June 24, 2020
Let’s face it: A library, on its own, cannot change the world. It’s a physical building — bricks, windows, shelves — filled with inanimate, physical materials like books, movies, and music.
But… a library can be an agent of change for the people who visit — a source for learning about the world as it exists today and the history of where we’ve been as a planet, as a country, as a state, and as a people. Through the materials in our buildings, libraries are places that foster understanding and empathy.
People who work at libraries (myself included) pride themselves on the fact that we provide information on just about any topic, and always in a nonjudgmental way. It’s simple, really:
You want information? We have it — or we will find it — and we will gladly share it with you. If it’s not within the walls of our buildings, we’ll show you how to access it elsewhere. That’s what we do.
This is an intentional understatement, but the world is kind of unsettled right now in June 2020…
- The death of George Floyd has sparked worldwide protests and is shining a spotlight once again on the myriad struggles of African Americans in the United States, especially when it comes to policing and police brutality.
- We’re also in the midst of a global health pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and crippled the lives of millions more through economic turmoil.
- Furthermore, in the middle of Pride Month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination.
With such monumental changes happening in our society right now, libraries are an important resource to help our communities understand what’s taking place and also to offer books or other materials that provide historical context to recent events. Even our public computers and Wi-Fi give community members a chance to connect with news outlets and other sources so that they may take the time to inform themselves. Under the library’s latest reopening procedures, beginning June 22, 2020, computers at MCPL’s Wausau Headquarters may be reserved by cardholders for up to 1 hour per day by calling 715-261-7230 to schedule an appointment. At the 8 branch libraries, patrons may call and schedule an appointment to use a computer for up to 30 minutes per day. (Photo courtesy of MCPL.)
With that said, I’ve shared some resources below on race and inequality in our society — especially as each relates to the African American community. I’m singling out these topics here mainly because these are issues on the minds of people across the world at the moment. (I realize that it’s a relatively short list. It’s intended to be a starting point, because an exhaustive list would be… well, exhausting.)
The library can connect you to resources on racism — plus so much more…
- Has the coronavirus pandemic made you curious about the devastating 1918 Spanish flu pandemic? We can help you with that.
- Are you interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ issues, spurred on by Pride Month and the Supreme Court decision? We’d be happy to connect you with more information about that, too.
And darned near literally anything else…
All you have to do is ask (via phone, chat, or other means under our new reopening procedures), and we’ll do what we can to help you. That’s what your community libraries are here for, and we’re happy to fill that role!
In fact, that’s the crux of the Marathon County Public Library’s mission: To enrich lives by promoting lifelong learning and actively providing the community with access to ideas, information, and opportunities to connect.
That mission, in turn, is driven by MCPL’s vision: A democratic and informed society must have free, equal, and open access to information. We empower citizens to improve their lives, their governments, and their communities.
Patrons can request items for curbside pickup by calling their local MCPL location or by using the online catalog. For more information on how curbside pickup service works, visit www.mcpl.us/curbside.
During uncertain times and beyond, we hope you:
Never stop learning.
image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/learn-student-laptop-internet-3653430