The Public Library Is Stuff That Works

This is a new Sunday series that I call Stuff that Works. Each Sunday I pick an item that is for me a foundation element in my line up of stuff that matters or as legendary Texas singer songwriter Guy Clark put it – “The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall.”

Plaza LibraryI’ve always been a fan of the public library. I actually got the reading bug later than some. I guess I was too busy chasing down fly balls and building forts in the wooded acreage where I grew up. In high school I had the good fortune to have a teacher who taught me how to really read a book and although I’m sure I did not appreciate it at the time, I owe him a huge debt. He showed me how to find things in books that I had never noticed, how to have a conversation with the author rather than simply scan the words on the page and, perhaps most importantly, how to put myself in the story.

From that point on I became hooked on the library. In college I would go there to study and in some cases just to be among that many books. Few places felt warmer and safer than a library during a thunderstorm. When I started my own business I would often visit the reference section to find out how to do this, how to register that and where to find lists and events that made sense for my business.

When my children were little we would make almost weekly treks to the basement of the Plaza branch of the Kansas City library. The group of children’s librarians that hung out with us in that place knew the perfect book for us every time.

Even as the age of the Internet and free information has caused a shift in how we use our libraries it is the one place on the planet where you’ll likely find a tween researching Gandalf, next to a mom researching gluten free recipes, next to an attorney researching case law, next to a homeless man researching the roots of the Mayan Calendar. That fact alone makes the library a special place.

I’ve written some part of all three of my books in my library. When I travel I often pop into libraries just to see different ones.

This summer I am absolutely thrilled to have been asked to speak at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Anaheim California and I plan to tell them about my fondness for the institution. If you’ve enjoyed a library at some point in your life, make sure you let them know with moral and financial support. These public places are only as strong as the communities that help them thrive.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • orange photography

    Totally agree!  In fact, I’ve got two books on business that I’m taking with me on my current business trip – a great time to read.  And our public library system here in San Francisco is amazing!

    • ducttape

      I’ll check out some San Fran libraries when I’m out that way next.

  • Deborah Fetherland

    My kids bought me a piano for my 50th birthday.  The first place I headed was the public library for music books.  I also borrowed a marketing/social media book, a cookbook and a great read book by a local author while I was at it.

    • ducttape

      It’s all there too isn’t it! Libraries have done a great job remaking themselves over the last few years.

  • Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Reading habits should be developed in kids and sure libraries are going to play important role in that. 

  • KCMO Public Library

    Thank you, John, for the great shout-out and for showing how libraries like ours are relevant to people at all stages of life. A great part of this job is watching how our services impact people’s lives — from young readers and their parents in the children’s section, to the entrepreneurs and job seekers who come in looking to boost their professional ventures, to the people who come in after hours for the continuing education our cultural programming provides. And yes, curling up with a good book on a rainy day is big part of the joy, too.

    See you in the stacks sometime!

    – Jason Harper, web content developer @KCLibrary

    • ducttape

      Thanks Jason – libraries not only have stories, they create them!

  • kevin kirkpatrick

    Any Guy Clark reference will always get my attention. Look forward to “More Stuff”! Thanks John…..

  • Stacie Walker

    Even though I have a cozy home office, I still visit the libraries in San Antonio,Texas.

    There is something about the environment and the quietness of being surrounded by thousands of books.

    I also end up finding something to write about as I walk through the rows and rows of bookshelves.

    John, it is good to know that you still find the time to appreciate the library. It is literally a vault of knowledge.

    Stacie W.

  • GraceMontage

    I’ve always been fascinated with libraries. Even though the public library in our area needs a lot of improvement in terms of adding books and upgrading its facilities, I would always find time to visit the public library just to enjoy doing my favorite hobby and that is reading. 

  • Marketing Agent

    Libraries are such an important factor in the public system as they provide knowledge and ideas in a tangible way in which the internet cannot. As so much content is now being converted to online sources, I really hope that libraries will remain a part of our culture. The quiet, serene nature of libraries has always inspired me, and you can feel the development of knowledge and ideas as soon as you enter. Throughout my high school, university and work career libraries have always been a source that I have depended on, which never fails to provide the answer.

  • Kathy Dempsey

    Nice post! Shared it on my Libraries Are Essential Facebook page, where I help teach library workers how to do better marketing & promotion. 
    I look forward to hearing you at ALA next month.