Libraries have long been about more than books, but in the city they now deliver life support in the shape of information. Kids seek homework assistance from high school tutors. Some libraries offer adults help acquiring the basic literacy skills they need to undertake a GED program — sometimes in libraries with the help of volunteer teachers.
Adults from some of the city's poorest neighborhood find that they cannot apply for even fast-food restaurant or retail jobs without an online application, and librarians can help them establish a Yahoo or Gmail account so they can receive e-mail responses to those applications. Libraries have income tax forms, and sometimes have volunteer tax preparers available to answer questions.
"We're meeting the needs of the community," says Shelley Matthews, the northwest quadrant librarian who oversees the Lyell Avenue, Maplewood and Charlotte branches. "And those are the needs."
here is another bonus article by American Libraries magazine: 12 Ways Libraries Are Good for the Country.