On this year’s Give Local York Day, I’d like to share with you a story. Out of respect for the people we serve and their privacy, I will change the name of the person involved. Let’s call him Jim.
Sometime in the first half of 2021, Jim lost his job. Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries were still feeling the effects. Jim’s was no different. Money was tight, the economy wasn’t what it used to be, and the company had to make some hard choices.
We first met Jim here at the Guthrie Memorial Library when he came in and asked to use the computers. Our computers are free to use and open to the public, so we showed him how to sign on, explained to him our internet policies, and asked him to let us know if he needed any help. Over the course of several weeks and months, we saw Jim off and on. That first week, he came in and asked for help finding the PA unemployment benefits website, so our staff showed him how to find that information and file an application.
Then, he started looking for jobs. But it had been a while since he had been job hunting, and how would he know where to look, or which websites to trust? Luckily, our highly skilled and trained librarians know just how to help people like Jim sift through all those internet scams and find high quality information that they can trust. What about a resume? Our computers have access to Google Docs and Microsoft Word, and we helped him find some resume templates and quality examples he could use to build his own work history. All in a day’s work for a modern library.
Flash forward to later in 2021. Jim comes in again and walks up to the main desk. Some of the staff there recognize him and get ready to hand him a pass to use the computers, but he stops them. He says, “I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t going to see me in here very much anymore. I just got a job.”
Jim is just one of literally hundreds of people who walk through our doors every day, and just one of thousands of people we help every year as they look for the information and resources they need in order to live their best lives. It was rarely the same staff person that helped Jim from day to day, from week to week, but he knew that anyone he interacted with here at Guthrie would be able to help him find what he needed. This is what we’re here for, and it’s what libraries do day in and day out – connect people with the information and resources they need to help them live their best lives.
We’re almost halfway through 2022 now, and things are busier than ever. Lost in the hustle and bustle of our work, Jim is no longer at the forefront of our minds. But then he stopped in here just a few weeks ago. He thanked us again, and this time he also donated some supplies he knew that we could use after seeing us work for those several months. We couldn’t believe the incredible generosity of this gesture, and it’s hard for me to think about it without getting a little teary-eyed.
I can’t imagine how many stories like this are out there. In 2021 alone, over 30,000 people used our computers and wifi access. Over 65,000 people walked through our doors, and we answered over 4,000 reference questions just like Jim’s. We ran 450 programs – book club meetings, storytimes, local history programming, financial and health literacy education, trivia nights, chess clubs, gaming parties, and so on – that reached over 22,000 people. We’re here every day, helping Hanover area residents form cultural connections through text, technology, and meeting spaces. And we can only do that with the generous help of people like you, people who care about having high-quality public services available in their communities.
If you’d like to see the work of the library continue, and if you’d like to enable us to help more people like Jim, please consider making a donation to the Friends of the Guthrie Memorial Library today through Give Local York. Donations made today have the potential to earn stretch dollars and special prizes, which makes every dollar count just that much more.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have. Or maybe you have a story like Jim’s that you’re willing to share – we’d love to hear it. And if you happen to be Jim and you’re reading this, please reach out – I’d love to shake your hand and thank you in person.