Library Love: Love Letters to the Library

Sometimes I think about my profession and get the warm fuzzies. Rather than list all the things that I think are wonderful about libraries and the folks who work in them, I've crafted a few love letters to better illustrate the wide-ranging impact libraries have on our lives.

Dear Librarians,

Thank you for opposing the "library provision" of the Patriot Act for over a dozen years until it's sunset in 2015. For all of that time, you shredded sign-in sheets for computers, made changes in your circulation software so borrowing histories disappeared when books were returned, and found creative ways to circumvent the FBI's gag order when requesting citizen data. You went to court to challenge the government's surveillance of citizens in libraries and fought for an individual's right to freely and anonymously access information. Thank you.

—Citizens of the United States

Dear Librarians,

Thank you for bringing the library to us! Since 1905, libraries across the United States have brought their collections and services to us on horseback, wagon, boat, motorcycle, vans and buses. You continue to find ways to serve the diverse needs of our communities, from bringing materials in our native languages to programming in career development and early education. We look forward to every bookmobile visit!

—Your friends in rural, urban, suburban, and tribal areas

Dear Local Library,

Thank you for connecting me with tax preparation help! I had no idea libraries brought in volunteers to help patrons fill out our tax forms — especially those of us who are lower income or elderly. You've taken a weight off my chest! 

—A card-carrying member of the AARP

Dear Local Library,

Thank you for providing the resources I needed to get back on my feet. You game me shelter from the cold in the winter and the heat in the summer and didn't require that I buy anything. The free access to public computers allowed me to search for jobs and work on application materials. Your employees answered my questions and helped connect me with job fairs in my city. You even had a social worker on site a few days a week who helped connect me with housing and food. I couldn't have gotten off the streets without you.

—A formerly homeless patron

Dear American Library Association,

When you adopted your Library Bill of Rights in 1939, you specified that "Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use." While this provision has seen some controversy over the years, it has allowed marginalized groups to meet in safe neutral spaces for over half a century.

—The wonderfully diverse humans of the United States

Dear Library Employee

No, it wasn't me and it definitely wasn't the library stacks on the third floor you saw in that Pornhub video. But thanks for the great lighting!

—Anonymous patron

Do you have a love letter to the library to share? Post it in the comments!

Stephanie Bonjack

Column by Stephanie Bonjack

Stephanie Bonjack is an academic librarian based in Boulder, Colorado. She teaches the relentless pursuit of information, and illuminates the path to discovery. She has presented at national and international library conferences, and is especially interested in how libraries evolve to serve the needs of 21st century patrons. When she’s not sleuthing in the stacks, she enjoys chasing her toddler across wide open spaces.

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