Few community organizations aid veteran populations like the public library. For many former servicemembers, local libraries serve as sanctuaries – stores of critical information that connect them to essential services.

According to the American Library Association, there are more than 16,000 public libraries in the U.S. And, many of these facilities offer specialized programs for veterans. Some host credit counseling sessions and employment workshops. Others strive to preserve military history, carving out specific sections for books on the armed forces and hosting special services to honor local veterans. Plus, libraries across the country participate in the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project and hold regular narrative collection drives.

In recent years, local libraries have expanded their services for veterans. For instance, the California Department of Veterans Affairs collaborated with California Library Services to establish a statewide network of Veteran Resource Centers.

As discharged, post-9/11 servicemembers return to civilian life, local libraries will continue to beef up their veteran-specific programs.