Earlier this year I had the immense pleasure of discovering @mychal3ts on TikTok, an American librarian who has recently exploded in popularity across all social media platforms. Mychal Threets, born in 1990, is known for uploading viral social media videos in which he features book recommendations, library services, and affirming messages.  An advocate of any and all things library related, Mychal documents the multitude of services that a library can provide, as well as providing mental-health related messages of support for his viewers. Last year, Mychal’s honourable efforts were rewarded with an I Love My Librarian Award from the American Library Association for ‘Outstanding Public Service’.


At first glance, many may wrongly assume that libraries are dull and boring places, but Mychal’s videos prove the opposite. Through his unapologetically bubbly and optimistic persona, his joy and passion for libraries radiating through the screen, Mychal is resoundingly successful in encouraging his audience to see the library as a positive and inviting place. From his catchphrases of “library joy” and “you belong”, to his afro and tattoos (including a tattoo of Arthur Read’s library card), Mychal’s joyous and uplifting personality has encouraged thousands, including myself, to revisit the library.


In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my local library. Of course, the main draw of libraries is traditionally seen as books, but if you’re not an avid reader, there’s so much more on offer at your library. Whether it’s a free, quiet study space, community events, WiFi and electricity access, cover from the rain, music CDs, films and video games… The list goes on. Simply put, libraries don’t just house books.


But let’s not forget the importance of books or reading in general! I know that many people (including myself) can find reading difficult. Trying to find the right book, putting aside some time for reading each day, even trying to stay focused while reading can all make the experience challenging. But reading doesn’t have to be surrendering yourself to an 800-page textbook on astrophysics, for example, it can be done in short intervals at any time. Even if you’re texting a friend, scrolling Twitter or reading a news article, our phones give us endless access to reading material. Start slow, read for 5 minutes a day in any way, shape or form, then find a copy of that biography on a celebrity you really like from your local library, or a small book on a subject that particularly interest you, even journaling will be beneficial to developing your reading skills as well as improving your mental health.


So next time you find yourself in a Waterstones about to buy a book, or walking to a café in search of some silent study space, try visiting your local library instead. Register for a library card, take out and renew some books, meet a friend and enjoy the space – it’s all free! As Mychal says, “having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card!”.