Every day libraries across the nation touch the lives of millions of people. Sometimes these stories are well known and a few even have some publicity involved. Other times, the effect is much more low-key or even unnoticed. Last week (August 21st, 2015) there was a news story that broke regarding a girl in Norfolk that was being picked on for liking Star Wars (gasp). CNN first covered the story but it ended up being covered by dozens of news outlets across the United States and the UK. In fact when you did a Google search for Star Wars that weekend it was one of the top news stories. So you are most likely thinking, “what does this have to do with libraries”? Well it just so happens that there was a tiny reference to the Chesapeake Public Library hidden in this story!
In brief, the new piece talked about Layla Murphy and how a chance encounter with members of the non-profit Star Wars Stormtrooper group, called the 501st, helped let her know that it is wonderful to love any fandom one chooses. This encounter allowed Layla no only build self-esteem but it also gained her a Stormtrooper outfit of her very own and a visit with musician Weird Al. Now here is where the library comes into play.
None of this would have occurred had Layla and her family not come to FantaSci at the Chesapeake Central Library in late July. It was at this “fan convention” (as it is quoted in the CNN article) that Layla was allowed to meet the 501st and other Star Wars fans. She was even featured on our Instagram page during the lightsaber training course that we held. This one library program helped not only Layla but it also helped get the news story across the nation, letting other children and teens know that it is a great thing to love what you love. No matter what.
I am so happy to have been able to be a part of such a worthy event and it really shows the power that libraries have in our communities, even when that associating may seem fleeting. To quote Star Wars, “You have that power too…”. Read the CNN story!