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The Transformative Possibilities of Libraries

by on November 29, 2016

Libraries are an important part of our democratic society. They serve as centers of knowledge as well as places where anyone can look for a job, get homework help, or attend an event. They enlighten and entertain, and serve their communities in ways other organizations cannot. Although many of us already knew this, it’s heartening to hear stories about the positive differences libraries can make in people’s lives. One example of this comes from a blog post on the Brainpickings website. In it, Maria Popova shares the story of one woman, Storm Reyes, who overcame a childhood of poverty and became a librarian who served her community for 32 years. There is also a video detailing Reyes’ experience.

Reyes grew up working in the agricultural fields of Washington state, and life was extremely hard. But her life began to change when she discovered the bookmobile. Little by little she asked the librarian questions, and began to learn from the books she borrowed. As she said, “I knew there was a world outside the camps, and I believed I could find a place in it. I had read about people like me and not like me. I had seen how huge the world was, and it gave me the courage to leave. And I did. It taught me that hope was not just a word.”[1] Reyes’ story shows how much of an impact libraries, reading, and knowledge can have. It is wonderful to know that she was able to work hard, succeed, and pass on her love of libraries by creating a meaningful career.

The tranformative possibilities of libraries and librarians may be even more important to our communities in the current and near future political climate. As Julie Todaro said, “Our nation’s libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable in our communities, offering services and educational resources that transform communities, open minds, and promote inclusion and diversity.”[2]

As librarians, our role is to serve and provide information to everyone equally, as best we can.Reyes’ story is a perfect illustration of what libraries (and librarians) can do.


[1] Maria Popova, October 6, 2016, Brainpickings, https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/10/06/libraries-storycorps-bookmobile/

[2] Julie Todaro, November 15, 2016, Statement on Libraries, the Association, Diversity, and Inclusion, https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/statement-libraries-association-diversity-inclusion/


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