17 Things You Didn’t Know About Libraries, Told To You By Librarians

We can do more than fix the printer!!

1. Not all libraries are the same.

“There are lots of types of libraries: public libraries, academic library, then also school libraries, independent research libraries, and special libraries (for law, theology, medicine, music, art). […] Public libraries, like public schools, benefit or suffer from the associated tax dollars of the district they’re in. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where the library’s bathroom was a good place to do drugs and have also seen libraries so posh they’re intimidating.”

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

2. Yes, kids still read!

“My middle school students come to the library to play games (Bananagrams and World of Warcraft are huge!) craft and color, and just hang out. That said, for all the talk of kids not reading books for fun anymore, we definitely do still have a reliable group of students who curl up on the couches to read every day during recess.”

— Manuela A., Middle School Librarian

3. Some libraries even have fun activities like indoor climbing for kids.

“During one day in my library, children and teens learned basic sewing techniques, conquered fear on our 10’ by 10’ climbing wall, invented new games to play together, and took home about five pound bags of nutritious, easy to prepare food each.”

—Kayla Hoskinson, Children’s Librarian, Free Library of Philadelphia 

4. You don’t even have to leave your bed to use the library.

“I wish more people knew that you can visit us online! Our streaming movies as well as our ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines can all be borrowed directly online! You can also take classes online and learn a new language, computer programming, business skills, or to play the guitar.”

—Jen Wright, Chief, Materials Management Division, Free Library of Philadelphia

“Please mention! Even if your library doesn’t have the resource you need, they can help you borrow it from somewhere else.”

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

5. Most libraries are over the Dewey Decimal system, thanks!

“The Dewey Decimal System isn’t really a thing in most libraries anymore. We mostly use the Library of Congress (LOC) classification and there’s still a fair amount a lot of debate over subject headings (like some old-timey, outdated, racist ones).”

— Erin M., Academic Librarian

6. And librarians might not think your library jokes are that funny.

“All the Dewey Decimal system jokes are not funny and we’ve heard them before.”

—Jaime T., Librarian

“Dewey was a straight up asshole, known for habitual sexual harassment and antisemitism. Please don’t mention him at a party when I tell you I’m a librarian (or you will get a lecture).”

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

7. You can experiment with 3D printers and maker kits at some libraries.

“Many public libraries give people access to 3D printers, laser cutters, robotics, micro controllers, a way to learn about electronics and circuitry. Public libraries with Makerspace allow people to have a safe place to tinker, be creative, and try new things. Some public libraries will even let patrons check out “maker kits” to let people learn and experiment with some of these things at home and at their own pace.”

— Michelle L., Makerspace Librarian

8. Despite what you’ve heard, there’s rarely any shushing at the library.

“Public libraries aren’t all about silence anymore. Local public libraries are community hubs filled with activity, and smaller branches might not always have a designated quiet-only area. Call ahead to see if your nearby library has private study rooms available, or else be prepared to work in a relatively bustling environment!”

—Bianca H., Teen Librarian


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