Thursday, April 9, 2015

Eight very good reasons why you should love your public library

AFSCME and CSEA support National Library Workers Day on April 14, 2015.
By Ove Overmyer
President, City of Rochester, NY Library Workers
Monroe County, NY Local 828 Unit 7420

1) Libraries are community cornerstones
Libraries are often referred to as “The People’s University.” They are fantastic community centers too—especially in a world where public space is shrinking rapidly and not everyone can gain access to a formal education. To visit your public library, all you need to do is stroll through our doors or go online. You don’t need to be subjected to an expensive membership fee either—the library is free and open to all walks of life.

Libraries have something to offer everyone no matter what your goals or ambitions – you can find a wonderful, escapist novel to read or a magazine with advice on living a healthier lifestyle. You can get a book to help you with a favorite hobby or learn the skills you need to run a business. You can catch up with current affairs; trace your family history or sign up for a computer class. Libraries truly offer something for every single person, and their barrier free facilities make our communities a more prosperous place to live.

2) A library card gives you access to all kinds of online subscriptions that you can use from home
In Monroe County, NY, you can access a great collection of database reference material and resources from your home or office computer—anytime and anywhere.  These include historic newspapers, magazines, dictionaries and encyclopedias, journals and business publications, arts and literature resources and public documents and other related information. Libraries are accessible 24/7 -- even when you are studying or researching at 3:00 am in the morning.

3) Using the library has never been easier
These days you can manage your library account in person, by telephone or online. You can visit more than 33 libraries of the Monroe County Library System (MCLS) conveniently located in your town or neighborhood, or use our mobile library catalogs or make use of our many online products and services. You can borrow fiction and non-fiction, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, CDs and DVDs as well as using reference services. Library patrons can also borrow low cost passes for entry to our most beloved museums and art attractions. And, if you can’t get to a branch due to a disability or mobility problem, we have an Outreach and Extension service that brings the library to you.

4) Libraries provide fast, easy Internet and PC access as well as free Wi-Fi
Let’s face it—not everyone can afford Internet access and a computer for home or personal use. Also, computers are just machines and they can break down from time to time. Need to scan a document or check your social security income status? Have you missed a few days catching up with friends and family on Facebook? Do you need to apply for unemployment insurance of find the right tax form? You can do all of this and more right here at your public library.

5) Buying all the latest bestsellers and music is not in my budget
The Monroe County Library System is one county one card—which means that every library card holder has access to over 2 million items to borrow. Using your library card can also save you a load of money on leisure and entertainment expenses– and we haven’t even mentioned the low cost savings when borrowing e-books, music and DVD rentals. For an incredibly small handling fee, you can also get most library items in the MCLS catalog sent to your neighborhood library in just a matter of days.

6) Libraries connect people and communities of interest
Libraries can help you keep up with your interests, hobbies and current affairs. Whether it’s attending a book talk, community forum, a health lecture, or finding out the latest neighborhood or political news—you can access all this information right here at your public library.

7) Libraries provide essential, reliable information to help you achieve your goals
You know what they say, “Google can get you a million answers. However, a unionized librarian will give you the right one.” It must be stated, what makes a good library become a great library is it's workforce. Collections alone do not make a great library-- it's the expertise of the people who serve our communities that make libraries extra-special institutions that improve our quality of life.

The local public library can help you with personal goals like creating a better fitness regime or a learning how to live a healthier lifestyle. It can offer resources for learning a new language, improving your literacy or mastering English as a second language. You can find out how to do important business tasks like accounting, project management or look for a higher paying job. At your public library, you can learn more about your ancestors, understand how to manage a medical condition, improve your computer skills, and find out how to write an effective cover letter. Whatever personal interests you may have, your public library has the potential to transform your life.

8) You’ll never know what you’ll find until you look
Never underestimate the joy of surprise. One of the greatest pleasures of browsing the public library is the fact your expectations are always matched or exceeded. Whether you walk through our doors or visit us virtually on one of our many online social media platforms, a world you never knew existed is waiting for you around the next corner. It’s this thrilling sense of wonderment and potential that makes library fans love their libraries so much. From learning about a great new author or meeting special friends at a book talk-- there is always something stimulating, wonderful and unexpected waiting for you at your local public library.

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