A love letter to public libraries

A bookshelf with square shelves in a 5x7 grid about half full of books.  Light bulbs hang down in front and there is a large colorful painting of spice plies hanging from the ceiling in the upper right corner. There are potted ferns and a person in a backpack and striped shirt in the background.
Photo by Pew Nguyen from Pexels
November 30, 2020
Robin Eastman

I love walking into a library. There are all the books: the endless worlds and ideas all neatly sorted and cross-referenced so anyone can walk in and find something useful, or challenging, or eye-opening.

There’s more than that, too. Public libraries are one of the only spaces that are truly welcoming with no expectation that you will spend money while you’re there. You’re encouraged to browse, to find a quiet reading corner, and to stay as long as you like. There are public meeting rooms and study nooks. There’s community art and programs for readers of all ages. There’s wifi and computers you can use if you need to fill out a job application, but also if you want to access your favorite fanfic. There isn’t judgement at a public library. You aren’t required to be productive to be there.

And there are librarians! Do you know how wonderful librarians are? They are experts at helping you find what you need. Yes, search engines are great, but if you have a really thorny question, I highly recommend you take it to a librarian. They will save you hours of work. While you’re at it, ask for a book recommendation and they’ll most likely introduce you to a new favorite.

My company was having a branding brainstorming meeting (still a work in progress), and someone asked about positioning. We’re creating a platform for online conferences. What do we want our space to resemble? A convention center? A business center? Las Vegas?

None of those are right for who we are. We want something community oriented. Something like a public library. A place you could hold a professional meeting, but also a place you could have a family reunion, or a sci-fi con. A place that is warm and welcoming and feels like a home away from home. A place that encourages you to be yourself, and learn and grow with the people you meet there.

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