're looking for DVDs or the latest best-seller; health or business information found  on internet databases not accessible at home, or going for story times and community programming, the library is a center of community for millions of people. 

America's 123,000 libraries fall into four basic types (with a few added variations): Public, School, Academic and Special. There are also Armed Forces libraries, Government libraries and multi-use or Joint-Use libraries, which combine library types in one service area or structure. Learn more about America's libraries

At the center of all types of libraries is the librarian. Librarians are information experts, selecting books relevant to the community, creating helpful programming, and connecting people to information. 

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

Neil Gaiman, Author

Libraries are community hubs. In addition to connecting people to information, libraries connect people to people. They are safe havens for kids when school is not in session, offering after school homework help, games and book clubs. Libraries offer computer classes, enabling older adults stay engaged in a digital world. Bookmobiles and community outreach programs keep those living in remote areas or those who are housebound connected to the larger community. 

Provide Access

Libraries level the playing field. As great democratic institutions, serving people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability, and providing the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work.

Libraries are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a global information society: the ability to read and use computers.

Libraries are advocates for your right to read and your right to reader privacy.

Innovate

Libraries are places for community engagement, a platform for great minds to come together. The way people are using our libraries is changing as fast as technology is changing society. Increasingly, libraries are becoming a place for creation and collaboration. 

Related Articles

By Steve ZaluskyLibraries are central to civic engagement, something that is especially apparent during the inevitable election cycle.  On Feb. 1, the voting cycle in the American Presidential election officially began with the Iowa caucuses, as Republican and Democrat voters flocked to have the first word on the candidates. READ MORE
By Steve ZaluskyLibraries are central to civic engagement, something that is especially apparent during the inevitable election cycle.  On Feb. 1, the voting cycle in the American Presidential election officially began with the Iowa caucuses, as Republican and Democrat voters flocked to have the first word on the candidates. READ MORE
Forty miles north of Chicago, the Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library (WPL) is giving new Americans the skills and confidence to improve their lives and “pay it forward” to their neighbors, thanks to support from the American Dream Starts @ your library initiative.Carmen Patlan, WPL’s community engagement and Spanish literacy manager, credits the initiative for giving the library the resources to structure classes that are helping individuals achieve their American Dream. The grant has enabled the library to hire a coordinator who works with a team of ambassadors to reach out and engage the community, conduct market research, and assess the community’s needs and the barriers that may prevent its members from succeeding. The library can then address these needs. READ MORE
 
Because transformation is essential to the communities we serve, Libraries Transform, Librariestransform.org

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Real Stories

When I was 16 and struggling with what it meant to be in love with another girl, the library gave me an alternative narrative from the one that I was developing - that I was a total freak.

Understanding what it means to be gay when you are a young teenager growing up in a small town in Michigan - especially then, the 70's - wasn't easy. There were no aunts or uncles or friends or Ellen or Modern Family. There was just me, my secret girlfriend, and our feelings.

Even though I didn't feel that loving someone else could possibly be wrong, that wasn't the message I got from anywhere else, including my church. So, as soon as I got my driver's license, I went to a nearby town, a bigger town that had a bigger library and I researched the...

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