Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Editor's Picks Work Career Now + Beyond

Job hopping won’t ruin the careers of millennials. I’m proof of that.

Millennials are generally defined as people who were born between 1981 and 1996. They represent the largest, most scrutinized share of the labor force.

As a millennial myself, I’ve often found reporting of millennial work patterns to be quite negative and accusatory. The coverage mostly surrounds the idea that millennials are non-committal, entitled, averse to long hours of hard work, and generally more spontaneous than other generations when it comes to career choices.

It’s not just the daily grind anymore; it’s about cultivating a work-life balance.

The research, however, suggests that millennials are not, in fact, lazy or unproductive.

We just view the world differently and have had to adjust to the fast-paced changes around us in an adaptive and flexible way.

Millennials are also more likely to follow a career matrix path. The matrix or ‘web’ career path describes moving both vertically and horizontally in positions of work rather than the traditional ladder career path most commonly associated with baby boomers. 

But why are millennials, in particular, more likely to take this type of career path?

The first thing to note is the ever-changing, fast-paced evolution of the workplace. As jobs and industries adapt to technological advances, the type of work and skillsets required change constantly. For millennials, this means it isn’t enough to be good at just one thing. 

We have to be good at many things, at the same time, all the time. 

It has placed much more value on learning as a tool and measure of progression, compared to experience or time spent in a particular place. However, the latter is still required and expected for career progression in a particular place of work.  

What we’re seeing is a tug of war between the desire for longevity and stability versus freedom and the opportunity to chase your dreams.

What we’re seeing, then, is a tug of war between the desire for longevity and stability versus freedom and the opportunity to chase your dreams. Not to mention an erosion of the ‘one-size fits all’ model for career progression or ‘conveyor belt’ career path in which the progression can be linearly projected. 

It also stems from what millennials may actually desire from work.

Millennials are driven by passion and fulfillment in the workplace. They are highly educated and digitally skilled. They take pride in their work and want positive associations with their working environment and organization. We’ve been told from an early age that we can be anything we aspire, and work hard enough, to be. If you combine that with the lack of straightforward linear progression to positions of higher responsibility and seniority, then it’s no wonder that millennials have a reputation for job-hopping.

It’s not just the daily grind anymore, it’s about cultivating a work-life balance, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of belonging from the work we do.

Civic engagement and social responsibility are also two big factors in determining how millennials choose where and how they want to work. We’re interested in problem-solving for society as a whole, and see ourselves as much more connected – thanks to the internet – to the world around us. We are motivated and engaged by teamwork and team-orientated work.

Managers across all industries are having to adapt their policies and practices to attract and retain millennials. This is a workforce that wants to see their work making changes in real-time. They want feedback, not just on how they are doing but how to improve and get better, and ultimately to progress.

Millennials want feedback, not just on how they are doing but how to improve and get better, and ultimately to progress.

Furthermore, social media and personal branding have had a huge role in encouraging millennials to constantly seek out new opportunities. Building one’s personal brand as a career objective is a relatively new concept. Many millennials take part in slash careers – generating income simultaneously from more than one career – thereby building a professional profile that is both versatile and extensible.  

The majority of millennial writers, for example, have part or full-time careers in other areas of work, and have successfully turned side hobbies and interests into sources of income. This is also particularly common for bloggers and small business owners who use social media and e-commerce to transform their passion into revenue.

In a competitive job market, slash careering makes millennials much more attractive to employers. It demonstrates their capacity for varied work, discipline, creativity, time management, and the ability to take initiative and lead projects to completion.

I myself wear multiple hats. I work for an agritech start-up, I freelance write, and I work part-time on campaigns and causes I’m passionate about. This has given me a sense of fulfillment and work-life balance that I don’t think I would have been able to find in a single position or career. 

I believe it’s a sign of the times that we are moving more towards varied and less predictable career paths and journeys, and that makes it all the more exciting. 

So, instead of labeling millennials as unreliable with a lack of direction, shouldn’t we instead be celebrated for our fortitude and flexibility, and for paving the way to a more fulfilling and balanced approach to work? 


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Politics The World

Five indispensable tools to help you join the resistance movement

In the age of Trump, more and more Americans are aware of government and we want to stay vigilant. Civic engagement is a crucial part of being a citizen, but the halls of Congress can feel far away, and legislation can be impenetrable. It’s so important to be informed, and there are a number of valuable tools that can help you do that.

1. Find your representatives with

It’s ok if you don’t know who represents you yet (especially if you’ve never voted) and you are certainly not alone.  Now is the time to change that.  Check out Enter your address and zip code and you’ll get a list of all of your elected representatives.

Get to know these people and what they stand for, if you know how much good or bad work your reps are doing in your name, it’s a lot harder to skip an election.

2. Stay up to date with political updates and breakdowns with the Resistance Manual.

The Resistance Manual is a Wikipedia-style open resource that’s constantly being updated on policy issues both nationally and locally. If you don’t know what budget reconciliation is, or want to know what is being done to fight Trump’s immigration policies, you will find it here.

Bookmark it, make it your homepage and you will always be aware of what’s happening in the resistance. There is also an extensive list of background readings, organizations, and resources for everything from protest information to self-care for activists.

An example of a Resistance Manual page detailing Federal Government actions on the Muslim / Immigration Ban

3. Follow legislation with Countable.

While the official is a useful tool, it can be clunky and hard to use. That’s where countable comes in. You sign up with your zip code and opt into notifications when your representative votes on or sponsors legislation. Countable also features information on legislation and compiles arguments for or against bills provided by journalists, legislators, activists and countable users.

4. Find a place to volunteer your time with Volunteer Match.

You may have time to volunteer, but don’t know where your help is needed in your area. Volunteer match will match you with local opportunities based on your interests and location. Service to your community is a great way to remain involved and help in a way that is edifying and helps you connect with activists face to face.

5. Fight racism and police violence with Stay Woke.

Stay Woke is a project from the Movement for Black Lives that starts with a simple survey about your interests, abilities, and ideas for organizing in support of Black Lives. It allows organizers to reach out to respondents to get involved where and when they can and serves as a means of collecting new ideas about how to reach people with their message.