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26 People Told Us How Public Libraries Make Their Lives Better

"It made me love learning, which is the greatest gift I possibly could have received."

Posted on November 13, 2018, at 2:14 p.m. ET

Recently, we asked the BuzzFeed Community how their local libraries have improved their lives. Here are some of the most heartwarming responses.

1. "There wasn't this pressure to socialize or talk to anyone there."

"I moved to the town I currently live in when I was 10. Making friends was never easy for me — I have severe social anxiety, and a birth defect where one of the symptoms is alopecia and I only became more aware of it after I moved — but I found a lot of comfort in the town's library. It was a tiny building where the basement was the designated children's section, and there was just something about walking down those stairs that made me feel better. There wasn't this pressure to socialize or talk to anyone there. I had the option to just sit in silence and read a book, or to talk to one of the librarians. They were always so nice and made some part of this new town feel accepting."

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2. "The library provides so many resources for me to practice a new language."

"I’m learning a new language and the library provides so many resources for me to practice the language, which otherwise would have been really expensive. Other than the usual books and CDs, you can also practice doing tests for language exams."

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3. "Books helped me feel a little less lonely."

"I started homeschooling in the seventh grade. Homeschoolers get a bad rep for being socially awkward and inept, but I am actually a very extroverted person so it was tough to be homeschooled. I was involved in a co-op and a church youth group, but many of the friends I made there lived far away so we didn’t see each other often outside of our regularly scheduled meetings. There were times I felt lonely or isolated and so I learned to lose myself in books. I always enjoyed reading, but when I started to homeschool I learned to love and crave books. The library was the best part of the week — I would pick out some 25-30 books and would devour them over the next few weeks. Books helped me feel a little less lonely, they brought me knowledge, and helped me develop my writing skills. I don’t know where I’d be without my local library."

kivazz1998

4. "It's a simple but meaningful way for me to honor my late father's memory."

"I inherited my father’s love of reading and as soon as I could write my name, I signed up for my own library card. We would take weekly trips to our library and pick out a few books to read together, and it was easily one of the best parts of my childhood. Now that he’s passed, I take trips to the library once a month to get a couple of books and unwind. It’s a simple but meaningful way for me to honor his memory."

arielleh4d90f15c9

5. "[The school librarians] let me take out more books than the actual limit."

"I love befriending the librarians at school, because then they will let me take out more books than the actual limit of books — like in sixth grade, I was able to check out five books at a time. I was also able to check out books even if one of those librarians isn't there. I would just write the serial number on a Post-It, and put it on the computer."

babypin101

6. "My parents could never afford to buy me all the books I wanted to read."

"My family was pretty poor when I was a kid and because of that I got the majority of my entertainment from our town's public library. It's where I fell in love with reading and it had a huge impact on my life. My parents could never afford to buy me all the books I wanted to read and so having a place to read them for free was absolutely amazing. Not to mention being able to rent movies and use library computers. The library has so many resources that made a large impact on my life."

daniellerhema-joya

7. "It's definitely worth making the trip outside."

"The teen room at my library is the best! I’m an extremely introverted person, but sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by books and puzzles and board games, including graphic novels, is definitely worth making the trip outside."

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8. "The library is where I would go to research colleges and eventually apply for them."

"Growing up my family couldn’t afford a home computer and internet service so the library is where I would go to research colleges and eventually apply for them.

I still use the library heavily, I love being able to check out DVDs and LOVE their audiobooks! My library also has a really good selection of games for Xbox, Nintendo, etc., so I go and check games out for my nephew since his mom can’t afford new games for him."

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9. "Being able to walk to my local branch of the New York Public Library allows me to both socialize and be with myself — and find a book to soothe and calm my soul and anxiety."

