The Lilac Girls.

Black Panther.

Dragons Love Tacos.

There are stories everywhere you turn in a library. Shelves upon shelves of books and movies, television shows and magazines, all bursting with stories full of emotions, struggles, humor, and beauty that teach us what it means to live and to be human. We learn and make sense of the world around us through stories. The public library collects and shares stories and information so that we may all find common ground, understanding, and even a new perspective.

But the stories on our shelves are not the only ones we care about. We also care about the individual stories of the people who come through our doors. The people we see every day as well as the ones we’ve just met. Those who come looking for something, anything, everything, and turn to the library to find it. At the library, we care about what they need and how we can help. Because we know that everyone’s story matters.

In February, for Library Lovers Month, public libraries across Jefferson County asked library users to share their stories about why they love the library and why the library matters to them. And the responses have been inspiring to read. Stories range from comments on social media, “For a small town library, the resources, programming, and amenities are top notch. Not to mention the kindness and familiarity of the staff,” said one Karl Junginger Memorial Library patron- to full-length paragraphs. Bonnie, a patron at the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson wrote that, “I have moved several times during my adult life….I have learned that in order to feel at home in my new community I need to find new people and places. We moved again a few years ago. My local public library quickly became a favorite and welcoming place. Not long after we moved to Fort Atkinson, a library staff person greeted me by name as I entered the building. Her kindness moved me almost to tears. I was no longer a stranger, someone knew me.”

When Watertown Public Library asked for their users’ favorite thing about libraries, Patti wrote that, “I can put a book on hold and be notified via text that it’s in. I love self-checkout and that there are book club bags available.”

There is no story too big or too small. Each one demonstrates that people use and value libraries for a multitude of reasons. While it’s fun to talk about loving our libraries, these stories also help us recognize how necessary libraries and their services are to a wide variety of people.

It’s imperative that we don’t take the library for granted. A public institution dedicated to open access to information and ideas is a revolutionary idea, and our country is lucky enough to be full of these cornerstones of democracy. This month, think about your own reasons for using and appreciating a public library. Then share that story with someone and help spread the library love.

Jill Fuller is the coordinator of marketing and communications with the Bridges Library System, of which the Karl Junginger Memorial Library is a member.

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