Local libraries celebrated during National Library Week

April 9, 2019 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — Libraries used to be a place where you were expected to be quiet and checkout books. Today, they provide a wealth of support not only through reading, but through a variety of programs and supports for the members of its communities.

As libraries around the nation celebrate National Library Week April 7-13, they are showcasing how they help support strong communities.

Libraries have become a place of value that impacts its patrons in a positive way.

“They provide a public space where all community members, regardless of age, culture or income level, can come together to connect and learn,” said Harriett Aden, president of Friends of the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library. “Far from becoming obsolete, libraries today offer so much more than ‘just books.’”

Library Director Noelle Thompson said libraries play an essential role in preserving a free-thinking, well-balanced, informed democracy.

“Communities that prioritize their libraries are more literate, are better connected with one another and have stronger economies,” Thompson said.

Libraries have always been a source of information and enlightenment. Thompson said books are one of the main vehicles of education, but libraries use any and all tools necessary to provide equal and equitable access to information, including public computers, meeting rooms, toys, gadgets, art, experts and makerspaces.

One offering provided by the public library and essential to learning is a free and public space — space to debate, collaborate, innovate and play in a safe, warm, welcoming environment, Thompson said.

“These spaces can get loud and messy, but sometimes that’s what learning looks like,” Thompson said.

Tuesday, April 9, is National Library Workers Day and patrons can thank library staff for the work they do, but any day is a good one to let staff know you appreciate what they do for the community.

During library week, three raffle baskets will be given away at the end of the week that represent this year’s National Library Week theme: Libraries = Strong Communities. To enter, just visit the library this week.

Thompson is also asking everyone who visits to write on a sign in the library the reason they visited the library.

“In honor of poetry month as well, we encourage patrons to sit at our typewriter and display their poetry,” Thompson said. “We want them to do this so we can display it and show off how versatile our services are.”

Aden said by showing your support publicly, it allows libraries to receive much-needed funding as well as letting staff know hey are appreciated. The community has rallied around the library before in competitions as well as at city council meetings.

Aden has been a fan of the library since she was a child. It is a place where she has been able to find a book, movie or audio book that transports her to other places and times.

“For me, it’s been a fixture of my life — a place where I can find answers on my own or find someone to help me look for information,” Aden said.

The recent Innovation Studio, which was on loan to the library for a few months, saw hundreds of new patrons come to see what was new at the library. The studio was not only popular for the items patrons could create, it brought in people who had not visited the library in several years. Those new faces saw the multitude of services, programs and collections available for free every day.

“Libraries welcome everyone and are an integral part of any community,” Aden said. “We are so luck to have the facility and staff that we have in the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library — along with the libraries in our schools, WNCC and the Gering Public Library.”

Thompson said the best thing about the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library is the patrons. Librarian Assistant Peggie Michael said patrons are the hub of the library. The patrons know the library has a community atmosphere and is a place to enjoy, Michael said.

“They come in to find answers, get information and share an experience,” Michael said. “Visit the library today and see why we’re the community’s living room.”