Miami Public Library puts the UNITY in Community

By: Callie Cortner

“Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.”

R. David Lankes

Before I jump into how amazing Miami Public Library is, let me tell you a little about how I came to be here.

Growing up, I was definitely not what you would call an avid reader. I didn’t go to the local library, and I didn’t read for fun. I grew up in a rural area of Coweta, Oklahoma, and we were thirty or more minutes away from anything. So, trips were made to town for school, sports, and essentials. It wasn’t until I reached middle school that my love of reading began. All it took was one story that I fell in love with, and I was hooked. I think that is the way it goes for most people when they discover a love for something. With that first book, my adventures began.

My story is probably relatable to many people. But for others, maybe not. Even as my love for books grew, I still wasn’t a regular library visitor. Time passed, I grew up, went to college, got a job, had kids, changed jobs, had another kid… and then my life changed. I moved to Miami, Oklahoma. About eighteen months after moving to Miami, a job at the local library opened up. Sick of making an hour and forty-five-minute commute twice daily, I decided to go for it. Yes, it required me to go back to school, and yes, it was a drastic change in my previous career in retail management. But I was ready for an adventure that included my love of learning and reading. Little did I know how much more that was to libraries than books. Libraries are the central point in a community.

Here is where I get to the point you probably clicked the link for… What I learned and what I am striving for.

Miami Public Library (MPL) is more than books. We are reading (of course); we are entertainment; we are skill building; we are social; we are education; we are resources; we are public access; we are community. Miami Public Library is home to thousands of books, movies, games, genealogical materials, and many more resources. Yes, we indeed have fitness equipment for checkout and magazines, books, and newspapers online. We are most definitely “things”. But we offer experiences too.

What type of experiences, you may ask?

We offer classes from Genealogy to fitness – story time to Lego League – Movie Nights to Teen Game Nights (there are so many more). With each of these programs, we build little community groups of people who have the same passions. We build friendships and support systems. We become a place where people come when they want companionship and something to do.

“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.”

― Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber

But wait, there is more!

You have probably seen library staff floating around at different community events in the last few months. But why are we outside our building? Number one, we are here to serve the public, and the best way to do that is to get out there and get to know you! Secondly, Miami Public Library staff has been working to build community connections and partnerships throughout Ottawa County and surrounding areas. It is important to the staff that we are “in the know” about all the available resources for our patrons and community.

We want to be the central hub of information so that when people have a question, we can provide them with information and send them in the direction that will serve to answer their questions. MPL staff already provides internet and dozens of resources online, as well as aiding those who need help filling out paperwork online. Now, we want to be able to direct our patrons to local resources. Miami and Ottawa County have so many amazing things to offer, but most people don’t know where to start looking. We at MPL want that starting point to be Miami Public Library.

“Librarians are the coolest people out there doing the hardest job out there on the frontlines. And every time I get to encounter or work with librarians, I’m always impressed by their sheer awesomeness.”

― Neil Gaiman

So, how can you help?

By providing us with information! If you have an event coming up, let the library know! If you have a community group or organization that is active in the community, let us know! If you are a local business and you are looking for resources, let us know! If you simply love the community, tell everyone about sharing their information at the library.

As Hellen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” Let’s get to building a stronger community. Please reach out to Miami Public Library if you have resources and information to share. We would love to hear from you!

What was with the little story at the beginning?

Well, that was a little lesson to be learned. Don’t wait until your kids are older to enjoy the library! We have something for all ages. Newborns to seniors, we have you covered! I wish I had explored my local library in my youth. But I am so glad I am in the thick of it now. I love serving the community and sharing resources. We have a great staff at MPL, and we are all here to help you to the best of our abilities. Stop in and take a peek around. You will not regret it!

I hope you are still here reading along with me because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t plug in some fast facts about the library. Check ’em out:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about putting “unity” in Community through Miami Public Library.

“Libraries are a force for good. They wear capes. They fight evil. They don’t get upset when you don’t send them a card on their birthdays. (Though they will charge you if you’re late returning a book.) They serve communities. The town without a library is a town without a soul. The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. Libraries are the torch of the world, illuminating the path when it feels too dark to see. We mustn’t allow that torch to be extinguished.”
― Libba Bray