Virginia looks to showcase libraries as community cornerstones

Kids LibraryLibraries serve their communities in so many ways that it’s hard to actually appreciate all that they do.  These days, technology has meant that that assistance has expanded even further, and libraries fill an even more diverse set of needs than before.  Rarely, however, are libraries appreciated like they should be, and certain districts in Virginia are setting out to actively change that.

This week, libraries all over Virginia will be holding their own “Snapshot Day.”  Throughout these snapshot days, each library will snap pictures of the everyday activities going on in their branches, in an effort to highlight the extensive and diverse ways in which community members utilize their libraries.  These ‘slice of life’ photos are meant to show the value of the libraries to their communities in real time, and will be displayed several places online afterward.

Both those physically present and those visiting the event’s website online will be able to comment about the ways in which they use their library, and how having a library available enhances their daily life.

The idea was born out of collaboration between the Virginia Library Association and the Library of Virginia project, and comes at a crucial time in the library funding battle in many states, Virginia included.  In recent years, budget cuts across the board have often swept up library hours and staffing as local and state governments have had to trim the fat.  Projects like Snapshot Day hope to not only speak to local communities, but also signal to lawmakers that libraries are important cornerstones, not luxuries or ‘extras’, and they certainly don’t represent any “fat” in need of being trimmed from state, county, and municipal budgets.

Libraries leading the charge on this effort include the Pulaski County Public Library and the Charles and Ona B. Free Memorial Library based in Dublin, which held celebrations Tuesday, though others across the state are expected to join in the days to come.

Librarians and other staff are fully aware that the squeaky wheel does, in fact, get the oil, and making some noise and buzz across the state will only help to elevate their cause.  What’s important to the people, ideally, becomes important to the lawmakers.

The Virginia library systems invite anyone and everyone to speak up and share their own stories and experiences with their local library (or libraries), as the event is meant to extend well beyond just those who happen to attend on one specific day.

Other states have already been employing their own creative efforts to draw attention to libraries and bring them back into public prominence.  Some, for example, have hosted festival days with extra events, games, and prizes.  Others still have focused these days on public readings for children, with goodie bags to encourage reading and library visits supplied to those who attend.  Ultimately, Virginia may have the right idea in trying to make their event nothing more, and nothing less, than the day-to-day workings of its libraries.  In some regards, the one-off events with special extras may give people the extra incentive they need to make a visit and see what all is going on at their local library.