Amy Meyertholen, HandsOn VISTA member and volunteer program coordinator for the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, Arizona, has always loved libraries, seeing them as "a direct connection to the community." She encourages people to help build a symbiotic relationship between their libraries and the communities they serve by getting involved!
Volunteering your time is one of the best ways to support your local library. While you'll want to check with your library's specific guidelines, Meyertholen says that in Phoenix "branches welcome volunteers anytime the library is open." Adults can simply fill out an application, complete a background check and start helping!
Encourage your teens to check into the opportunities for them to help, too. Volunteering at a library is great for young people's resumes and their character development skills, too. The Phoenix libraries have specific teen programs during the school year, as well as summer programs to accommodate teens' busy schedules.
Help your young kids get involved in supporting the library by hosting a book drive, Meyertholen suggests.
The Phoenix libraries have a specific foundation, the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, where the books can be donated and then sold to raise money for library programming. Find out if your library has a similar support group for your local library network or ask about ways to donate books to benefit your library.
If you have time restraints that limit you from volunteering at your local library on a regular basis, Meyertholen suggests looking into special events hosted by the "Friends of" your library groups in which you can get involved.
You may have to keep quiet inside the library but not outside it! Help support your library by simply singing its praises to anyone and everyone.
Meyertholen says, "One really important thing individuals can do to support their libraries is to advocate for them! Talk to other people about the wonderful services the library provides to the community and encourage others to utilize the materials and programs offered. Speak out about why you value the library."
And take advantage of your library's amazing services. Aside from making a wide range of books, movies and music available for you to borrow at no cost, your library may offer story times and activities for kids and teens, educational programming for all ages and much more. If it has been too long since you've visited your local library, we invite you to use National Library Week as an excuse to get reacquainted with it!
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