We Are the Library


Patron Stories Show Value of Public Libraries

A lot has changed in a month, hasn’t it? While it’s easy to focus on the negative that’s taking place around the globe, I find myself drawn to the stories of love, kindness, and generosity that are also being shared in the news. In the spirit of spreading good news, I thought I’d share some of the beautiful stories we’ve collected from the past year from community members who find solace and connection at their public libraries. I hope that reading these stories helps you think of the ways your library has positively affected your life as well.

Elizabeth lives with dementia and attends Library Memory Project memory cafes at several Waukesha County libraries with her daughter Marie. “We go to the memory cafes because we like them a lot,” Marie said. “Mom does get bored, so I am thankful that we have places like this to go to. I think it’s good for her health to keep busy as well.”

While working as a truck driver, Charlie always listened to books on tape. Recently, he discovered Playaways at the library after his sight started deteriorating. He goes to the Johnson Creek Public Library, which just got a grant to build a Playaway collection. “Now we’ve got maybe 20. It’s a start. I think it’s great for folks like me who used to read a lot, and they’re so portable! Fits in your pocket. It’s pretty handy- you just put the little earbuds in your ear and there you go. And what I like about them is they’re so trouble-free. I’ve never had an issue with them and I’ve listened to 150-200 different books. It’s all in one little thing in your pocket!”

Charlie

Matt brings his children, Hazel and Isaac, to the Waukesha Public Library for storytime, books, and socialization. “Hazel is three-and-a-half and she’s already reading, so we were able to find all the materials we needed to get her started reading here… On Fridays, they have a playtime for two hours where kids can just come in and play with whatever toys they set out. It’s nice because my kids don’t go to daycare so this gives them an opportunity to socialize and interact with other kids and develop those skills.”

Abby and Jon moved to Lake Mills two years ago and got a library card right away for themselves and their four-year-old son Ira. “We come to the library to check out books and to have something to do when it’s cold and rainy. Our son loves to play here,” Abby said. “I appreciate that the entire downstairs area is the children’s section because there’s no way we would’ve come here as much as we have if he wasn’t able to be loud or play.”

Claire, a patron of Hartland Public Library, is an avid reader who depends on her public library. “I created a reading challenge for myself to read 52 books in 2019. At the same time, I implemented a book-buying ban since I already have overflowing bookshelves, so it was the library to the rescue! Thanks to the interlibrary loan system, I was able to save hundreds of dollars while completing my challenge and reading the books on my list. I’m back at it in 2020 by reading 52 books.”

Claire

Even during this quarantine, people are sharing what they love and miss about their library. “I love that the Mukwonago and Eagle libraries have helped instill a love of learning and reading in our kids,” Jamie wrote to us. “We absolutely adore our libraries and all the people who work there!” Tracy made us laugh when she commented, “Running out of books may be worse than running out of toilet paper or food!” And a patron from Jefferson Public Library said, “I always knew I loved my library but didn’t know I am in love with the library.”

We are all missing many things about our daily, “normal” lives that we perhaps once took for granted. If the library is something you’ve been missing, consider emailing me to share what you love and appreciate most about it so we can share it with others. Let’s keep on spreading uplifting, positive stories to help us get through these difficult times. You can see more library stories on our website. Feel free to contact me at jfuller@bridgeslibrarysystem.org to share your library story!

Written by Jill Fuller. A version of this article appeared in the Waukesha Freeman, the Oconomowoc Enterprise, the Daily Jefferson County Union, the Waterloo Courier, and the Watertown Times. We will be sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.