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17 Things You Didn't Know About Libraries, Told To You By Librarians

We can do more than fix the printer!!

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1. Not all libraries are the same.

"There are lots of types of libraries: public libraries, academic library, then also school libraries, independent research libraries, and special libraries (for law, theology, medicine, music, art). [...] Public libraries, like public schools, benefit or suffer from the associated tax dollars of the district they're in. I've lived in neighborhoods where the library's bathroom was a good place to do drugs and have also seen libraries so posh they're intimidating." —Erin M., Academic Librarian
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"There are lots of types of libraries: public libraries, academic library, then also school libraries, independent research libraries, and special libraries (for law, theology, medicine, music, art). [...] Public libraries, like public schools, benefit or suffer from the associated tax dollars of the district they're in. I've lived in neighborhoods where the library's bathroom was a good place to do drugs and have also seen libraries so posh they're intimidating."

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

2. Yes, kids still read!

"My middle school students come to the library to play games (Bananagrams and World of Warcraft are huge!) craft and color, and just hang out. That said, for all the talk of kids not reading books for fun anymore, we definitely do still have a reliable group of students who curl up on the couches to read every day during recess."— Manuela A., Middle School Librarian
Weedezign / Getty Images

"My middle school students come to the library to play games (Bananagrams and World of Warcraft are huge!) craft and color, and just hang out. That said, for all the talk of kids not reading books for fun anymore, we definitely do still have a reliable group of students who curl up on the couches to read every day during recess."

— Manuela A., Middle School Librarian

3. Some libraries even have fun activities like indoor climbing for kids.

A climbing wall? At the library? YUP! ➡️ https://t.co/sYWmypAuXp

"During one day in my library, children and teens learned basic sewing techniques, conquered fear on our 10’ by 10’ climbing wall, invented new games to play together, and took home about five pound bags of nutritious, easy to prepare food each.”

—Kayla Hoskinson, Children's Librarian, Free Library of Philadelphia

4. You don't even have to leave your bed to use the library.

“I wish more people knew that you can visit us online! Our streaming movies as well as our ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines can all be borrowed directly online! You can also take classes online and learn a new language, computer programming, business skills, or to play the guitar."—Jen Wright, Chief, Materials Management Division, Free Library of Philadelphia"Please mention WorldCat.org! Even if your library doesn't have the resource you need, they can help you borrow it from somewhere else." —Erin M., Academic Librarian
Tim Boyle / Getty Images

“I wish more people knew that you can visit us online! Our streaming movies as well as our ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines can all be borrowed directly online! You can also take classes online and learn a new language, computer programming, business skills, or to play the guitar."

—Jen Wright, Chief, Materials Management Division, Free Library of Philadelphia

"Please mention WorldCat.org! Even if your library doesn't have the resource you need, they can help you borrow it from somewhere else."

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

5. Most libraries are over the Dewey Decimal system, thanks!

"The Dewey Decimal System isn't really a thing in most libraries anymore. We mostly use the Library of Congress (LOC) classification and there's still a fair amount a lot of debate over subject headings (like some old-timey, outdated, racist ones)." — Erin M., Academic Librarian
Demaerre / Getty Images

"The Dewey Decimal System isn't really a thing in most libraries anymore. We mostly use the Library of Congress (LOC) classification and there's still a fair amount a lot of debate over subject headings (like some old-timey, outdated, racist ones)."

— Erin M., Academic Librarian

6. And librarians might not think your library jokes are that funny.

"All the Dewey Decimal system jokes are not funny and we've heard them before."—Jaime T., Librarian"Dewey was a straight up asshole, known for habitual sexual harassment and antisemitism. Please don't mention him at a party when I tell you I'm a librarian (or you will get a lecture)."—Erin M., Academic Librarian
Express / Getty Images

"All the Dewey Decimal system jokes are not funny and we've heard them before."

—Jaime T., Librarian

"Dewey was a straight up asshole, known for habitual sexual harassment and antisemitism. Please don't mention him at a party when I tell you I'm a librarian (or you will get a lecture)."

