Between the Pages of Your Local Library

Libraries. One of the things I have learned from working in libraries is that telling people that’s what you do almost always gets a positive response. Something like, “We LOVE libraries” or “We’re BIG readers.”

“That’s great,” I say as these kind people move on to talk to someone else at the fair or festival. If they do stay for a second, I ask them which location they visit (we have four) and what kinds of things they like to read. Lots of times, people admit to me that they haven’t been to the library since they were in school or since their kids were in school.

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Since the goal of library outreach is not to shame people about their library habits, I go on to tell them about what we have for whatever life stage they are facing now. We have services for teens, services for adults, services for students, job-seekers, home-seekers, readers, movie-lovers—I have a lot of cards in my deck.

Sometimes people are completely surprised to learn about all the things the library has to offer. Maybe we’ve just been off their radar for a while. That’s why I love my job. I do promotions and outreach for the Waco public library. I believe, like most librarians, that what we do is really important, but even more important is why we do what we do.

Libraries transform lives. More than a quarter of U.S. households don’t have an internet connection. At the public library, people of all ages can use computers with internet for free. We have free unlimited Wi-Fi, too (no purchase necessary). The internet access helps people apply for jobs, take online college classes and, yes, watch YouTube videos because fun is important too.

Libraries provide you with the tools to be an expert in anything. Learning new things makes your brain healthy, improves your mood and self-esteem, and makes life more interesting. Whether you are doing independent research with library resources (and librarian assistance) or attending a program, you can keep learning forever. We teach kids to code, teens to draw and adults to knit. Librarians are passionate advocates of lifelong learning, so if you have an interest, we will help you pursue it.

Libraries build strong communities. Starting with our youngest visitors, story time is a fun way to get kids excited about listening to reading. Listening to people read aloud improves literacy skills to help kids get ready for kindergarten and beyond. Stronger students turn into community leaders.

Teens have opportunities to socialize, learn about technology and more. They are excited about finding books to read that aren’t assigned or associated with classwork. They are comforted by meeting adults who don’t question their selections or judge their interests. Being a teenager is hard, and for some teens, the library is a sanctuary where they can find their place and be themselves.

Being an adult can be hard, too. People are communicating more but socializing less. Social events like book clubs and discussion groups can help you find new friends and new interests—especially if you’re new in town, newly married, a new parent, newly retired or just shy. We’re working with local businesses, too, to make sure that library users are exploring their community and investing in the future of Waco.

Just like Waco, libraries are a smart investment. Investing in the Library means so much more than opening your pockets. Visit us, use our resources, build a library habit! Tell your friends about the experiences you have.

Speaking of friends, become a member of the Friends of the Library and your hard work will be directly reflected in what the library offers in the future. Follow us on social media and engage with other library lovers. Stop by our table when you see us at community events. We are ready to meet you where you are!

For more information about the Waco-McLennan County Library, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit any of our four Waco locations.

headshotJessica is the Community Services Supervisor for the Waco-McLennan County Library. She loves “preaching the gospel of the library” and has been doing marketing, promotion and outreach for the Waco Library for almost three years. Before joining the Library team, Jessica worked for a decade in public education, as an aide, teacher and librarian. She loves how her new job lets her teach people of all ages about something she loves—the library! Jessica enjoys lots of hobbies, including cooking, disc golf and running. She loves to read (of course) and usually has three or four books open at a time. When she’s not doing outreach, Jessica spends a lot of time in a very lonely office, so be sure to say “hi” if you see the Library table at your next Waco event!

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