Have you ever had an experience at a library change your life?

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A friend recently sent me an article titled “How an Art Library Is Changing Lives in L.A.”. I loved the story told in it, how from the death of Dan McCleary’s mother spawned the beginning of a nonprofit art space that served the underprivileged youth in the neighbourhood. Instead of flowers, art books were requested at the funeral. Further donations of art books into a collection of roughly 10, 000, provides the foundation for the nonprofit. Materials and courses are offered to the youth, in addition to field trips to galleries, allowing youth to have an education in art that they may not have otherwise received. From all accounts, it is a well-used space in the community, open to all.

From a researcher perspective, the treasures that can be found in libraries can alter your research. These could be old journals, news clippings, a citation in a book, and a painting. To access these you need librarians who are trained in retrieval, discovery and classification. This article about the state of art librarians in Australia demonstrates that cutting librarians threatens the future of research.

As I’ve mentioned before, working in a public library exposes you to many members of the community. Especially working at a downtown branch, you may see more homeless people come to spend part of their day at the library. While certainly not needed by all, there have been times when my colleagues and I would wish that we had a social worker on sight who could provide assistance to those who needed it. Luckily the idea of social workers in libraries is starting to catch on, such as this article discusses. Displaying compassion and empathy to our library customers, and being able to provide services that can change lives, is so important for public librarians.

Personally, I’ve seen various people come through the library who have been changed by services and materials we provide. Showing and engaging someone who struggles with reading to the world of audiobooks, and having him return week after week for more is one of my favourite feel good stories.

How about you? Have you had a moment, a librarian, a program, or a library change your life?

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