—Erin M., Academic Librarian

7. You can experiment with 3D printers and maker kits at some libraries.

"Many public libraries give people access to 3D printers, laser cutters, robotics, micro controllers, a way to learn about electronics and circuitry. Public libraries with Makerspace allow people to have a safe place to tinker, be creative, and try new things. Some public libraries will even let patrons check out “maker kits” to let people learn and experiment with some of these things at home and at their own pace."— Michelle L., Makerspace Librarian
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

"Many public libraries give people access to 3D printers, laser cutters, robotics, micro controllers, a way to learn about electronics and circuitry. Public libraries with Makerspace allow people to have a safe place to tinker, be creative, and try new things. Some public libraries will even let patrons check out “maker kits” to let people learn and experiment with some of these things at home and at their own pace."

— Michelle L., Makerspace Librarian

8. Despite what you've heard, there's rarely any shushing at the library.

"Public libraries aren't all about silence anymore. Local public libraries are community hubs filled with activity, and smaller branches might not always have a designated quiet-only area. Call ahead to see if your nearby library has private study rooms available, or else be prepared to work in a relatively bustling environment!"—Bianca H., Teen Librarian
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

"Public libraries aren't all about silence anymore. Local public libraries are community hubs filled with activity, and smaller branches might not always have a designated quiet-only area. Call ahead to see if your nearby library has private study rooms available, or else be prepared to work in a relatively bustling environment!"

—Bianca H., Teen Librarian

9. Some libraries don't even care about fines.

{\__/} ( • . •) wanna have these? / > 📚 {\__/} ( • . •) No problem! 📚 < \ 📚 we’re a library 📚📚 we don’t do fines 📚📚📚 fill your boots 📚📚📚📚with books!

"A lot of libraries are doing away with rules like "no talking in the library" and there's been a movement against late fees. They often don't provide significant income for libraries and all they do is shame people who can't afford the fees into never returning. Personally, I'll never insist that someone pay a fine if I can help it."

—Gina N., Public Librarian

10. Librarians really want you to give YA a chance.

"If you're looking for a story that doesn't involve drama between middle aged white people getting a divorce, consider something from the teen section! YA stories are a lot more forthcoming about including a range of diverse characters, and plot lines can be a lot more complex than you think!" —Bianca H., Teen Librarian
Manjunath Kiran / AFP / Getty Images

"If you're looking for a story that doesn't involve drama between middle aged white people getting a divorce, consider something from the teen section! YA stories are a lot more forthcoming about including a range of diverse characters, and plot lines can be a lot more complex than you think!"

—Bianca H., Teen Librarian

11. If you think your librarian is flirting with you, you're probably wrong.

As with other service workers, such as barista and waiters, it's part of the job to be at least nominally nice to people who come to the library. We're not flirting with you. Related, please don't touch the librarians.—Jaime T., Librarian
Keystone / Getty Images

As with other service workers, such as barista and waiters, it's part of the job to be at least nominally nice to people who come to the library. We're not flirting with you. Related, please don't touch the librarians.

—Jaime T., Librarian

12. Librarians have more expertise than you think.

"I'd like to point out that librarians are research EXPERTS. They often have multiple degrees and a subject specialty, such as Law, Art or Medicine! Having an expert in a field, that is also an expert on navigating research in that field, is an invaluable asset! So ask them about more than just how to print a document next time you're at the library—they'll love it!"—Eva I., Archivist
Luis Enrique Ascui / Getty Images

"I'd like to point out that librarians are research EXPERTS. They often have multiple degrees and a subject specialty, such as Law, Art or Medicine! Having an expert in a field, that is also an expert on navigating research in that field, is an invaluable asset! So ask them about more than just how to print a document next time you're at the library—they'll love it!"

