Oct. 30, 2022: Libraries
Libraries have long been an integral part of a community. Whether it is a small-town library that is housed in a renovated home, or a towering skyscraper that anchors a downtown, libraries have always been where people go to read, gather, learn, research, connect, get lost, or find themselves.
While the proliferation of virtual gathering spaces and the accessibility of digital works has grown, there have been those who question whether an actual physical library is necessary for a community.
My answer is a resounding yes.
Last weekend I had the honor of participating in an Author Event at our downtown library. While it was exciting to gather with other local writers, set up our tables, and greet and chat with readers, the most heartwarming part for me, was just being in such a magical place and being part of the soul of the neighborhood.
The Orange County Library system here in Orlando is enormous. With 14 branches, they employ about 350 people. They have a collection numbering over 1.7 million, and they have a budget in the millions. However, far from being a monstrous, faceless, corporation, they are truly the heart and soul of the community.
Sunday afternoon at the library. There were entire families that arrived with tote bags of books to return, and then the excitement of scattering to find this week’s books that would be checked out. Children climbing through the “castle” in the children’s section, pretending to be characters from a book they had just read. People arriving to attend one of the many free classes being offered, including everything from sewing to coding classes. A community group, holding their monthly meeting in one of the many rooms available. Giving people access to computers and technology they might not have at home and families borrowing videos for family movie nights, libraries are so much more than just a place to house books.
Some areas of the library are a bustle of activity, as children gather for a story to be read by a librarian, while other areas are quiet, as people take advantage of the peace to read by a window, or spread out papers on a table to study.
The diversity of the community is reflected in the varied offerings and activities that filled the library. Offerings that are available to all.
That is the power and the magic of a library.