When You Say Library…

‘The driving force behind our work as librarians is our belief that engaged and innovative libraries equal stronger communities.’

When You Say Library…

by Jill Fuller, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
February 2017

My mother says she knew I was going to be a librarian when I was barely two years old. Even at that age, I paged through books, sat spellbound through story times, and loved to visit the library. My mom continued to repeat this prediction throughout my life, as my love of reading grew along with me. Although I dreamed of being a writer, then a vet, a journalist, and a museum curator, my mother’s certainty never wavered. And like almost everything else she used to tell me, my mom ended up being right. Today I get to work with public libraries every day as the Communications Librarian for the Bridges Library System. What’s that, you ask? In essence, we are the proverbial “wizard behind the curtain” that provides support, collaboration opportunities, and leadership to the 24 public libraries in Waukesha and Jefferson counties. While each library is unique, with its own staff, board, and services, it does not stand alone. As part of a system, the libraries share benefits that translate to financial savings and more opportunities for their patrons and taxpayers, such as the sharing of library materials so everyone has more access to the books, movies, magazines, and music they want. If you have ever visited or had a library card with one of the 24 libraries in either county, then you are part of the Bridges Library System.

When you say or hear the word “library,” what comes to mind? Card catalog drawers and quiet, dusty rooms? Chances are, you don’t immediately think of robotics, community gardens, and Alzheimer’s screenings. While some may associate a library with all things quaint and nostalgic, if you’ve visited a library recently, you know that they have changed dramatically in recent decades.

No longer just silent book-filled rooms, public libraries have evolved to meet the demands of a modern information era, standing on the front lines of budget cuts, rises in unemployment, and social service gaps to provide essential services and offer welcoming spaces to their communities, from computer classes and knitting clubs to kids’ STEM programs and career assistance. The driving force behind our work as librarians is our belief that engaged and innovative libraries equal stronger communities. 

The goal of a strong, vibrant community is one that we can all commit to, I’m sure. But what does that actually mean? Can libraries really transform their communities and affect positive change? Every month, I will answer this question by sharing stories with you about what your public libraries are doing every day in your community to make it a better place. Whether you are a regular library visitor or haven’t stopped in for a while, I hope to introduce you to the amazing libraries right in your backyard, opening the doors a little wider so you can discover what makes your libraries so vital to your neighborhood. Inside these walls, you will find shelves stocked with books on thousands of topics. But you’ll also hear the sounds of singing and dancing from the children’s story time; see adults attending a Healthy Eating class; find Legos on the tables; watch printers churn out resumes and school reports in the computer lab; and smell popcorn popping for tonight’s movie. Because a library is not just a building. It is an essential cog in the gears of a community, forever contributing to its forward progress. Welcome to the library. We are so glad you’re here.

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.