Taylor Hayes/Editorial Artist

This National Library Week, thousands of students will pass through the doors of the Binghamton University Libraries in search of books, printers or a quiet study space. While most students are familiar with these services, those who live on campus especially might overlook Broome County’s public libraries as similarly valuable hubs for information and community engagement. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons by joining a club, de-stressing with free events or switching up your study routine, check out Pipe Dream’s list of reasons to patronize our local public libraries.

Early weekend hours

While they might be a long walk or bus ride away from the West Side, the Broome County Public Library (BCPL) on Court Street and Your Home Public Library (YHPL) on Main Street in Johnson City offer study spaces and meeting rooms for group work. Both libraries open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, whereas Glenn G. Bartle Library opens at noon on weekends. Neither library is open Sunday, but if you’re conscientious enough to get your studying done before the weekend comes to a close, a public library makes the perfect Saturday spot for early birds who are tired of campus and looking for a change of scenery.

Free events and clubs

For students looking to de-stress in a new environment, the YHPL hosts movie nights, gardening classes, book sales and signings. The BCPL also offers free events like yoga classes, concerts, book club meetings, coloring sessions and knitting circles. The Vestal Public Library will even host a group dog walking event Saturday, May 18, the day after finals end. While similar activities and clubs can be found on campus, branching out into the local community can provide new perspectives and resources that could potentially build stronger on-campus communities. YHPL, for example, offers “Book Club in a Bag” kits, designed to help patrons start and execute their own book clubs.

Creative and academic resources

Libraries can provide physical resources for not only bookworms, but visual artists. Crafty hobbyists who live in Downtown Binghamton and don’t want to trek all the way to the Mountainview STEAM Room in Appalachian Collegiate Center could check out BCPL’s similar space, called the “Creation Station.” The area provides color printing, a sewing machine, an iron, a Cricut card-making machine and access to photo editing software. The public library also offers unique research materials; students doing projects on the area’s history can find newspaper archives, census records and various other historical documents at the BCPL.

Volunteer opportunities

Broome County’s libraries can be a great space for students to share their skills with the community. The BCPL currently has BU undergraduate students teaching computer classes and graduate students teaching poetry classes, and the library is also in need of volunteers to help maintain their garden area. Friends of the BCPL and Friends of the YHPL are both local organizations that help raise money to fund programs at the libraries. For students interested in local outreach, libraries are a great place to gauge an area’s needs and get involved in projects that meet those needs.