Before there were public libraries, there were private libraries. Books were expensive to print and transport, and only the wealthy could afford to collect them. Friends might lend books among each other, but that was about the extent of the sharing. This was an unfortunate circumstance, or at least, Benjamin Franklin thought so. Though there is some debate about when libraries were “first” open in the United States, Mr. Franklin is largely credited with opening up the country’s “first” library in Philadelphia in November of 1731. It was supported by members and subscribers. The first “public” library to be funded by a municipality was opened in 1833, in Peterborough New Hampshire. Not long after, in 1840, the first library card was issued by Harvard University.
Libraries. The word often conjures thoughts of stern librarians, shushing everyone, of silent spaces, dusty books and – ugh – fines for overdue materials. Thankfully, that’s an image that is long outdated. Today’s libraries are best described as resource centers that serve their communities by providing connection – not only to knowledge, but to each other. When it comes to these vibrant places, Macomb County’s libraries have a lot to offer, and they have not let a pandemic get in their way.
Are you a parent of a child (or children) learning remotely? Not only do libraries offer resource materials such as books, they offer access to the technology needed for remote learning. Most libraries have free WiFi. There are computers available, printing services, and even tutoring services available. The struggle to educate kids during a pandemic is real, but you don’t have to go it alone. Your local library is there for you.
Looking to keep your young ones engaged and connected with other kids their age? Try virtual show and tell, or sign up for Pajamarama, where you and your kids can put on your pjs and hear bed time stories. Sign up for Stories in the Park at Pollard, or pick up any number of Take and Make kits designed just for them.
Teenagers can sign up for Teen Improv Workshops, or Teen Board Game nights. There are Take and Make craft opportunities for teens, Teen Artist Clubs, Lego Competitions, and a Harry Potter Hidden Spell Challenge. They can sign up for virtual hang-outs, participate in a virtual escape room (of the haunted variety!), or take painting classes.
And libraries aren’t just for kids and teens. Want to join a writing group? Start a book club? Or hear a presentation about 19th Century Spirit Communicators (just in time for Halloween)? Take a cooking class? Play virtual trivia? Learn how to write a resume? Does sitting outside, listening to country blues music and learning about the genre appeal to you? How about a Ladies Night Out Drive-In Movie? You can do all of those things, and so many more, through your local library. There is literally something for everyone, and it’s all right here in Macomb County.
MMYH would like to thank all the libraries and library staff who shared their program information and their plans on how to help Macomb County residents stay connected to knowledge and to each other, pandemic or not:
Chesterfield Township Library, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, Fraser Public Library, Lenox Township Library, MacDonald Public Library, Roseville Public Library, Sterling Heights Public Library, and Saint Clair Shores Public Library
Wendy Smith is a team leader for Macomb County Human Resources and Labor Relations