Your Library Stories Matter!

The Lilac Girls. Black Panther. Dragons Love Tacos.

There are stories everywhere you turn in a library. Shelves upon shelves of books and movies, TV shows and magazines, all bursting with stories full of emotions, struggles, humor, and beauty that teach us what it means to live and to be human. We learn and make sense of the world around us through stories. The public library collects and shares stories and information so that we may all find common ground, understanding, and even a new perspective. But the stories on our shelves are not the only ones we care about. We also care about the individual stories of the people who come through our doors- the people we see every day as well as the ones we’ve just met. Those who come looking for something, anything, everything… and turn to the library to find it. At the library, we care about what they need and how we can help. Because we know that everyone’s story matters.

Inspiring stories from library patrons

Group of people sitting at tables, working on computers. Bookshelves in background. Text reads: "Without the awesome opportunities libraries provide me, there is no way I would be who I am today."

This February, for Library Lovers Month, public libraries across Waukesha and Jefferson counties are asking library users to share their stories about why they love the library and why the library matters to them. And the responses have been inspiring to read. Stories range from simple comments on social media- “I get a smile, a warm hello, and everything there makes me smarter and happier!” said one Watertown Public Library patron- to full-length paragraphs. Theresa, a patron at the Mukwonago Community Library wrote that, “Our family loves the library! There are so many great resources that can be checked out. Everything from books, music, movies, instruments, steam kits, and even museum passes. We also love the nice variety of programs that can be done as a family like bingo, meta space, and even an escape room. Libraries are an often overlooked gem in the community.”

“I was no longer a stranger!”

Bonnie, a patron at the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson wrote that, “I have moved several times during my adult life….I have learned that in order to feel at home in my new community I need to find new people and places. We moved again a few years ago. My local public library quickly became a favorite and welcoming place. Not long after we moved to Fort Atkinson, a library staff person greeted me by name as I entered the building. Her kindness moved me almost to tears. I was no longer a stranger, someone knew me!”

Butler Public Library has been collecting stories on little hearts in the library. One says, “I love my library because I want to keep learning, reading, and being part of a group!”

“There would be less adventures in my life..”

Rosemarie Wegner is passionate about the Brookfield Public Library, so much so that she joined their Friends group and the library Board. “Without the library… there would be less adventures in my life, as every time I step into the Brookfield Library I am transformed into a ‘whole new world’ of wonders and delights, expanding my mind and heart beyond the borders of my everyday experiences,” she said. When Jefferson Public Library asked for their users’ favorite thing about libraries, people gave a plethora of answers, including: “Art projects for the kids,” “Free WiFi,” and “They help with my tech questions.”

Heather Williams, who visits Johnson Creek Public Library, said, “My daughter loves to go “play” at our local library. She will help pick out books (she is 2.5 years old), go to the bins of toys, and start playing. She loves going every couple of weeks to get new books for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten [program]! We also love the ease of being able to return and check out books at the plethora of libraries available in the system…We always find what we are looking for and it saves us from having to buy books!”

What’s your library story?

There is no story too big or too small. Each one demonstrates that people use and value libraries for a multitude of reasons. While it’s fun to talk about loving our libraries, these stories also help us recognize how necessary libraries and their services are to a wide variety of people. It’s imperative that we don’t take the library for granted. A public institution dedicated to open access to information and ideas is a revolutionary idea, and our country is lucky enough to be full of these cornerstones of democracy. This month, think about your own reasons for using and appreciating a public library. Then share that story with someone and help spread the library love!

Want to share your story with us? Go to our form to tell us why you love libraries!

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.