A response to the WP’s “Kayaks, ukuleles, neckties: The weird and useful things you can check out from local libraries”

The Washington Post recently published an article titled, “Kayaks, ukuleles, neckties: The weird and useful things you can check out from local libraries” in which it detailed the many ways libraries are opening up to communities by loaning nontraditional materials

While some may find such lending policies unusual, they are nothing short of an extension of what the core of a library is: a public forum for communication. After all, books and texts exists to hold and share ideas and in order to for these ideas and thoughts to exist, they must be borne out of some sense of experience in the world. In order for someone to come along and understand these texts, the reader must also have some sort of experiential knowledge.

In the educational world, it is referred to as prior knowledge, and it is an integral part of a child’s developing reading comprehension. For how can a child read a book about baseball and understand it if they have never heard or seen anything about baseball in their lives?

By adopting such lending policies, libraries are promoting literacy by making available the word of experiences to children and adults which will allow them to engage more deeply and richly with the texts of authors wishing to communicate the ideas and thoughts interwoven between the doing and making in this world.

Furthermore, these lending services can provide experiential opportunities for individuals and families who wouldn’t be able to afford these experiences otherwise. While buying a 3D printer for a future engineer might not be possible, a visit to the local public library is.

So, the next time you hear about your local library lending out casserole dishes or camping gear, see it as an extension of what your library has been doing for years: promoting literacy.

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A man kayaks at a national park. Perhaps he checked out the kayak from his local library?   Photo credit: National Park Service



A Salute to Todd Bol

Before I knew who Todd Bol was, I had seen Little Free Libraries in my community. Looking like overgrown bird houses, these wonderful pieces promote literacy by asking community members to either take a book or leave a book for free. Usually located in parks or near rec centers, these libraries are proof that there are still people who believe in the power of stories and literacy. In the past it has been my honor to contribute to these collections and I’ve also found a few pieces for myself to read as well. When I heard the news on NPR that the founder, Todd Bol, had passed away, my heart felt heavy indeed. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this post to his memory as a way of saying Thank You and honoring his memory.

To read more about Mr. Bol and his Little Free Libraries visit:

Little Free Library founder dies at 62; tie silver or white ribbons around the libraries in his memory