"There are times when I can get very anxious, or even anxious-hyper (i.e. basically like someone going a thousand miles a minute). Being able to walk to my local branch of the New York Public Library and either pick up a book on hold for myself or browse through other books allows me to both socialize and be with myself — and find a book to soothe and calm my soul and anxiety. It has also saved me money and saved my butt many a times as a graduate school student for early childhood education — whether I've needed to go pick up a last minute book for a read-aloud for an interview or teaching, or needed help finding resources for my students, or find books for class."

skipnees

10. "Because of my local library, I'll be attending a master's level program in the fall."

"I can't afford to pay an internet bill every month so I go to the library to study for my community college courses. Because of my local library, I'll be attending a master's level program in the fall."

grr469

11. "I can download all the audiobooks I want."

"I’m in the car for about 30-40% of my work day. My library has access to Overdrive, so I can download all the audiobooks I want. It’s amazing how much more reading I’m able to get done, and it makes my long drives SO much easier."

runner1399

12. "Reading was able to lower my stress, help me focus on something outside of the hospital, and give me a chance to escape for a little bit."

"Due to health issues I spent vast amounts of time in a hospital with hospitalizations ranging from weeks to even months. There’s only so much TV you can watch. Books, on the other hand, were something I never got tired of. My parents would swing by the library and checkout books that they knew I would like, and they would bring them by the armful. Reading was able to lower my stress, help me focus on something outside of the hospital, and give me a chance to escape for a little bit. If I wasn’t able to hold the book a friend would read it to me. The library allowed me have a continuous circle of books coming in and out of my room that made the time in the hospital a little more tolerable."

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13. "I've begun to talk with the other parents/caregivers as well and begin friendships."

"I've now got two babies under two years old. The library here has a program called Mommy and Me Story Time. Every Thursday during the school year, the children's librarian reads stories, and prepares a snack and activity. It's an amazing way to be able to introduce my girls to other children and a structured activity time. Granted the whole thing happens in about half an hour, but it's half an hour where we aren't isolated at home. I've begun to talk with the other parents/caregivers as well and begin friendships. Everyone knows that adult friends aren't easy to make and they're harder to keep. This allows so many social opportunities for all of us. I can't afford expensive lessons or outings and this is all free!"

jbishop1101

14. "If I couldn't feed my bank account, I settled on feeding my mind."

"The recession hit hardest when I was in my last year of high school. Summer jobs were hard to come by and generally the home from college crowd had a better shot. After about a month of failed job hunting, I settled for a library card. If I couldn't feed my bank account, I settled on feeding my mind. It turned out to be a really good summer; the library became a new friend to spend my time with."

jburnickas

15. "I’m dyslexic and needed extra help learning to read, but the library was my saving grace."

"I grew up in a lower class family and neither of my parents are particularly educated. While there wasn’t much for them to teach me when it came to school work, and we didn’t have a lot of books in the house, I lived right by the library and my mother would take us at least once a week if not more. I’m dyslexic and needed extra help learning to read, but the library was my saving grace. I went from being illiterate to being way above grade level, and today I’m a grad student studying English. Having the library meant more than just access to a computer to do my homework, or being able to score free books during the summer reading program. It made me love learning, which is the greatest gift I possibly could have received."

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16. "It's a neutral place if parents prefer not to do tutoring in their or your home."

"As a teacher, libraries are a great place to tutor kids over the summer. It's a neutral place if parents prefer not to do tutoring in their or your home, and you have so many books available to support your tutoring session! Also many libraries have some sort of used or discount book store connected to it that is great for teachers to get cheap books for their classroom."

cristat

17. "It was the only place that I felt safe and at home."

"When I was a girl I loved reading — it was the only time I felt accepted when I was otherwise being bullied. My mom got tired of taking to the library all the time, so when I was just nine years old I asked my mom if I could ride my bike the mile into town to go by myself. She finally let me, and soon I was going at least once a day. It was the only place that I felt safe and at home. It opened worlds to me and I'll always be thankful for that."

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18. "I feel inspired to write my own books."

"It’s a place where I feel inspired to write my own books and hopefully join the stacks and stacks of successful authors."

