September is National Library Card Sign Up Month in the U.S.! And that means it is the perfect time to discuss all the ways to help support your local public library, and all the ways that supporting the library also helps individuals. More support means more funding, which means even better libraries!
At the Library
Sign up for a library card!
Libraries keep track of card sign ups and report on what percentage of eligible people are cardholders. These stats help them advocate for more funding. Plus, now you have a library card and can enjoy all that the public library has to offer!
Attend an event.
Libraries also keep track of how many programs they hold and how many people attended, to demonstrate their continued relevancy. Attend a program to help library stats. Plus, you will have the fun of having attending the event and meeting new people! Make sure to attend programs you are particularly interested in, since organizations are likely to look at attendance numbers to decide what types of programs to keep investing staff time and effort in.
Ask a question at the reference desk.
If you have ever asked a librarian a question and then seen them make a quick tally mark or open a Google doc, that’s because they also track how many reference questions they answer. So if you have a question you can’t answer, instead of leaving disappointed, ask a librarian! They will help you find what you need, and they’ll get the stats.
Not sure what to do with your old books? See if your library will take them either to add to the collection or to sell. Just make sure your books are in good condition, and that you are following their donation guidelines. Sadly, not every volume can be sold–if it is out of date or moldy, for example, no one is likely to want it.
Shop the used booksale.
Donate money to the library while buying yourself some cheap books!
Don’t reshelve the materials you viewed but chose not to check out.
This is, yes, partly because some people will put the books in the wrong place (even if they firmly believe they are putting them away correctly). But it is also because libraries count the books that were used in the building. Each time you put your books in the designated area, the staff scan them and collect the statistics. Every statistic helps libraries advocate for more funding, so don’t feel guilty about putting your books on the appropriate cart or table instead of back on the shelf.
Clean up the toys you used in the children’s section.
This may be confusing, but while you should not reshelve the books, you should put away any toys you and/or your children played with. I have heard some libraries count the number of people they see using the play area, but they are probably not sending stats to their local leaders on how many times they had to pick up the blocks each day. Help the staff out by keeping the area tidy, and help keep other patrons safe so they do not trip over any scattered toys.
Follow your public library on social media.
Boost your library’s follower count, while also keeping yourself informed about any fun programs or services they are offering!
Like or share the library’s posts, if you feel so inclined.
You can help boost the library’s stats and help your friends and family at the same time, by passing on information about materials or services others might find useful
Pass along any programs, giveaways, services, or events that you think friends or family might find useful.
You don’t need social media to pass on information about the library! If you know someone who is looking for a tutor, and you know the library has tutoring services, let them know. If you know someone who needs help with a resume or a cover letter, why not tell them about the databases that could help? Very often, supporting the library actually means supporting the people who could benefit from library services, but who don’t know about everything the library offers.
Take photos of yourself using the library so all your friends and family can see what they’re missing out on! Consider: you posing with a new library card, you getting a haul of books, you attending a fun program, and more!
Many people still think the library is “just books,” or that it is boring and not for them. Why not show people that the library is fun? And for everyone!
Invite a friend or family member to go to a library program with you.
Enjoy a free night out by going to a library program! As far as I can tell, the same few people attend all the library programs. But other people could benefit, as well! I love inviting friends and family to programs with me so that they can see what the library offers. Many people are hesitant to try new things alone, so inviting people allows them to experience the library, get comfortable there, and maybe go back later! They often could benefit from library resources; they just have not thought of using them until I showed them.
Write about your favorite library memories.
Libraries sometimes get bad publicity from individuals who do not see their usefulness, or from people who are annoyed about their libraries being underfunded. Why not focus on the positive and remember some of the good things libraries provie?
Write about your favorite library resources.
People who use the library often sometimes assume that everyone knows about the library as much as they do. But this is not the case! Even avid library users may not be aware of everything the library has to offer. So talk up your favorite resources! You just might be giving the information to someone who needed to read it!
Share your secret library tips.
Many people go to the library, browse, and leave. But there is so much more the library has to offer! Share your tips for getting the most out of the library.
Post photos of any library swag you have.
Everyone loves book swag! Put a twist on this popular photo idea by showcasing some library swag.
Share your library holds list (a spin on the popular TBR list post).
Sometimes book blogging can feel very consumerist. But you don’t need to spend tons of money to participate in fun challenges or post photos. Use your library’s collection instead!
Write a book haul post featuring library books or books from the library book sale.
Again, you don’t need to drain your bank account to participate in popular book blogger post such as a haul video. Instead of buying twenty books, consider showing off your library haul! This can help, too, because some people still think libraries only house research books or classics. Let them know that popular books can be borrowed, too!
Tweet about a library service you have used lately (ex. Libby/Overdrive, Hoopla, Kanopy, Ancestry, etc.)
Even people who are aware of certain resources may not know how to use them, or may only know some of the basics. Share your expertise by explaining how to use a library resource. Or, you can do something fun like read a bunch of books suggested by NoveList–and then post about how well you think the algorithm worked. Spread the word so people who might need these services know not only to check to see if their local library offers them, but also know how to get started.
Share photos of crafts you have made at the library.
Crafts from the library are one thing I know that everyone seems really interested in. Craft materials are not cheap, so when I show off the cool things I have made at the library, people always want to know more.
Share tours of libraries you visit.
Every book lover wants to visit the library from Beauty and the Beast, right? Well, there are some real life libraries that feel like they are just as magical! I love reading posts about other libraries, and I’m sure many others do, as well!
While this post is about to support the local library, the real magic is that supporting the library often really means supporting one’s self and others in the community. Libraries offer so much from books to homework help to research databases to computer classes to crafts and career help. Getting a library card, attending a program, or spreading the word gives the library more users and more stats so they can ask for more funding for these initiatives. But the real benefit is to the people using the services–the people who would not be able to complete their resume or do their homework or read a book without the public library. Supporting the public library means that everyone wins!
What are your suggestions on how to support the public library?