Appreciate Your Local Library



When you and I are at school, we still have a great local library — in fact, the New York Public Library is the largest and one of the most active libraries in the country.


What do you picture when you think of a library?

Quinn Library? Good job; Fordham has indoctrinated you well.

A dusty old building full of never-touched vintage books? If your local library resembles that stock photo image of Trinity College’s renaissance-era building, or if it’s in Westeros, then that may be accurate, but most libraries are full of modern amenities — shelves of books and audiobooks, likely a children’s play area, sleek computers and meeting rooms available to rent.

Do you imagine an old doddering woman angrily shushing some rambunctious kids? If you’re on the quiet floor of a school library, that might be right. But a public library is made for kids to read, learn and play, and most of the staff at my library are under 30, not octogenarians.

After seeing this tweet in which the Twitter users ask for a model for renting books from bookstores, insisting that their form of book-renting is not what can be found in a library, I scoffed, but then realized — if people still think of libraries as beige, boring and stuck in the Bronze Age, a Netflix-style of renting books would make more sense than a big room of dusty, unread books.

Contrary to what many think, libraries arrived in the 21st century just like everyone else: at my library, there are a dozen computers and iPads available to use, and the collection of books is always growing. Children and teens can rent tablets with apps designed to teach about a specific subject or just for fun. They even have a 3D printer to be used for special occasions.

Most libraries also host programs throughout the year, such as storytime for toddlers or the summer reading program for all patrons. 

When you and I are at school, we still have a great local library — in fact, the New York Public Library (NYPL) is the largest and one of the most active libraries in the country, with 92 locations in the Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan. It, too, hosts thousands of events per year, including exhibitions on everything from Walt Whitman to Pride, that are free to all visitors.

Books, arguably the most vital part of a library, can be found in any format, from the average paperback to large print hardbacks to graphic novels to audiobooks on CD, MP3 and Playaway, a portable audio player. Of course, they also offer books online — depending on your library, you can freely access Hoopla, Overdrive, SimplyE and more. 

A card at NYPL, free with your Fordham ID as proof of residence, will grant you access to many of these with books and movies for school or leisure. When your philosophy professor assigns 15 books that are over $20 each, you can visit the Riverside branch and pick up most of them, without having to pay a dime! When you’re trying to escape the reality of having three essays to write in one week, you can check out a book at Riverside or use one of the many library apps to download an ebook or movie. 

You can check out any book the library has to offer, even ones outside the system — if one library doesn’t have a book, it can be ordered from another library system. How do you access page-to-screen books when the movie comes out? The library! From “Harry Potter” to “The Hate U Give,” your local library has multiple copies of these popular books and ones by authors whose names you’ve likely never heard.

Not only are libraries good for you as a patron, they also provide books and jobs for those who would not normally have them. Many libraries have a bookmobile, a van that takes books to people who cannot access regular branches, giving them direct access to books. At my library, adults with disabilities have custodial jobs, an opportunity for employment and responsibility they may not receive elsewhere. Many patrons visit the library so that they can access the free Wi-Fi, computers and printers, which may be necessary for school or job hunting.

By visiting your local library, you are helping not only yourself, but also the community around you. Libraries aren’t only for quiet study and seriousness; they are also for games and programs and enjoying yourself.

In response to those people on Twitter, there is a book rental service just like Netflix — it’s called a library, and it’s cheaper than any subscription service, too.