‘The library is no longer just a building. We are where you are, whenever you need us.’
Test Your Library Knowledge
by Jill Fuller, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
I’ll start with an obvious fact: libraries aren’t new. After all, libraries have been around in some form in America since the 1700s, part of the landscape of almost every town and city in the nation. So you probably already know a lot about libraries. You know what they’re for and you know what they do. No surprises there, right? But libraries are always reinventing to meet new needs. Some things that you thought you knew might have changed a bit. Let’s take a look at a few of these assumptions and broaden the definition of what a library is.
1. If my library doesn’t have what I want, I have no other options. No way! If your library doesn’t have it, it’s very likely that one of the 24 sister libraries in the Bridges Library System does. You see, your library card is a magical thing because it works at every library in Waukesha and Jefferson counties. Every. Single. One. You can drop your books off at any of them. You can use the computers at any of them. You can pick up or request materials from any of them. (And you thought your credit card was the most powerful card in your wallet!) Sharing materials allows our libraries to save money while increasing the size of the collections available to patrons. It also means that you are guaranteed to get the items you want and need, delivered right to your home library.
2. Libraries=books. Well, yes. Books make up the bulk of our collections and continue to be one of the main reasons why people visit the library. But let’s walk past the bookshelves to look at the rest of the collection. Over here, there are shelves of movies to rival anything offered by Netflix. The audiobooks right there allow you to enjoy being read to. Over there is the magazine section, right behind the collection of music CDs. You can even download a book, magazine, or audiobook from the library website if you’d rather go digital. Dig a little deeper and you’ll even find a library of things. You can check out WiFi hotspots from six of our libraries or take home board games and science kits. Not to mention the programs and events happening in the libraries every day, from art shows to magicians to language classes. Even though we still love books, they no longer solely define the library’s role in the community.
3. Libraries are so old-school. Not anymore. From digital books to online research tools to coding workshops, we’re pretty tech-y nowadays. While we do love those old catalog drawers, we don’t need them now that we are online. CAFÉ, our online catalog, gives you the power to look at what all the libraries have, request something from another library, renew your stuff, and even look for upcoming programs. Homework help, employment resources, and free online classes are also available to you from the comfort of your own home. Finally, you can “visit” the library online; check out your library’s Facebook page, sign up for its e-newsletter, or explore its website. The library is no longer just a building. We are where you are, whenever you need us.
What else do you want to know about the library? Feel free to ask your local librarian; it’s their mission to find you the answers!
A version of this article appeared in the Waukesha Freeman, the Oconomowoc Enterprise, the Daily Jefferson County Union, and the Watertown Times. We will be sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.