Let’s Connect Some Dots!

Close your eyes for a moment. Now, imagine someone has whispered the word “library” in your ear. Tell me what you see. Do you see a place full of books, books that can connect you with stories about people you’ll never meet but who seem to know just who you are, books that can connect you to places you’ve never been but long to go, books that can connect you to recipes, so you can prepare a fabulous dinner party for your friends, books that, basically, can help you do or learn about anything you desire? Good! You should envision all that. You should envision a place that connects you, whether you love to learn in traditional ways or see yourself as a non-traditional learner, with all the resources you’ll ever need for your journey as a life-long learner.

Now, open our eyes and imagine someone has placed a connect-the-dots puzzle in front of you. The puzzle is entitled “The Library: The Great Equalizer”. You begin to connect the dots in that area down in the bottom corner where you see what looks like a book shelf, the shelf that represents the library you just saw in your head. But look! You’ve finished this section, and that’s only a very small part of this puzzle. There still seem to be so many dots left to connect. You keep going, and what do you see the lines you’re drawing becoming? Well, to the left of the books is a room where a knitting club is busy working on its latest project, where people who love to knit have connected with each other for this once-a-week chance to catch up with friends while working on blankets and scarves and mittens.

You keep connecting the dots and discover that over here, you’ve created lines that portray banks and banks of computers. People are using these computers to search and apply for jobs, to connect with friends on social media, to find out where to eat and stay in this town they are visiting, to research an animal for a school project, to find newspaper and magazine articles about an issue important to them. And they’re not alone. There’s a librarian, right there, who knows how to help them navigate the Internet to help them find what they need and want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The computer center is now solid lines, but there are more dots to connect. Over here, in this part of the puzzle, there is another group gathered around a white board. People are learning about and discussing a new proposal from the township that will be voted on soon. And in another part of the puzzle, people are gathered together to discuss a new bestselling novel. Keep going, and you find you’ve connected areas where people can check out DVDs and audiobooks and Kindles (loaded with too many titles to count, for those who might be a bit embarrassed to arrive at the check out desk with too many books to count).

Soon, you’ve connected everything that is inside the frame of a building. You’re looking at it and thinking, —All this for free—this vibrant and dynamic community for free? For anybody?  The answer is “Yes”—All this for free. For anybody! The only thing you need to do is register for a library card. But you notice You’re not yet done.

Outside that building, there are more dots to connect. Here’s someone sitting at home, working on his computer. He’s connecting to the library to see if it has any books on Japan, where he’s traveling on business next month. It does. He puts reserves on them right from his home, and in a few days, he’ll be able to go pick them up. There’s a woman out jogging. She’s got her smart phone with her and head phones in her ears. She’s listening to an audiobook she downloaded from the library. There’s a guy on an airplane. He’s renewing the books he forgot to renew before he set off for his ten-day vacation. There’s a kid, sitting in study hall at school, using his lap top to access the library’s databases so he can write his report on terrorist attacks that have occurred this year around the world.

Your puzzle is done. What an amazing place, huh? Now, close your eyes again. Someone whispers “library” in your ear. Do you see it? Do you see the great equalizer, the place that is connecting people, connecting them to jobs and technology and entertainment and culture and friends and their community? Do you see a community center full of possibilities for learning and growing? Do you see staff members willing and trained to help you make connections? All of this and more, and all free! Visit your local library and start making your own connections today.

X

The federal government funds public libraries.

False. Lancaster County’s public libraries raise a substantial portion of their budgets through fundraising efforts Lancaster County’s libraries far exceed the national average.

All libraries have the same hours of operation.

False. Visit the individual library’s page for hours at your local library.

Many public libraries in Lancaster County have a book shop that is open year round.

True. Check with your local public library if they have a library book shop. In fact, the Lancaster Public Library also has an off-site book store at 225 North Marshall Street in Lancaster.

You can use the Library's online research tools such as ProQuest for homework and research papers at home.

True. Visit the website and enter your library card number for access to the websites. http://online.lancasterlibraries.org/

Our libraries seem to have plenty of staff and in some instances appear to have too many.

False. It’s important to keep in mind many of the people you see stacking shelves or assisting in the library are actually volunteers.

I don't know how to set up an email account and the libraries do not offer computer help.

False. Several libraries offer help with email account set up, searching the Internet, and using Windows. Click here for the library overview of services to learn more.

You have to return a book to the same library that you checked it out from.

False. You can return a book to any library in the Library System of Lancaster County.

100% of funding for public libraries comes from the state government?

False. While the state of Pennsylvania does help support your local library, these dollars are prone to cuts and are inconsistent from year to year. For most libraries, these dollars account for a very small portion of their overall budget. Your public library counts on local support and contributions through fundraising to raise the majority of their annual budget.