What Libraries Do

Libraries are places of information. When most people think "library" they think books. And while that is certainly true, these days books take different shapes, such as e-books and audio books. More than just books, libraries are places of information, offering people free access to a wealth of information that they often can't find elsewhere, whether online, in print or in person. Whether they're looking for DVDs or the latest best-seller; health or business information found  on internet databases not accessible at home, or going for story times and community programming, the library is a center of community for millions of people. 

America's 123,000 libraries fall into four basic types (with a few added variations): Public, School, Academic and Special. There are also Armed Forces libraries, Government libraries and multi-use or Joint-Use libraries, which combine library types in one service area or structure. Learn more about America's libraries

At the center of all types of libraries is the librarian. Librarians are information experts, selecting books relevant to the community, creating helpful programming, and connecting people to information. 

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

Neil Gaiman, Author

Libraries are community hubs. In addition to connecting people to information, libraries connect people to people. They are safe havens for kids when school is not in session, offering after school homework help, games and book clubs. Libraries offer computer classes, enabling older adults stay engaged in a digital world. Bookmobiles and community outreach programs keep those living in remote areas or those who are housebound connected to the larger community. 

Provide Access

Libraries level the playing field. As great democratic institutions, serving people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability, and providing the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work.

Libraries are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a global information society: the ability to read and use computers.

Libraries are advocates for your right to read and your right to reader privacy.

Innovate

Libraries are places for community engagement, a platform for great minds to come together. The way people are using our libraries is changing as fast as technology is changing society. Increasingly, libraries are becoming a place for creation and collaboration. 

Related Articles

Video games and libraries are a good mix, say librarians

Walk into any public library and, of course, you see books, reference materials, newspapers, magazines, and all types of the printed word. We might also see comic books, manga, and less traditional “literature.” These days, we encounter film, television, music, internet-connected computers, and other digital media. But video games?

Libraries lend video games, and they have been for some time. Some folks might think video games have no place in public institutions. Some articles on the web assume that readers will cringe when they hear that this is happening.  Libraries and librarians, however, seem to overwhelmingly support the practice.

Video games and libraries are a good mix, say librarians

Walk into any public library and, of course, you see books, reference materials, newspapers, magazines, and all types of the printed word. We might also see comic books, manga, and less traditional “literature.” These days, we encounter film, television, music, internet-connected computers, and other digital media. But video games?

Libraries lend video games, and they have been for some time. Some folks might think video games have no place in public institutions. Some articles on the web assume that readers will cringe when they hear that this is happening.  Libraries and librarians, however, seem to overwhelmingly support the practice.

What's your library worth?

CalculatorFind out how much you would have to pay for the library materials and services you use if you had to purchase them with our library value calculator.

Meet the winners of the 2014 I Love My Libraria Award

Real Stories

Jenn from California

"What could be better than meeting up at your local library for storytime with other moms who are looking for something fun, organized and free?"

The library has been a staple part of our activities and schedule for as long as I can remember being a mom. What could be better than meeting up at your local library for storytime with other moms who are looking for something fun, organized and free?