—Eva I., Archivist

13. But we're not magic and we can't find books based on vague details.

"I worked at a Barnes & Noble for a few years before I went to library school and one scenario has carried over from bookselling days to librarian days, even in this digital age.Patron: I'm looking for a book. I can't remember the title. Or the author. It's a big book. With a red cover. Can you help me? Me: Of course I can help you! What is the book about? What class is it for? Is it for a research paper?Me, in my head: Grrr! No title, no author, nothing?!"—V.S., Librarian
Inewsistock / Getty Images

"I worked at a Barnes & Noble for a few years before I went to library school and one scenario has carried over from bookselling days to librarian days, even in this digital age.

Patron: I'm looking for a book. I can't remember the title. Or the author. It's a big book. With a red cover. Can you help me?

Me: Of course I can help you! What is the book about? What class is it for? Is it for a research paper?

Me, in my head: Grrr! No title, no author, nothing?!"

—V.S., Librarian

14. Libraries fit a lot into a day.

“In our Culinary Literacy Center, in a 24-hour span, it’s typical that we’ll teach 30 third graders about preservation while making 'quickles' then flip the room so that it’s ready for twenty-five adults from across the city can learn how to make donuts, butcher a goat, or can peach jam.”—Liz Fitzgerald, Director of the Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia
Yotka / Getty Images

“In our Culinary Literacy Center, in a 24-hour span, it’s typical that we’ll teach 30 third graders about preservation while making 'quickles' then flip the room so that it’s ready for twenty-five adults from across the city can learn how to make donuts, butcher a goat, or can peach jam.”

—Liz Fitzgerald, Director of the Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia

15. You don't need white gloves to handle rare books. They can actually do more harm than good.

No, we don't have to wear white cotton gloves to handle rare or fragile materials! While skin oils can do damage to some materials, most things can be (gently!) handled with (clean!) bare hands. In fact, wearing white cotton gloves can lead to more damage, because our fingers are less dexterous, especially when the gloves don't fit snugly. For occasional thing, such as old film or photographs that shouldn't be in direct contact with our skin, it's better to wear nitrile gloves.—Jaime T., Librarian
Jekesai Njikizana / AFP / Getty Images

No, we don't have to wear white cotton gloves to handle rare or fragile materials! While skin oils can do damage to some materials, most things can be (gently!) handled with (clean!) bare hands. In fact, wearing white cotton gloves can lead to more damage, because our fingers are less dexterous, especially when the gloves don't fit snugly. For occasional thing, such as old film or photographs that shouldn't be in direct contact with our skin, it's better to wear nitrile gloves.

—Jaime T., Librarian

16. Libraries are on the front lines when it comes to drug addiction.

At New Haven Free Public Library, where city health dept. will dispense free Narcan kits #NHV #OverdoseAware2016

"If you are considering becoming a librarian at a public branch, be prepared to serve on the front lines. You have to help people do a lot more than just find a book. Some of my friends at other branches took elective training on how to administer Narcan because of the drug problems in their branch communities.

I know what crack smells like now because of this job."

—Bianca H., Teen Librarian

17. TLDR; Libraries can help you in so many different facets of life, from picking up a new skill to preparing for a job interview.

“In addition to having an abundance of great books, libraries also ensure access to all things inspirational and educational. At the Free Library of Philadelphia you can borrow a musical instrument or a tie for a job interview, and while you’re here, you can use a computer, take a cooking class or learn English through programs at our Culinary Literacy Center or get free headshots taken at our Business Resource and Innovation Center.”—Jenn Donsky, Communications Coordinator and Librarian, Free Library of Philadelphia"Libraries are community centers, heritage preservation and dissemination sites, they're embracing the digital humanities and empowering users through education and access. A library is a radical concept."—Eva I, Archivist
Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

“In addition to having an abundance of great books, libraries also ensure access to all things inspirational and educational. At the Free Library of Philadelphia you can borrow a musical instrument or a tie for a job interview, and while you’re here, you can use a computer, take a cooking class or learn English through programs at our Culinary Literacy Center or get free headshots taken at our Business Resource and Innovation Center.”

—Jenn Donsky, Communications Coordinator and Librarian, Free Library of Philadelphia

"Libraries are community centers, heritage preservation and dissemination sites, they're embracing the digital humanities and empowering users through education and access. A library is a radical concept."

—Eva I, Archivist

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