Some of my favorite childhood memories are going to the local library during the summer. I loved searching for the perfect book to escape into or a DVD to borrow. There were fantastic programs with fun snacks and crafts. I’m still a regular patron of my local library, though my relationship with the library looks different now. As my needs have changed, I’ve gotten to discover the myriad of services that libraries offer. Protecting and defending the autonomy of public libraries ensures that libraries are best able to serve their communities and by extent, women.
Public libraries are magical places where information, creativity, and resources are available to the entire community. All a person needs to use the free Wi-Fi, book a conference room, or borrow books is a library card. Most libraries have online companion apps that allow patrons to check out eBooks on their phones. They also have afterschool programming that helps bridge the gap between the end of the traditional school day and workday. There are adult education resources and job seeker resources. Queer youth can turn to libraries to learn about themselves, explore the world around them, and escape into happy worlds where things turn out okay. Libraries are entirely designed to benefit their communities, especially those who need library services most.
When book bans and school boards start to interfere with the autonomy of libraries, communities suffer. In some places, librarians are being fired or leaving their jobs because of battles over appropriate content and displays. Understaffed libraries don’t have the ability to provide regular services to patrons. These libraries may even be forced to close altogether.
In order to preserve the integrity of public libraries, we must support them and defend their autonomy. Librarians know more about their industry than we do. They know which books people are reading and what services make a difference in their community. We need to be listening to librarians and doing our best to support our local libraries.
By Erin Reichert, NOW Government Relations Intern