Our Favorite Library Stories from 2020

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This has been a year like no other—but libraries have helped us get through it. From offering socially-distant services to bringing much-needed joy to our social media feeds, libraries and their staff have been a constant source of support for countless people.

As an unprecedented year comes to a close, we’re revisiting some of our favorite I Love Libraries articles from the past twelve months. Looking back, here’s how we’ll remember 2020:

Libraries stepped up during the pandemic. 

While COVID-19 meant closing library doors to the public, staff adapted their services to continue meeting community needs. From hosting virtual storytimes featuring celebrity guests and socially-distant outdoor programs to providing parking lot Wi-Fi access to those in need, libraries have truly risen to the occasion in these challenging times.

Libraries responded to Black Lives Matter.

2020 brought much-needed national attention to police brutality and racial injustice, and Black librarians were at the forefront of social justice conversations in their communities. Over the summer, librarians shared their picks for comics and graphic novels relating to Black Lives Matter, as well as social justice book recommendations for youth.

We found libraries in unexpected places.

Did you know there’s a library in the Galápagos Islands? We interviewed librarian Edgardo Civallero about what it’s like working alongside giant marine iguanas. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., we explored another unique library location: a former Indiana supermarket that’s housing biographies in the freezer section during a branch renovation.

Libraries broke the internet.

Libraries took social media by storm this year with creative viral videos promoting their services. Our favorites include Duke University’s absurdly catchy “Library Takeout” music video, Harris County Public Library’s used car ad–inspired “Curbside Larry” commercial, and the Reaching Across Illinois Library System’s “Elders of the Internet” skit starring Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman.

We learned animals love libraries too.

What is it like to be a library cat during a pandemic? We checked in with Cosmo, Socks, Browser, and the Maynooth University library cat (as well as their human colleagues) to find out. We also spoke with Virginia school librarian Rebecca Flowers, who has an adorable library-themed bird feeder in her yard, which she livestreams to thousands of bird lovers online.

We took a deep dive into fictional libraries.

Pop culture has provided a much-needed escape from a difficult year, and we’ve loved exploring the greatest (and not-so-great) depictions of librarians in media. Reel Librarians blogger Jennifer Snoek-Brown gave us the scoop on libraries in cinema, librarian Burkely Hermann analyzed two recent examples of libraries in animation, and Booklist editor Briana Shemroske rounded up great fiction and nonfiction reads about librarians.

Librarians helped us get through the day.

Amid the pandemic, we relied on librarians’ expertise about a vast array of topics, from having challenging conversations with kids and documenting life during COVID to finding great books when you can’t physically browse the shelves.

We heard from you.

Throughout the year, we invited I Love Libraries readers and the American Library Association’s social media followers to share stories and recommendations. Highlights include this inspiring list of reasons why people became librarians, a selection of readers’ favorite library memories, and a round-up of bibliophiles’ top books of 2020.

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