What’s Knitting Got to Do with the Library?

Coffee, Crafts and Conversation at Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Why do libraries offer programs? What do craft, computer, exercise, gardening, magic shows, and cooking classes have to do with books? The short answer can be found in the BPL Mission Statement: The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.

In other words, libraries provide information to improve people’s lives. Sometimes we do this by offering programs that reflect local interests, current events, or national trends. These programs can be on anything that provides new experiences, entertains, enriches, and/or educates.

Storytime at Eastwood Branch Library
A broader answer might be that libraries build and strengthen the community. Libraries have become more about people, specifically bringing people of different backgrounds, races, ages, genders, socio-economic levels, and nationalities together in a neutral space to explore common interests. This leads to discussion and sharing between these diverse groups, which leads to understanding and friendship. Where else in the community can people who have nothing in common except shared interests meet to learn about them—at absolutely no cost to themselves? Everyone is welcome at the library as long as they follow the rules.

All of the information is free, true, and current. Libraries provide free Internet access (including Wi-Fi), as well as assistance with computer use. They are great places to meet your neighbors, find the answers to your questions, see what’s going on in your neighborhood, and learn about anything that interests you. Of course, we still offer books, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines, most of which can be enjoyed in the library and/or borrowed at no cost. BPL’s website offers digital collections, free downloadable e-books and audiobooks, as well as access to subscription databases—all free with your library card. Libraries promote literacy, too, with summer reading incentive programs for all ages!

Cooking class with Tamar Adler, Eat Drink Read Write 2014
So check our event calendar or website, Facebook pages, or simply look around on your next visit to your local library. You will probably be surprised by all that is available—FREE. If you are a reader of any age, sign up to win prizes for something you already enjoy doing. If you’ve been thinking about growing a few backyard vegetables, pick up some books and find out when the next gardening group is meeting. If you have always wanted to learn how to tat, crochet, quilt, build birdhouses, or pour stepping stones, plan to come to one of the many crafting programs offered. If you want to meet new people, practice your computer skills, apply for a job, shop online, trace your family history, find out more about a medical diagnosis, read the latest magazines, or do research for your own book, the library has all you need to do all of that. Pick up a bestseller or newly released movie, join a discussion group on local topics, or even learn to knit. There’s something for everyone!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library