I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have, and utilize, a library card.

My local public library closed at 5:00 this evening. I am a huge fan of public libraries and have great respect for all who make libraries such a welcoming place for our entire community, so I have no issues with helping them stay safe and healthy. And before they closed, they extended all my due dates for a month, so I’m good with that.

Photo by Jouwen Wang on Unsplash

Since I figured it was going to close at some point, I checked some stuff out in advance. But I also know that even if I finish those books, modern public libraries won’t let me down. You see, at any hour of the day, whether the library is open or closed, I can check out digital books (if someone else didn’t get to them first) and download them immediately to my Kindle or other reader. Within minutes, I can begin something new.

I believe this also works for audio books, but since I can’t listen to fiction, I’m not sure about that.

I don’t know how your local public library’s website works, but on the search page, mine lets me limit my search to Downloadables, and then by type of book, like suspense or speculative fiction or romance or historical. Or, if you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can search by author or title. So many options.

Public libraries are just one of the places I learned to love history. Let me tell you, when I was a pre-teen I could spot a gothic book cover from anywhere in the library.

So here is a little history.

Between 1883 and 1929, philanthropist and businessman Andrew Carnegie donated money to build 1,687 public libraries in the United States. That’s an average of 35 public libraries for each of the 48 states. (Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet.)

Public libraries are supported by (mostly) local taxes and services are available freely to all community members. I said “mostly” about the taxes because many public libraries have private sources of funding from individuals or corporations in the form of endowments, gifts, and grants. Seriously, if you want to do something that will benefit your community, then support your library.

The first public library in the United States that was completely supported by taxes was in Peterborough, New Hampshire in 1833.

Now may be a great time to catch up on your reading or check out some new books for your kids. Use your public library so they know that you love them.