February is known as the month for romantic love. We wear the color red and give special things to our sweetheart. But who’s to say we can’t fall in love with our public library too.
National Library Lovers Month
February is also National Library Lovers Month where the focus is on reading and the institutions that provide books. It is a time to honor and recognize the important role that libraries play in the community. For my reading enjoyment, there are two go-to libraries I personally use. The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled and Bookshare.
But there is also a third option. I use my public library right in my neighborhood. Although I am blind, this library is inclusive and available for everyone. Here’s 7 reasons why.
Books in Alternative Format
1. Local public libraries supply books in audio format and large print. Their collection might be limited but it is available. I have checked out books on CD many times from my public library and members of my book club have gotten the large print version. Also, books are available in electronic format in audio and ePub on smartphone apps. My favorite one is Hoopla. It is fairly accessible with Voiceover on my iPhone. I can check out a certain number of books, magazines, movies and music per month via my public library card. Plus I can get them through instant download so there is no wait time. WooHoo!
Low Vision Aides and Devices
2. Some public libraries offer low vision aids and devices. Hand-held magnifiers, CC-TVs and magnifying screen overlays can be found to assist with reading printed materials while at the library. If you are low vision ask about these devices at the circulation desk.
Stay Connected to Community
3. The public library helps me stay connected to my community. Sometimes being visually impaired is isolating and struggling to connect is hard. Many times, I have attended events like county/city meetings, forums and town halls. At these events I have not only kept up with current happenings but made connections and bult relationships with people in my community.
4. Many public libraries are voting precincts use for early voting and special elections. I have voted several times at my local public library. I have found it easier, faster and more convenient to vote there than the precinct on my voter’s registration card. Contact your voter’s registration office for more details on this option.
As a side note. A couple of years ago my public library conducted a demonstration of the new paper ballot machines when they were rolling out in my state. I attended and learned how to vote with the new machines and was ready to go when the next election came up.
Classes and Events
5. Public libraries host special classes and events. At my library I have attended so many special community events. For example, I went to an arts and crafts class where I learned how to make homemade sugar scrub. There have also been classes like yoga, personal finance, home ownership, and even movie nights. Over the past several years I have attended numerous author lecture discussions where the author will do a reading and Q&A afterward. I especially love these author events because I get to engage with the author, learn about their latest book and get it signed. Book festivals are another library special event. These events bring out tons of book lovers and enthusiast. You get to hear lots of authors share about their books, get them signed and interact with others like yourself.
6. Public libraries host monthly book discussions. Besides reading books, I love attending book discussions. I attend two at my public library. We meet monthly via Zoom because of the pandemic. But before COVID we met in person, one met at the library and the other met at a local restaurant for dinner and discussion.
Passes to Cultural Activities
7. Some libraries offer free passes to the zoo, parks and museums. These passes are typically first come first serve. Just ask the librarian at the circulation desk for more details.