Loving Your Library
by Jillian Ocken
February is National Library Lovers’ Month, for people who pay attention to library-specific “holidays.” People share their love of libraries in many different ways, especially through stories, appropriately. At the Library, on the phone, in the checkout line at the grocery store, we hear so many stories: How a small town library inspired a lifelong reading habit. How a librarian helped find the resources that transformed a life. How the perfect book recommendation unlocked a child’s desire to learn to read. How a library felt like the last connection to a community. Librarians love to hear these stories. They keep us going and remind many of us why we do what we do.
Some people show their love for libraries by volunteering their time. At Ames Public Library we’re lucky to have a volunteer coordinator, who matches up a person’s skills to the tasks we need help with. Volunteers help us package books to send to other libraries’ patrons through interlibrary loan, they help us pull requested books from the shelves and get them to the proper spot on the holds shelves, they help dust shelves and clean windows, they help the Ames Public Library Friends Foundation sell books and organize fundraisers, and so much more! Even teenagers share their time and talents with the Library through the APL-Youth summer volunteer program and the Teen Advisory Group!
People also show their gratitude through donations to the Library’s Friends Foundation. There are many ways to donate to the Library, ranging from loose change to large bequests. With the Library’s recent removal of overdue fines, we hear a lot of people who want to share those quarters and dollars they would have paid for forgetting to bring their book back on time. It’s easy to drop those coins and bills into the donation bin in the Library’s lobby when you come to pick up your holds! The Ames Public Library Friends Foundation is also happy to set up a monthly donation, like you might have with NPR or other organizations.
Some of the smallest gifts make the biggest impressions. We’ve had children bring in their piggy banks to share their wealth with one of their favorite places in town. In fact, many families divide their allowances into “spend,” “save,” and “share” jars to help their children learn good habits with their money—saving a portion of everything they earn and thinking about how their wealth can be used to enrich others’ lives. We love to hear all the reasons kids decide to share with the Library!
The Library also receives many larger gifts from people who want to give back to their community. Some people make a habit of donating every year. Others are inspired by a special project that speaks to them: renovating the building, adding a special collection like STEM kits, or bringing a special speaker or event to Ames.
Some gifts come as a heartwarming surprise in the midst of grief. Just recently, a long-time library user passed away. For many years he had been homebound, so one of our librarians hand-picked books to be delivered to his home. They would talk about what he liked and didn’t like, what projects he was thinking of getting into, what new subject he wanted to explore, and life in general, and she would pick another big bag of books for him. The friendship that builds around a love of books and lifelong learning is a wonderful connection. Sometimes, words don’t feel like enough. This generous friend decided to share his gratitude by setting up a bequest to the Ames Public Library Friends Foundation, leaving a legacy for others who might also find connection and enrichment with their library.
We feel those connections. We know a conversation can be the bright spot in a hard day. We know the right book can be a lifeline, and a little help with a computer can become a job offer. We know, but it’s lovely to hear it. Thank you for being a part of our lives.