I am the branch manager of the Tahlequah Public Library and I have been working in libraries for over 20 years. I recently spoke with 90 first-graders from a local elementary school about being a librarian, and I started by telling them a story from my childhood.
My sister and I were a year and nine months apart and my mother made us do everything together. And while we were alike in a lot of ways, we were very different in others.
For instance, I fell in love with books from the moment I first learned to read. My sister, on the other hand, never liked to read. She just didn’t find enjoyment in it.
We moved a lot when I was a child, and so we didn’t have books in our homes, but no matter where we moved, my mother would always take me to the library and get me a library card.
As often as I could, I would drag my sister to the library to get books to read. She hated every minute of it and would follow me, saying, “Are you ready yet? Can we go now? Are you ready yet? Can we go now?” until I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I would check out my books and we would lug them home.
But I know why she hated libraries when we were children—because they only contained books. If you haven’t been to your local library recently, you would be shocked at what we offer now. A library is not only a place to get information, but also to find entertainment and enjoyment. We are no longer warehouses for books; now we check out audiobooks, video games, Chromebooks, hotspots, and a huge variety of non-traditional items from fishing poles to ukuleles, from board games to exercise equipment and tools of all kinds.
We have creative spaces in some branches that house Cricut machines, 3-D printers, and laser cutters. At my branch, we have a sewing machine and an embroidery machine; one patron made an entire quilt using those two items.
I think if my sister had access to the libraries of today, she would absolutely love them. She would have said, “Are you ready yet? I want to go to the library!” I would encourage you to check yours out today.
Cherokee Lowe is the branch manager of Tahlequah Public Library, a branch of the Eastern Oklahoma Library System.
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