The Library As A Community Safe Space


By: Kristin Bennett

Director of Library Services




In the last few months this country has seen an increase of hate crimes and discriminatory behavior. From bomb threats to Jewish centers to the recent murder of a man of Indian origin in Kansas City, our world can seem unsafe at times. Amidst all of this uncertainty, local public libraries are proud to be organizations that promote tolerance, understanding, and diversity in the community. Public libraries welcome all individuals into their buildings regardless of ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, income level, age, gender, or sexual preference. Public libraries are here for everyone.

Here at the Henry County Library we maintain a collection of diverse materials for all the differing needs of our community members. Many of our services and resources do not even require a library card. Our buildings are comfortable welcome centers for all of our citizens. We are a bully-free zone where patrons can find a relaxing safe place to spend time.

Libraries by their very definition are democratic institutions where any citizen may come to educate and improve him or herself. Information can be equally accessed by all. Libraries are not an exclusive club that only take in certain individuals. Anyone from Henry County can obtain a library card by showing a simple photo ID and providing proof of address. Not interested in a library card? No problem. Come to our building and read our newspapers and magazines in our reading area. Use our study rooms. Make copies on our copy machine. Use our fax service. Take a free book from our special paperback collection home with you. Just come in to use our restroom and drinking fountain. We are happy to serve our community members any way we can.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of intolerance in our country today towards minorities and individuals who are different from ourselves. Public libraries are working to combat these hurtful attitudes and to lend support and services to individuals who are discriminated against. Public libraries are safe spaces for everyone. As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”