While libraries have been around for centuries, the idea of lending a book out to a reader wasn't put into practice until Ben Franklin helped create the first library system in America.
That was a revolutionary idea, and what is happening in libraries today is just as revolutionary because libraries offer so much more than books. The services have made the local library the place to go to improve your life.
Libraries offer assistance with earning a high school diploma, attaining citizenship, doing your taxes, even learning to read. Would you like to learn a new language? How about sign language? You can learn how to use a sewing machine (Long Beach), become a DJ (Compton) and use a 3D printer (Altadena, Thousand Oaks)?
Stressed out? How about classes for meditation yoga, or tai chi?
In short, if you can think of something you want to know more about, there's a good chance that a local library can help fulfill that need.
Which leads us to why LA might be the best place in the world to be a library patron. Because the Los Angeles area has so many municipalities, there are 39 library systems here in the Southland. Almost all of them have multiple branches (The City of LA Public Library has over 70). Each branch of each library system is unique and offers something special to its members. You probably already have all you need to become a member of most of these libraries -- your state ID.
So check out you local library, either in person or through their website. Don't be surprised if you see something there that you want to learn more about.
Of course, that doesn't mean books are on the way out. Far from it. In fact for many, the need to disengage from our electronic accessible world has made the joy of relaxing with a good book even more satisfying and important than ever.
If you are a book lover our libraries are probably a familiar destination, but check out your local neighborhood for little lending libraries. They are often found in front yards or near schools, small cabinets big enough for a couple of dozen books. They are a great way for us to share books we love with our neighbors as well as discover new books.
To learn more about our various local library systems, check out the Southern California Library Cooperative here.
Interested in a little neighborhood lending library? Go here.