Love Your Library
Valentine’s Day may be over, but love is still in the air – in the form of #LoveYourLibrary!
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to hear many people share their stories of what their local library means to them. Stories ranged from heartwarming to heartbreaking, but they leave no doubt in my mind that a public library is one of the most important assets a community possesses.
At nearly 7 feet tall and almost as broad, Marcus looked like he could toss a football player across the field. He was a bar bouncer by night and a hobby artist by day. Several times each week, he came to the library to practice his drawing. Although he had no formal training, his art was exquisitely detailed and lifelike. Occasionally, he’d gift one of the librarians with their portrait, which he drew as they assisted patrons at the desk. “Y’all treat everybody nice,” he once stated in his quiet voice. “This (library) is the only place where I can be myself.”
Lillian was in her 50s, with long gray hair and a shy smile. One day, she caught my eye while browsing the shelves. Librarians see that “help me” look a lot, but this one was different – it was desperate. I engaged her in conversation, and she finally asked if we had any “books on marriage.” When I dug a little deeper, her eyes filled with tears. She whispered that her husband was physically and verbally abusive, and she didn’t know what to do.
“This is my safe place,” she stated. “I thought (the abuse) was just something I had to live with until I read a (fiction) book about someone like me. She (the main character) got help and got out. I’m looking for more books that could give me ideas.” We found her more helpful books and referred her to a community organization for victims of abuse. Several months later, she came back to say that she had left her husband safely and for the first time since she was 20, she felt free.
The stories are endless – the girl who said our kind interactions saved her life from suicide, the man who proudly showed us photos of the shed he built using a DIY book, the child who described the stories that inspired her crayon drawings, the dad who discovered the perfect picture book to explain adoption to his child, the teen who found the courage to express their feelings after discovering that they weren’t alone, the 80-year-old man who used email for the first time to connect with his granddaughter, the factory worker who discovered his passion for stars and joined an astronomy group at the library. Every patron has their story of how the library has positively impacted their lives.
We’d love to hear your story of what the library means to you! Share on social media with #LoveYourLibrary or write a comment on a paper heart when you come to visit. This is YOUR library.
~ Julie Phillips, Director
Botetourt County Libraries
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