National Library Lovers Month: How Libraries Benefit Underserved Communities, and Library Support StrategiesFeb 07, 2022 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
( Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels )
In February, communities around the nation celebrate National Library Lovers Month. To commemorate this joyous occasion, we are exploring the beneficial nature of libraries, and offering strategies to support your local library.
Libraries benefit the community by bringing helpful programs to communities, and they also allow vulnerable communities to access resources such as computers, professional development courses,, and more.
In 2020, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services reported that there were an estimated 4,302 homeless people, with 700 unsheltered homeless people, in Philadelphia. For homeless people, barriers to getting jobs can be multi-layered. With a simple library card, homeless communities are able to utilize computer services to apply to online job applications and learn about homeless transition programs, as well as access employment services like resume workshops, mock interviews,, and more.
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In 2021, the City of Philadelphia reported that 25% of Philadelphian households did not have access to a working computer or laptop and that 16% of Philadelphian households did not have access to high-speed internet. Populations without access to adequate internet or computer resources are able to use library computers to complete assignments or network with mentors.
The Free Library of Philadelphia, for example, has been in operation since 1891, and has 55 branches in the Philadelphia region, with some of them being wheelchair accessible. The Free Library of Philadelphia offers community programs like adult education classes, entrepreneur and small business support, computer classes, free professional photos, equipment to borrow, language courses, various literacy programs, exhibitions, children’s programs, and more, with some of these programs being at little to no cost.
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( Photo by Budgeron Bach from Pexels )
COVID-19 has changed the library industry, and many existing challenges libraries faced, like funding and event attendance, have been exacerbated. However, libraries continue to craft virtual events. The development of the internet has made many books and stories available online. This means libraries are adapting with change, and making books available through digital books and audiobooks, equipping staff with more digital literacy skills and more.
Support your local library by getting a library card, partnering with the library, or donating to the library. Alternatively, it may be helpful for techies to contact libraries about hosting a digital literacy workshop for employees, and for communities to share local events with their communities.
The FREE Library of Philadelphia is hosting a series of events for Black History Month. Check them out here.
How have libraries been beneficial to you? Comment below!
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Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ( www.asieduasimprint.com ).
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