Erin Schoen Marsh
Why I Use the Library (Toledo Public Libraries)
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
The Toledo Library has been a staple in my life from childhood through adulthood, and I expect that to continue as I age. Outside of yoga and Yogaja, literature and the Library may be the only things that have evolved with me over the years. Yoga started me on the journey to connect my body to my mind, but books allowed me to exercise and grow that mind in the first place.
From conducting research to finding friends, here’s how the Library has grown with me:
Creating Memories (Borrowing Books, eBooks, and DVDs)
Borrowing may seem like an obvious benefit of our Toledo Public Libraries, but when I was child, buying books online or reading them electronically were not options, so we regularly visited our Sylvania Library for literary entertainment that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.
Family trips to the Library are some of my most cherished memories. Reading was my escape as a young child--it helped remove me from the awkward body that didn’t seem to mesh with my active imagination--and choosing new books and movies each trip was often the highlight of my week.
Now as an adult with two small children of my own, we borrow from the Library regularly. Why pay for books and movies when we have the diversity of choices just down the street for no cost? My kids love visiting the Library, and on the weeks when it’s too cold to venture outside or our schedules are too packed, dad still makes time to grab new books for our bedtime stories.
Wikipedia is great for finding answers to random, everyday questions, but when it comes to academic research, Wikipedia doesn’t cut it. When I was in college, I practically lived in the Library. Between the free internet access, plethora of sources at my fingertips, and quiet atmosphere, it was the perfect place to conduct my research, study, and write.
When I taught high school English, I required that students use print sources as well as digital sources. Even if not all teachers enforce this requirement, Library sources help weed out unreliable sources, providing “vetted and approved research material” as our Library so wisely states.
The Toledo Library has even teamed up with NewsGuard, which rates a site’s newsworthiness, to provide a news literacy tool to help assess the reliability of the news and information websites we visit. If only such things existed when I was in school!
Finding Community (Storytime, and More)
As a parent, I have made several mom friends at the Library, automatically bonded in our mutual shushing of our young children. Babytime was the only event worth exiting the house in winter months with a colicky baby, and Preschool Storytime allowed me to interact with other adults while my kids practiced social skills and early literacy.
We attend pretty much every special event geared toward children at our Library, and by doing this, we’ve created a community of parents who are united by their love of reading and their focus on early literacy, and my children have the opportunity to meet new playmates.
I also recently discovered that you can borrow tablets from the Library, all of which contain interactive and educational games, so we can all feel a little better about sticking our kids in front of a screen so we can get XYZ done!
Working in Peace
In theory, working from home seems ideal, but in reality, there are so many distractions: the laundry, the children, the dog, the dishes. The Library provides release from all of those diversions. I can grab my coffee, find a ridiculously comfortable chair, and plug away for as long as I have childcare.
I typically work from the King Road Library, and the spacious room, wall of windows, and comfortable seating put me right at ease. In our gray winter months, the natural light makes me feel like I’m outside without braving the frigid elements, and the spacious room makes me inexplicably calm. No one bothers me, but everyone is helpful. It’s perfection.
The newly renovated Sylvania Library provides the same comforts. I choose a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows far away from the children’s center to hunker down with my work. While I obviously love my children, when I’m working and away from my own offspring, I want nothing to do with the delightful squeals of toddlers.
Trying New Things (Book Club, Painting/Cooking Classes)
I like to try new things as much as the next person, but if I’m being totally honest, I’m reluctant to schedule in new activities in our already-packed lives...especially if I’m also shelling out money. The free activities provided by the Library--cooking classes, book/poetry groups, Cricut making classes, painting lessons--encourage me to step out of my comfort zone without breaking the bank.
I recently attended my first "Books on Tap" meeting, which is the clever name that TPL has given their book clubs, all of which meet at local restaurants/breweries. We met at Inside the Five and discussed Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. The food was great, the company even better, and it was fun to discuss Educated, books, and life in general with like-minded people of all ages.
Growing Old with Me
Lately, when I visit the Library after school, I find each sitting area commandeered by high school students. They are quiet and respectful--quieter than the little ones playing in the children’s zone--and I can’t help by smile that we have a library so beautiful and welcoming that teenagers think it’s “cool” to hang out there. I can only hope my children grow up to loiter in the Library one day!
My husband’s grandma, Charlotte, used the Toledo Library mobile service Homebound Delivery on a regular basis. Not only did someone from the Library deliver her new books on a regular basis, but they learned her favorites and began tailoring the book selection to her tastes.
This leads me to some #LifeGoals:
1.) raise teenagers who think it’s cool to hang at the Library,
2.) volunteer to deliver books to the homebound after I’ve retired, and
3.) get books delivered to me when I’m old and gray.
So why do YOU use your Library?