The Role of Libraries in the Defense of Our Nation
“I got orders today!”
This announcement – usually made at the end of the day when your spouse walks in from work – is one that is anticipated with both dread and excitement. Everything in the household stops … the TV is turned off, the stove put on simmer … as the family gathers to find out where in the world they will be living for the next few years. And at the end of those few years, it will be repeated again.
This is what sociologists call “period of transition.” But for the military community, it is plain old “moving.” And it is how we live our lives. Having been through this change a number of times – from Southern California to Japan to Europe to Washington, DC and a tiny place called 29 Palms, I found early on that my sanity and sense of stability were maintained through libraries. There I could find information about the new location, jobs, schools and services, and, once we arrived, books, programs and librarians to help my children get their bearings in the latest place.
Today’s libraries have not only carried on this vital role in the lives of our military, but have added a number of services. In 2016, for instance, the American Library Association partnered with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to deliver financial education to military members and their families. In Oceanside, near Camp Pendleton, the local library has a special collection of books related to the experiences of military dependent children, as well as a military-themed reading room for them.
As military members transition out of the service to veteran status, libraries continue to be an important resource. Many library systems, including Long Beach, have military/veteran-specific information ranging from accessing educational benefits to home loan assistance to legal, medical and employment resources. (Long Beach’s can be found at http://www.lbpl.org/info/veterans_resources/default.asp)
As Veterans Day approaches and thoughts go to those who serve and support, libraries do not immediately come to mind. But they should. They, too, from my perspective, have an important role in the defense for our nation.
Mary Hancock Hinds is the Dependent Spouse of Lt. Col. Steve Hinds, USMC-ret, and a long-time Board member of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation.