Five More Things You Didn’t Know About Libraries


There is so much to love about the library—and it’s not just the books. (Ok, a lot of it is about the books.) Modern libraries have transcended their bricks-and-mortar origins, evolving with the needs of its patrons and the possibilities of technology more than so many other institutions.

We know that libraries are community hubs, places of learning and gathering and endless opportunity. But here are five more fun facts about libraries that you may not have known—and we bet they’ll make you love the library even more than you already do.

Building an icon

The design of the iconic New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwartzman Building was the result of an architecture competition. The building took 16 years to complete, beginning in 1895 and cost more than $9 million. The cornerstone of the building, laid in 1902, holds a time capsule, containing contracts, photographs and newspapers.

Borrowing more than the basics

Libraries don’t just lend out books and movies. Some of the other items people can borrow (or keep!) from their local library include seeds, tools, musical instruments, toys—and even people! “Human library” days are popular in many places, allowing patrons to sit down with experts and storytellers for the afternoon.

Thank the founding fathers

The first free lending library in the United States was established with the help of Benjamin Franklin in Massachusetts in 1790 and when the Congressional Library burned down during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson sold his nearly 6500-volume collection to Congress to help replace their inventory. You can also find portions of the significant personal libraries of John Adams and George Washington still available to look at today. – source

A passport to culture

Lots of libraries offer day passes to cultural events and attractions, from museums and galleries to amusement parks—all for free with the flash of a library card. The  Toronto Public Library, the largest urban library system in the world, offers free family passes to some of the city’s biggest attractions, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Zoo and the Science Center.

Famous faces

Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) may be Gotham City’s most famous librarian by day and superhero by night, but did you know that Laura Bush, Jacob Grimm Lewis Carroll, Beverly Clearly and Audre Lorde were librarians as well? And like all librarians, they are superheroes to us.

How much do you love the library? Let us know in the comments!

    Karen Green

    Karen Green is a freelance writer and big city ex-pat now living in rural Ontario. She writes for numerous print and online publications, and considers her library card to be one of her most valuable possessions.

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