Open the Door to Your Local Library

Grade Level: 
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Open the door to your local library and find out what it does to make your community a better place. This guide introduces you to the work of the library as a first step before you contact your own library. We think you'll be inspired to find a way to support their work with your own creative service and learning to make a real impact.

The "Open Doors to Your Community" project is a virtual door that guides young people to the actual door of local resources so they can learn about their community, take action, and build connections and understanding of their roles in community. 

What Is the Purpose of a Library?

The library is a hub of information and gathering place that serves people of all ages and backgrounds. Libraries are known for their focus on providing books and media to community members for free, but there are many other resources and needs addressed by the local library. Each library is differerent. Some libraries provide information about what services are available around town. Others provide tutoring or classes. You can often find information about elections and local issues. What do you know about your local library? 

Meet the Librarian

In this brief video, we meet two librarians, Megan Sutherland and Kelsy Hughes, from South Bowie Branch Library in Maryland. They introduce us to a few of the many services provided by a library and why they chose working in a library as a career.

Contact Your Library

Call and ask for the branch manager or head librarian to set up a phone or in-person interview. Tell them you'd like to learn more about the work of the library so you can get involved or volunteer to help their mission. Ask for 30 minutes or an hour of their time. The Interview Script linked here and below can help you make the call.

Interview Questions

These questions can help you learn about your community and ways you can get involved.

  1. What is the main purpose of the library? This may be its mission or vision. 
  2. What are some challenges in the community that the library seeks to address?
  3. What are some programs that address those issues?
  4. What can a young person do to promote literacy?

Take Action in Your Community

Reflect on the work of the library in your community. What can you help them do? Your voice and time matter. The resources below can help you plan a project. 

The best service-learning projects guide us to gain and use knowledge, are led by youth voice and passion, address a need, and develop connections with local resources over time.

Learning to Give Issue Area Toolkits include background on the issue, community connections, lessons and activities, project ideas, and planning guides. Check out the Literacy Service-Learning Toolkit here. Read about one 4-H group that set up Little Free Libraries in their community.


Learning to Give Service Sparks guides provide directions for generous actions that encourage youth voice and promote the common good. Check out the Equity in Your Library service project here. Connect to activities around Read Across America.


Learning to Give Literature guides combine selected literature with thought-provoking discussions and activities that teach about giving and civic engagement. Read aloud a picture book to a younger child or a retirement home buddy. This beautiful  All Are Welcome Literature Guide introduces readers to a diverse and loving community. 

More about Libraries

Fun Facts:

  • One of the first public libraries in the United States opened in 1790 in Massachusetts. 
  • Andrew Carnegie donated $55 million between 1886 and 1919 to start around 2500 libraries worldwide. 

Other Services Libraries Provide:

  • Free access to computers
  • Job resources
  • Access to eBooks and music

Links & Attachments