Posted on June 29, 2017
Libraries are Important
One of the favorite destinations during our travels has been to the public library.It is one of those places that you know you can find wherever you are in the world…until you don’t find it. Being in the habit of visiting libraries as we travel, it came as a surprise when I was not able to find one in Morocco. It caused me to think about why I love libraries so much.
First, I love to read. I grew up in a family that did not watch T.V. Playing outdoors, using our imagination and reading was highly encouraged. I spent most of the summer on my bed, under my homemade tent, trying to read two books a day. I loved going to the library and roaming through the shelves looking for more books to read. Since Bean’s birth, we’ve spent loads of time at the library. She has come to love it as much as I have.
Here are a few reasons we love libraries:
I am amazed that many people don’t know what is going on at the public library. Libraries offer more than a quiet place to read and access to lots of free reading material. We have been to many fun and amazing events. We have seen previews of plays from the local theater, and free tickets to the real show. We have been introduced to birds of prey from the nature center, well known puppet shows, Latin American storytelling troupes, weekend long craft events celebrating our favorite stories, Lego building nights, movies, dress up and more. It was all free! These events took place in libraries all over the country. I am convinced, libraries are important and essential to every community.
2. Conversation Groups-
I am a language learner and Bean is as well. Libraries offer many opportunities to interact with other language learners. It is an opportunity to listen and learn or participate as you feel comfortable. There is no fee to join.There are varying levels of language learners in the same group. The more that you go back, the more you get to know the people in the group. They may turn into life long friends.
Libraries offer many classes for a variety of interest. This is what happens to interest Bean and I. I recently visited a library where every single meeting room was full. Each one was holding a class. People were connecting with each other and actively pursuing an area of interest. This, to me, is the purpose of the public library.
3. Museum Passes and more-
In Chicago, one of my favorite perks to having a library card was checking out a museum pass. All of the museums in Chicago were free when using the pass to that particular museum. Bean and I visited almost all of the museums in Chicago, just by owning a library card. I know not all cities have the funds to offer such an incentive, but they may offer something. One city offered the use of Tumblebooks through its card. I was thankful to have access to that subscription based website for free. There are many online educational websites that offer free access with a library card. Also, some magazine and movie streaming sites may also offer access with a library card. I don’t use everything that my library card can give me, but I like to know that it is there if I am interested.
Many libraries now have online library services. I am thrilled that not only can I go to a book sale, sponsored by the friends of the library, and buy a book for $1, but I can also go online and get a huge assortment of audio-books and e-books. This has proven to be an excellent way for me to continue reading as we travel without lugging heavy books around everywhere. I love the feel of holding a book in my hand. I love it just as much to check out ten books from the library that I can read and/or listen to on my phone. It helps Bean to continue improving her reading when English books are hard to find.
With all of the things there are to love about the library, it is hard to imagine what a disadvantage children face when they do not have access to one. I looked at the children in Morocco and thought about other children in other countries who have the same problem. Libraries are a part of Bean’s education. How is their education going to be affected by the lack of a public library? Even if we only used the library for reading books, where will these children get their reading material? At their schools? Maybe. Online? Maybe. I know that there are many children who have a love of reading much like my own. I am sure they will find a way to read whatever they get their hands on. I hope they do.
As for Bean and myself, we will continue to find libraries as we travel around the world. Other travelers may think we are wasting our time, but we think of libraries as one of our top travel destination locations! I did a small video about my views on libraries here. In a few days, you can see a few libraries we have visited. The videos are definitely NOT professional, but I put it up anyway because I felt it was important to share. I want to share our love of libraries and encourage others to love their library too. We are fortunate to have access to free, public libraries. What is the best thing you have experienced through the local library?