Ben Bizzle, CEO, LibraryMarket, said he is scared to read to people in public. But he has a script and read part of a story which will appear in a chapter of a book, It’s All About the Story, that he and Susan Considine are co-authoring. The story is about a homeless man who came to the library every day and shared his life story: what it was like growing up, adulthood, how he became homeless, then acquired a deep love of reading, and how the library has impacted him. It allowed him to maintain his dignity and know his value as a human being. Libraries do change lives, and they saved his.
Sue Considine, Former Executive Director, Fayetteville (NY) Public Library (FPL), asked the audience to think about their stories of how information made a meaningful difference in their lives. Libraries are the one place in the community where are everyone is equal and supported. They level the playing field and provide a place of belonging, providing acceptance in the community. Many libraries now have makerspaces, and the power of making is social. Even though there are many disadvantages, we persist and stay in the profession. For example, when FPL put out a call for sewers, they were overwhelmed with volunteers who taught others to sew. By learning to sew, some of the participants’ lives were transformed. For example, one senior citizen spent most of her time sewing alone in her kitchen. When she came to FPL and joined the sewing group, she found new friends and became an active member of the community.
Many people on the fringes of the community use the library as a place to interact with other people. The change in their lives can be amazing.