7 American Libraries That Bring Communities Together
Libraries are important institutions that give people a place to gather, learn, and better themselves. Offering everything from educational programming for children to helpful resources for adults, they are a part of life in communities across the country. The seven libraries listed here house impressive collections and provide a space for people to both find knowledge and have fun. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
Remarkable Libraries In America
|Alexandria Library||Alexandria, VA|
|ImagineIF Libraries||Flathead County, MT|
|Madison Public Library||Madison, WI|
|Henderson Libraries||Henderson, NV|
|Erie County Public Library||Erie County, PA|
|Stockbridge Library||Stockbridge, MA|
|Lake Forest Library||Lake Forest, IL|
Important Literacy Statistics
- 12%: Percentage of world population that could read and write in 1820
- 86%: Percentage that could read and write in 2015
- 2/3: Illiterate people worldwide who are women
- 85%: Juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system that are functionally illiterate
- More than 60%: Prison inmates who are functionally illiterate
- 90%: Welfare recipients who are high school dropouts
- 2/3: Students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade that end up in jail or on welfare
- 53%: Percentage of fourth grade students who said they read for recreation
- 20%: Percentage of eighth grade students who said the same
- 30 million: Number of U.S. adults who cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level
- 1/6: Young adults who drop out of high school
The Origins & Importance Of Libraries
How to Encourage Kids to Read
A great way to start is to get a bookshelf for your child's room. If they have access to their own collection of books, it'll be easy for them to read at their own pace. And if they're looking at the shelf everyday, reading will always be on their mind. It's also important to give your kids a comfortable place to sit. This can be anything from a rocking chair to a couch to a dedicated reading nook. If they have a space that's just for them, it makes reading time all the more special. As they grow, your young ones will start to read more challenging books with words they don't know. Encourage them to look up unfamiliar terms in the dictionary so they can expand their vocabulary. Finally, if you're having trouble getting your kid interested in books in the first place, try bridging the gap between visual media and literature with graphic novels.
Why Reading Matters
Civic spaces play an important role in forging strong communities, offering public venues for people to interact and collaborate. In many towns and cities throughout America, this vital function is served by local libraries. As institutions built around providing public access to knowledge and entertainment, they are well-positioned to offer the kinds of educational and recreational programs that bring people together. In no particular order, here are seven libraries that help families and neighbors make connections in the places they live.
Starting us off at #1 is the Alexandria Library, located in the Virginia city of the same name, which seeks to provide citizens with opportunities for discovery and connection. This community institution, dating back to the eighteenth century, strives for excellence in both traditional library services and its online platforms. Its branch locations continue to serve as spaces where residents can gather to learn, discuss, and create.
Alexandria Library patrons can partake in a varied calendar of events, including educational entertainment like historical reenactments and author talks, as well as community gatherings and heritage celebrations. There are many offerings to promote learning and literacy among children, from science workshops to crafting classes. And the extensive book collections are set up for easy exploration by means of searchable databases and helpful staff suggestions. Supporters can donate to the Alexandria Library Foundation or assist as volunteers.
Supporters can donate to the Alexandria Library Foundation or assist as volunteers.
Entry #2 is ImagineIF Libraries, a network of centers for exploration and creativity located in Montana's Flathead County. They offer activities and resources to help people of all ages bring their dreams to life, ranging from interactive education for children to career coaching for teens and adults. Events like Making Montana, an exhibition of local innovators and employers, or pub trivia nights with questions supplied by librarians, give community members a chance to come together for connection and learning.
Though they treasure their catalog, ImagineIF Libraries views their mission as more than storing books. They seek to partner with educators, inspire curiosity in young people, and give the public the tools to express themselves or improve their lives. Initiatives like gardening workshops and interactive storytelling help to nurture community through learning, connecting patrons face-to-face. Those who wish to support these efforts can volunteer their time or donate to the ImagineIF Library Foundation.