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19. "My boyfriend and I met at the library!"

"I’ve been going to my local library since I was four. It has completely changed my life! I used to go every week and spend hours there reading and browsing. When I turned 16, I got my first job there, shelving books. I worked at the library all through my college years and I’m still there today. The librarians and my other coworkers have become some of my favorite people on the planet. They’ve all helped me figure out my career plans and helped me grow so much in my time here. My boyfriend and I met at the library, too! I’m now actively pursuing a career in library science because of how much I have loved my local library. The library has definitely changed my life completely and I don’t know where I’d be today without it!

sarahd113

20. "They try to include books relevant to my region, which is especially helpful in my pursuit of learning to identify plants in my area."

"The library is one of the only cultural centers near me. I'm able to check out whatever weird book or movie piques my interest, and they try to include books relevant to my region, which is especially helpful in my pursuit of learning to identify plants in my area. One of the Christmas gifts I got for my mother was a collection of books I thought she would like from the small book sale they always have for books that haven't been checked out lately. It's getting increasingly more difficult to find classic movies (I've looked for specific classic movies or anthologies on Amazon, and there are barely any), and yet I've been able to see Anatomy of a Murder and Roman Holiday and that's just what caught my eye after tutoring.

Speaking of tutoring, our local library is where my high school's National Honor Society offers tutoring for other kids. I'm the co-chair of that department this year. A lot of the kids we tutor live in homes where English is rarely spoken, so I know I'm making a difference by helping them with their reading skills, and maybe they can pass on that knowledge. Some kids have learning disabilities, and with our help have straight A's in integrated classrooms when most students in our county with special needs only spend time in a separate classroom away from other students.

I also went to a special dinner for library volunteers this year and found out about a small library in our county that's trying to collect and preserve historical documents relevant to our area. My county holds the birthplace of John Marshall and has been around for a long tome, so this is incredibly significant.

Sorry I went on a little rant here, but I'm just really passionate about the subject."

thegeniuswizard

21. "There would be this golden retriever therapy dog that would come in every Thursday."

"I’m not sure if they still do it at my library, but when I was younger there would be this golden retriever therapy dog that would come in every Thursday and sit in the kids section with his owner. Kids could come over and read to him or just pet him if they liked. I’m pretty sure there were different therapy dogs scheduled for other days of the week too. It was really nice because no matter how many kids read to him, it was like he was always intently listening."

just4cc531

22. "There are always new things to discover at a library!"

"Libraries help me retain a sense of wonder about the world. There are always new things to discover at a library!"

lilleaflo

23. "My library gives me a free place to take the kids and feel like part of the community."

"Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating, and I have two young sons who aren't school age yet. We just moved across the country, really far from family and friends. My library gives me a free place to take the kids and feel like part of the community. I can see other grown-ups and talk to them in person! In the middle of the day! We get books, movies, video games, TV series, little learning packs, and even free printed activities for my older son who is learning to write. They have craft corner, story time, reading programs, and a play room. It's awesome, and it is always a great option for when we just need to get out of the house."

luvalatte

24. "It gave me lifelong friends."

"My childhood library had a group called Fairy Tale Theater. Every summer we would put on productions of fairy tales. It was a place that allowed me to be myself, helped me develop leadership skills, and gave me lifelong friends."

alyssabarbrajeanm

25. "Reading has never felt so civic-minded."

"Through my library’s adult summer reading program, I can engage not only with my community, but with those across the country as well. Our summer reading program donates money to libraries in Puerto Rico. Reading has never felt so civic-minded."

caitlynannb

26. "My librarian gifted me with a spare copy of the book I took home dozens of times."

"After watching me take home the same book dozens of times, my librarian gifted me with a spare copy she had at home. It was so nice of her!"

ritahobbes

This article is part of a series of stories celebrating libraries and free access to information.

Ben Kothe/BuzzFeed News

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