Beloved character Amelia Bedelia visits her local library in a viral TikTok, cleverly showcasing underrated public programs

Three screenshots show a TikTok posted by the Mulwaukee Public Library, where a young woman is dressed as Amelia Bedelia

Children’s literature character Amelia Bedelia is the personification of the meme: “a little confused, but she got the spirit.” 

The character, created by Peggy Parish in 1963, is a maid who constantly misunderstands the tasks given to her by taking directions very literally. 

In a recent TikTok video, the Milwaukee Public Library highlighted their expansive programming with a slew of classic Amelia Bedelia joke set-ups that included bulb planting (with actual lightbulbs), dressing a salad (in baby clothes), and “sewing” seeds (with a needle and thread).

“Make no mistake, you can learn a thing or two at library programming for all ages,” read the video’s caption. 

A library employee dressed as Amelia Bedelia, in maid outfit and bonnet, skips down a hallway with a smile.

The video, which at time of publication was up to 200,000 views, playfully mined Amelia Bedelia jokes in a clever way to spotlight the countless resources public libraries have to offer

Everyone knows that you can borrow books and media from their local public libraries, but many people would be surprised by the full extent of free classes and opportunities available to them in their own communities. 

At the Milwaukee Public Library, for instance, upcoming programs include English tutoring, storytelling sessions for the Deaf and hard of hearing, and a community craft supply swap — where people can trade unused yarn, jewelry, and art supplies with their neighbors. 

But free resources and skill sharing events are not unique to a singular library — they’re a feature at nearly every public library across the U.S., and they’re often underutilized. 

These days it takes five seconds to add something to an online cart and get it shipped to your door. Hyper-consumerism, coupled with the lingering social isolation during COVID-19 lockdown, have made people reluctant to rely on each other for resources. 

@milwaukeepubliclibrary Make no mistake, you can learn a thing or two at library programming for all ages. Visit mpl.org/calendar to see our programming offerings. #AmeliaBedelia #BookCharacters #Cosplay #ChildrensBooks #BookTok #LibraryTikTok #TheChords #Nostalgia ♬ Sh-Boom - The Chords

That’s why Katie Cerqua, the Virginia Beach Public Library Programming Community Outreach Manager, told WTKR that libraries are more important than they’ve ever been. 

“The library really lets you try something…new before you determine if it's something you want to explore more,” Cerqua said. "At our Princess Anne Area Library, we have a library of things. And so, you can go and check out a surfboard or we can check out technology. So, things you might want to try before you buy, the library is really great for that.”

The Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts has a similar “library of things” catalog that includes everything from 3-D printers and pickleball paddles to kitchen mixers and camping tents. 

Quincy library director Sara Slymon said that the concept behind the library of things is both economically and environmentally sustainable. 

"Our homes are full of equipment we hardly use, although it might be useful for occasional specific tasks," Slymon shared in an interview with The Patriot Ledger. "Wouldn't it be better to share among all of us?"

So, the next time you want to borrow a sewing machine, rent a tent, or “plant a bulb,” check in with your local library first. They might have what you need, at the low, low cost of totally free

Header images courtesy of The Milwaukee Public Library/TikTok.

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March 29, 2024 11:39 AM
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