Libraries and Their Patrons: What Can Your Library Do For You?

By Michelle Magnotta

Librarians are the representatives of libraries. They make a lot of decisions about the libraries as well, like which books to order, which to keep, and what computer programs to have available to their patrons. The patrons are the ones who keep libraries alive and vibrant. It’s all about them, really, and how community libraries can serve them.

So how can librarians, and other people who work at and for libraries, like the Library Board, make the library appealing to the patrons? By advertising and marketing to groups of patrons. For example, young people are attached to their cell phones and social media. The library could have a Facebook page and Twitter account to get information out there. For those not on Facebook and Twitter, a simple weekly e-mail can get a lot of information about programming and events going on at the library.

Some examples of library programs are film showings, author lectures and book signings, international music and dance, computer classes, book clubs, and book sales. Fliers about these events are posted on websites, in elevators, and at Circulation Desks in local libraries.

A Suggestion Box is always welcome, too. Patrons can fill out a slip of paper after checking out their books, and put it in the box, for staff to later go through and pick which suggestions seem doable. This is how libraries become more appealing to long-time patrons, as well as new ones who have taken an interest in the library.

Libraries have been there for the military as well, as far back as World War I and beyond, according to Donna Miles’ article, “Libraries Remain Centers of Morale, Warfare Programs.” The article states:

“The [American Library Association] service committee raised a whopping $5 million in public donations, distributing more than 7 million books and magazines, erecting 36 camp libraries and providing library collections to over 500 sites, including military hospitals…The Navy established the first official military library program in 1919, Nellie Moffitt, the Navy’s general library program manager, told American Forces Press Service. The Army followed with its own program in 1920, and the Air Force quickly stood up its own library program when it was established as a separate service in 1947.”

Another thing libraries do for their patrons is have therapy dogs come to visit. The article “Therapy Dogs’ Presence Steadily Grows in Libraries” by Meredith Schwartz, talks about the Oshkosh Public Library in Wisconsin, which has a program called “Read To a Dog” to improve children’s literacy skills. In the article, Sandy Joseph, the children’s librarian said, “It is unbelievably motivating. I am amazed at how well they read after five or six times. That’s what the research is saying: five to six consecutive visits will raise them two reading levels.”

The Mamaroneck Public Library in Westchester County, New York, has a similar program called “Paws A While To Read.”  According to the article “Mamaroneck Librarian Enlists Her Dogs In ‘Paws A While To Read’ Program,” by Suzanne Samin, the head reference librarian at the Mamaroneck Library, Lori Friedli, brings her Bernese Mountain dogs Charly, Nettie and Olivia. They are certified therapy dogs who attend story time with children at the library.

The library is very useful for all kinds of things, from programs to computer use to good old-fashioned research, or just to read James Patterson’s latest crime novel. John Dewey talks about communities’ use of libraries at length in his work “Search for the Great Community.” Libraries will continue to serve their communities in any way possible, and librarians will lead the way the entire time.


Dewey, John (1984 [1927]). “Search for the Great Community” in The Public and Its Problems

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Michelle Magnotta

Hi! My name is Michelle. I have a BA in Spanish and I'm in the Master's of Library Science program at Pratt.

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