Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ask not what your library can do for you...

Just kidding. Totally ask that.

But also, this blog presents: Things that you can do for your local public library for almost no effort or money:

-Donate the recent bestseller you bought to the library collection as soon as you finish it. I guarantee you the waiting list for the library’s copies are is at least a month long.

-If your library has a place to provide feedback, take five minutes to actually tell them what they need to improve. Actively collecting user input costs staff time and is a difficult process. You are saving the staff a lot of effort.

-If they gave you a cheap pair of ear buds on your last flight or you picked up a free flash drive at a trade show, bring it to the library. A single pair of headphones or a flash drive for someone who doesn’t have one can prevent a huge patron meltdown, but most libraries can’t afford to give them out unless the supplies are donated.

-Write a book or movie review for your library’s review blog, if it has one (if it’s a big library it probably does). It’s a struggle for the diversity of the staff’s reading taste to match the diversity of the community’s reading tastes, so new contributors are almost always welcomed.

-Take that pile of books you are planning to resell to a bookstore for 5% of their original price to the library instead. Their Friends of the Library will sell them at a book sale (probably for 5% of their original value) to raise money for the library.

-If you read and write a language other than English, ask a library staff member if it’d be useful to them for you to spend an hour translating some of their signs into that language.

-Bring the pile of superfluous pens and pencils cluttering up your drawers to the library. The information desk probably gives out writing implements, and if no one donates them either the library has to stop making them available or money to buy them comes out of budgets for actually interesting things like books, movies, and library programs.

-Go to the library and get a library card, even if you have a home internet connection and a book-buying budget so you’re not sure how often you’ll use it. Statistics about membership and visits are the most powerful weapons libraries have in the battle to get funding from the city or county governments that oversee them.


  1. These are great ideas.

    1. Thank you! Having gone to an amazing high school and university, I have a lot of educated, liberal, successful friends who really like the idea of the public library but never actually go there because they have a book-buying budget and home internet connections. Whenever I talk to them about working at the library they get a little embarrassed, because they are big supporters of the library in theory but don't in practice ever use it or know what they can do to help it out. I thought they could maybe use some tips.