After watching yet another local news report on how the homeless are overrunning the libraries (air conditioning, free Internet, and apparently a surplus of YouTube videos available for viewing), I was left once again with the impression that the general public believes that libraries have outlived their purpose. For many people, they seem to think that in this age of google, Wikipedia, and e-books, public libraries are baby-sitters for bored children waiting for their rides or safe shelters for transients.
They would be wrong.
As summer ends, so does the national Summer Reading Programs for adults, teens, and children. The cooperative ALA theme for this year was Superheroes, comic and real-life, and you only need to check twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see just how amazingly librarians and libraries embraced it. #SRP2015.
Firemen and policemen made visits to libraries, costumed superheroes read storytimes, artists taught children how to create their own comic books, and children created their own costumes. The creativity displayed by library volunteers and staff was astonishing. Yes, I would be tooting my own library’s horn by including them in this, except that I had very little to do with our programs. I just stood back and watched in amazement.
To see children and their parents so excited to come into the library each week to be rewarded just for reading never gets old, even when the staff is exhausted and we are overwhelmed by crowds. Adults enjoy the reading programs as much as children, as for once they have an excuse to do something they might believe they just don’t have time to fit into their schedules. Reading for fun. Reading to their children.
Reading becomes a priority. You can make time for reading.
So, when I fear that people are too busy to come into the library, that we are warehousing the homeless, that everyone already has access to everything online at home…I remember the summer.
Summer Reading Programs are exhausting, but they remind everyone that there is always time to read. The reward is just more tangible, immediate, and fun. Now we just have to find a way to make summer vacations last throughout the year.