Next on the list is #3, the Madison Public Library, based in Wisconsin's capital. Along with its lovingly curated collection, this civic institution works to engage, educate, and empower the community. Activities for children, like interactive playtime and summer reading clubs, spark enthusiasm for learning; meanwhile, programs for youth and adults offer venues for creative expression and cultural enrichment. The Library also hosts practical services for residents, such as tax preparation assistance and voter registration.
Activities for children, like interactive playtime and summer reading clubs, spark enthusiasm for learning; meanwhile, programs for youth and adults offer venues for creative expression and cultural enrichment.
Among Madison Public Library's most important resources is the Bubbler, an initiative dedicated to strengthening the community through the arts. Staff members work with students and at-risk youth, helping them find creative outlets and make connections. The Library's many branch locations also provide spaces for celebrations of literature and culture. Readers who want to support this institution's efforts on behalf of the City of Madison can donate to fund their programs.
At #4 we have Henderson Libraries, a community anchor for their southern Nevada town. They serve as a home for a wide variety of entertaining activities for young learners, like the Reading with Rover program, which encourages literacy through assistance from therapy dogs, or group story readings. There are also numerous educational options and literary gatherings for adults, and youth engagement efforts such as the annual Teen Writing Contest.
As well as a space for reading and learning, Henderson Libraries act as centers for community services, organizing activities like clothing drives to support local residents in need. They are committed to promoting acceptance and inclusion, with LGBTQ-friendly offerings and specialized film screenings for individuals with disabilities. And they continue to invite patrons to come together for education and enjoyment. The Henderson Libraries Foundation welcomes donations at any level to help fund their work.
And they continue to invite patrons to come together for education and enjoyment.
Up next is #5, the Erie County Public Library, serving the citizens of northwestern Pennsylvania. Their central location, the Raymond M. Blasco M.D. Memorial Library, played a key role in the revitalization of the county seat's historic waterfront district. Today the institution serves as a home for a wealth of informational resources, as well as for community events like literary readings and concerts. It also offers patrons a relaxing space to view the harbor.
The Erie County Public Library provides a wide variety of educational programs for area residents, from classes on auto repair to workshops on creative crafting. They have numerous offerings geared towards children, helping to build knowledge and encourage a love of books, along with all-ages events like the Erie Library Comic Con. There are many options for those looking to support the organization, such as purchases at their book sale or gift shop, as well as direct donations to the Foundation.
#6 in our rundown is the Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives, founded in 1862 and forming an important part of the town's history and communal life. Though it has updated its services to stay with the times, with digital amenities and a robust online database, the building has retained its distinctive character. The Jackson Wing, the Library's oldest section, serves as a historical showpiece and as the location of adult fiction and the children's catalog.
Though it has updated its services to stay with the times, with digital amenities and a robust online database, the building has retained its distinctive character.
As well as providing a beautiful venue for the enjoyment of books, the Stockbridge Library plays host to numerous community events. With live readings in period dress, art exhibitions, and concerts for all ages, the programs offered there let locals come together and connect. Past features have included talks from visiting authors and Halloween-themed story sessions for children. The Stockbridge Library Association gratefully accepts donations to keep this home for literature and history alive.
We'll close our list with #7, Lake Forest Library, an important cultural touchstone for the town of Lake Forest, Illinois. Designed by acclaimed architect Edwin H. Clark - known for buildings like Chicago's Brookfield Zoo - the structure is built around a domed rotunda which houses an extensive collection of art. Notable pieces within include The Archer, a stone relief by Norwegian sculptor Oskar J. W. Hansen, and the Poets and Writers of Antiquity mural series. The exterior of the facility also features works such as the standing sculpture Ex Libris.
More than just an impressive art gallery, Lake Forest Library is a home for readers and local residents to gather. Programs such as Family Storytime offer entertaining activities for children, while author presentations and wellness classes give adults the chance to learn and enjoy themselves as well. The space also hosts community services like voter registration assistance. Individuals interested in supporting the Library can make a purchase at their book sales, give directly, or pitch in as volunteers.