Did you know that in the U.S., libraries outnumber McDonald’s? Crazy, right? Make no mistake though. While libraries are, of course, still filled to the brim with books, they’re no longer just for quiet reading, studying, and prohibited food.
Entertainment Weekly’s Book Editor and Off the Books (EW Radio, SiriusXM channel 105) host Tina Jordan traversed the country to get a firsthand look at the many roles libraries now play in their communities (“patching up someone’s fender with duck tape,” hosting classes on taxes, healthcare, and more).
“But libraries aren’t just a place where the community can meet,” she explains. “They’re also places where people can get information, and not always the kind of information that’s found in books.” It’s not just information you can find anymore either: films, music, apps that let you borrow books on your phone, sheet music, baking equipment… now you can find and borrow these and more at the library.
While many libraries might have fledgling budgets, libraries in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, provided sanctuary during their respective 2014 and 2015 riots. Entire cities were ravaged, but the libraries? These buildings, which can even serve as community centers in smaller towns, were untouched.
To hear about all the incredible opportunities (and stories) libraries now offer, check out the clip below.